“Rejoice in the Lord always… The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God…will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:4-7
One of my buyers when I was selling for Gillette had a sign above his desk that read:
“The objective of all employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have an answer for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon. However, when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your objective is to drain the swamp!”
In our world today there seem to be many “alligators.” Voices of hatred and violence, shut-downs, layoffs, the suffering we see around us, and a feeling of uncertainty of the future. Even our “to-do” lists sometimes seem endless, and our lives can begin to feel out of control. What makes “alligators” what they are is that they make us feel anxious and frightened. We lose our focus on God’s presence and God’s grace. Suddenly we find that it is our reaction to the alligators that is deciding what we do and who we are; not a spirit that is “Holy.”
Paul reminds the divided church at Philippi (and us) that the peace of God comes to us as we intentionally connect through prayer to the God of love who is with us. As we focus ourselves on God’s presence and grace through prayer, we not only remember that we are not alone, we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading. As we respond to that voice, we let God define us, our actions, intentions, decisions and direction. We need never fear; God will lead us through whatever “alligator” infested waters we are in at the moment. That’s the promise of the gospel and the way we live as God’s people; the church!
There is much to pray for in our world. This month, there is much to pray for as the United Methodist Church. This month (Feb. 23-26) a special General Conference will be meeting in St. Louis to discern the future direction of the United Methodist Church concerning the LGBTQ community. I ask us all to be in prayer. To be still. To seek to connect with God who is present with us and offer our requests, our needs, and our selves. Let us also be open to how God would lead us as we remember with gratitude how God has answered prayer all throughout time. May our response lift up Christ! So, others who are in the “alligator pond” with us, see Christ in us and not fear.
God’s peace, Ed