Dear Don... My Gratitude Epiphany

As a young adult, and newly married, (decades ago) one of the greatest blessings of that time in my life was a Newlywed group that met together every Sunday before worship for “Sunday School”. It was a small group and over time - with a lot of fellowship and Bible Study, we all became great friends. In fact, one of those dear friends, a fellow newlywed, named Don — was the teacher for our group. A very introspective and deep-thinker, he brought words to life as he taught with such heartfelt delivery and authenticity. Don didn’t just teach in words, he lived it out, daily - and still does, today.

There was one particular Sunday when Don taught us from what became a very powerful verse for the rest of my life — and because of this, I call it my “life-verse”.

The verse is Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— The Bible (ESV)
Summer Oats - Leslie Brown

While it might appear straightforward, there was something Don shared that day - that profoundly impacted my life, and how I processed both the trials and the triumphs.

Prayer is to converse with God...

Through praise, worship and thankfulness. Supplication is to petition, or to make a request known. When doing these things, Don taught how to actually be thankful for the opportunity to trust Him with the prayer, the request, the process, and the outcome. This is to say that we give up all worry, anxiety and concern, because we have released it fully to the Lord for direction, provision and protection. Once released, with thankfulness for His attention to every detail (through faith and hope), we receive the peace that completely transcends what we are capable of experiencing - without His direct involvement.

Prayer gets God involved in our circumstances, moving and working on our behalf. It brings His divine intervention — including the closing of doors, along with others that may be opened. Our complete trust is evidenced by our thankfulness, for trusting Him in the situation or object of our petition. This is an incredible praise offering. Trusting so fully - that we aren’t anxious or concerned. Our mind is free of over-thinking and dwelling on it. Once it’s released to Him, with thankfulness for His sovereign outcome, He brings peace beyond comprehension.

Why do we want control?

It’s like a kid in a formula race car - we are usually in over our heads!
And to stop the madness, it’s something we must put into practice — because as humans, we don’t give up control easily, and our minds tend to be consumed with issues we can do little, or nothing about. Yet, once fully released to Him by request and thankfulness - we are able to know more clearly the path He lays before us, and see His intervention.

The Family Beachwalk - Leslie Brown

The struggle is to take the matter into our own hands by worrying, analyzing, and over-thinking rather than continuing to offer praise and thanksgiving that...

1) He’s got this.
2) We trust Him with it, completely.

Because of you, Don...

I learned that going throughout life with that principle, with all the needs, circumstances, relationships, health challenges — that each and every (good and bad) situation is another opportunity to thank Him, trust Him — and see Him move us through a glorious journey. The journey is glorious (only) because we release it to Him, and every part of it glorifies Him through the process - and in the outcome.

His process, His outcome. We thank Him, release through request, and trust with perfect peace.

Have there been times when this didn’t come easy? Most definitely. In fact, for a long time, I resisted, just because I wasn’t able to thank Him for the situation, and fully trust enough to release it. But, over time, I’ve seen the futility, and ridiculous anxiety in that.

Yet, like anything else that we actually put into practice, regularly, we become better at it, in fact — more confident in doing so. My immediate words of prayer, more often than not are, “Thank you, Father, for this opportunity to trust you”. The peace is something I long for more than anything in the midst of trials - and the only way to receive it is to be thankful, and to trust Him fully. Without doing this, our worry and anxiety can become a raging storm that actually makes it all worse - both literally, and emotionally. 

Calm and Peace - Leslie Brown

It’s not worth it.
I prefer to navigate calm waters.

I’m so thankful, Don, that you understood this so early in life, and that you were able to make it real to that 20-something newlywed that had a whole lot of tough, and terrific, things to go through in her life. It’s overwhelming gratitude that I feel to continuously pass this scriptural mantra along to my (now) grown children so that they can also experience it.

To be thankful in all things gives an incredible vantage point on living life free from stress, anxiety, worry — because His peace conquers those things beyond understanding! I can safely say, I don’t understand it — but wow, am I grateful for it. Once you experience supernatural peace — you want nothing else. And our heavenly Father is the infinite source. 

May you experience this true peace for you, and your family — in all things.

Thank you, my friend Don - for helping me find the ultimate peace for life, while on this earth. It’s one of the greatest gifts, for life lived well.

Until next time...