The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
The company had arranged for us to have a weekend away together. They felt that we had all worked hard and in some way deserved it, so we were going to San Antonio. I was really looking forwards to it. Though living in Texas, the fact is that El Paso in the far west of the state is a bit different from the rest, this would be a good opportunity to see what other parts looked like.
On the day of the flight, I left a bit early, it was approaching Christmas and there were some gifts that I needed to buy at the big shopping mall. It would not take long and the mall was very close to the airport. As often happens with me however, time flew by and before I knew it I was late. I set off to the airport and immediately the impossible happened, I ran into a traffic jam. As I sat there stuck in the traffic, the clock ticked on. My anxiety grew and grew. The airplane of course was hardly going to wait for me.
Finally, I began to think through on the issue. Surely God was big enough to clear a traffic jam. Especially one which should not be there anyway. So why was it here, why was God putting a block in my way? As I thought about it, I realised that I had never involved God in the holiday. I had been offered it and had accepted. Now I began to think, maybe God does not want me to go. In the face of such embarrassment the reality was that I knew Jesus loved me. I knew that he would only do what was for my good. I might not want it, but whatever it was would be good. Yet I struggled because if I did not go I would be the only one to not go and there would be the embarrassment of missing the flight and wasting the ticket.
Then I thought of the verse above. I quickly went to the end and thought that I wanted God’s peace. Yet, there were conditions. I saw first of all that I was commanded not to be anxious. At first that seemed pretty ludicrous: How could I not be anxious? Then I realised that there was a second part – BUT. The alternative to being anxious was to give thanks and present my requests to God. What could I possibly give thanks for in this mess?
It struck me that I could give thanks for the mess – not in childishness, saying something that was far from my heart, but rather as an act of surrender to the almighty God who rules the universe. So I prayed, “Lord, thank you for this traffic jam. Thank you that if you don’t want me to go on this weekend away, that it is in your hands and you can stop me. Thank you that you can handle the consequences of my missing the flight.” I was amazed. The peace of Jesus came pouring over me like a flood. The anxiety was swept away in an instant. I had accepted from Him the worst thing that I could see, not just accepted it but given thanks for it and Jesus brought me peace.
It was soon afterwards that the traffic started flowing. The plane’s departure was late, and we had a really good time in San Antonio. The trip had been offered up to the alter of sacrifice before God and he blessed it.