Ever think about something so much that you cannot think of anything else? There have been those instances that I have been so preoccupied by a thought or a concern, that I have lost track of time and it consumes all my mental energy. That is not good and is in fact destructive. Many a foolish decision has been made in the heat of the moment of anxiety. Michele and I had some dear friends that served on staff at New Tribes Bible Institute in Jackson in the early 90’s while we were students there. They were older and had been missionaries for a long time. One day Mrs. Schultz gave Michele a great piece of advice that we still use today. “Never make a major decision in the middle of a crisis” What great advice! That has helped us many times over the years. Why? Because we do not often see clearly when our minds are occupied with the stress and worry of the moment. We need clarity.
Being anxious is a choice. Its true, otherwise we would not be told to stop being anxious. (Phil. 4:6-7) It is a decision we can make, to be anxious or not. The antidote? Go to the One who can do something about your situation, ask Him for help (be specific) and be thankful for _________, fill in the blank! It is not a formula, but an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving directed to God. God in turn promises something for the one who trusts Him in this way. He says through Paul that, His peace, which is not something we can ever plumb the depths of, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. That peace is an inner tranquility that is based on peace with God because our sins are forgiven and what we experience when we commit all our cares to Him. This peace is also a contentment with our lot, no matter what it is. This peace transcends our ability to fully grasp by reason alone.
A garrison is a military outpost that provides protection for an area. This is the idea that the word translated “guard” communicates, in Phil. 4:7. The peace of God shall garrison and mount guard over our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. A garrison reminds me of fort Mackinac and its purpose to protect the north trade routes of the great lakes. It was originally built at Michilimackinac but in 1781 was moved to Mackinac island as the British felt it was more defensible. I love going there and seeing the fort sitting high on the hill in clear view of all who would approach, providing protection for those below and those on the water. A garrison in Paul’s day had the same purpose to guard something of value i.e. a village, trade route or region. This is the idea of God’s peace providing a protective force for our thoughts and emotions. Many times, our thoughts of anxiety overwhelm us but when we take our requests to God He gives us a peace that is present regardless of the circumstances we face. Not just happy thoughts but a tranquillité that is ours as His Spirit communes with our hearts and minds regarding the rock solid promises He has made.
So, we are not defenseless against the wild and clamoring anxiety that seeks to overwhelm us. We have a God who is for us and has provided a garrison to guard our minds and our emotions in times of trouble. We just need to choose to go to Him.