"Before you know it"

“Don’t fret or worry.Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness (peace) everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

-Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of my favorite sections of Scripture.  I think because it has often challenged me in my thinking about worrying.

First – “let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.”   I think this is saying “don’t just present your list of worries to God when you pray, but to take the worries, and to re-word them with praises and petitions in such a way that the worries are SHAPED into prayers.  PRAYERS are a little bit different than LISTS.  It’s not too difficult for me to go to God and list off the things I am worried about.  But, it’s another thing to take this “list” and to talk them out to God in the essence of praise.  To take a major worry – like health or finances or an argument or conflict – and praise Him amidst talking to Him about those specific worries until they are SHAPED into a prayer.  I feel like it changes from a “list” of worries that I bring to God – a cold, sterile list, into something like a warm conversation with a Father.

It reminds me of being a potter at a potter’s wheel.  I take the present worry that I am having, imagine it as a lump of cold, hard clay, start spinning the wheel, warm it with my hands, add some moisture, and slowly begin to caress it, shape it, mold it, and transform it into a beautiful object worthy of praise!  “Before you know it….. (spinning the wheel) ... before you know it…. (adding water, shaping it with your hands) ... before you know it... the lump of worry has been transformed into a praise on the potter's wheel of prayer.  That’s how I look at this scripture.  Take my worry, and by praising and having a conversation with our kind, loving Father, shape the worry into a prayer instead of a list.

Second – “before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness will settle you down.”   God truly does come and settle us down.  Imagine a child who is agitated and climbs up into their parent’s lap.  After some calm hugging, soothing back-rubbing, caressing, and “shh-shh"-ing, the child is settled down.  I love this image. I allow my grown up 50ish year old self to imagine myself climbing up on my Father’s lap, crying, agitated, tell Him my worries, and imagine Him rubbing my back, “shh-shh” ing me until I settle down.  Try it.  It is wonderful.  And it is what the Holy Spirit is very good at as our Comforter!

Finally, the part of this verse that says, “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”   It is very accurate that when I am consumed with worry – I have allowed the worry to take over my life and specifically – the very center of my life.  The worry is all I focus on – and where is Christ?  Outside of my thoughts and heart – standing on the side-lines – waiting to see if I will allow Him to help me.    But it’s wonderful what happens when I take my worries, let praises shape the worries into prayers, let God “shh-shh” me and settle me down, and then, “before you know it” Christ has now taken over the center of my life.  The circumstance that caused my worry has not changed, but it is no longer in the center of my life – Christ is!  I love this!

So today – try it out – be a potter at a potter’s wheel with your worries. Let your petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers not just a list. Allow God to then come, "shh-shh" you  and settle you down. And then experience how wonderful it is when Christ takes back the center of your life and displaces the worry.

Instead of letting worry be in the center of my life today – with Christ on the sidelines - I want Christ to be in the center of my life today – with worries on the sidelines!