Mindfulness is an idea from Buddhism that has become widely practiced. Those who are mindful are learning to fully alive in the moment; aware (mindful) of their emotions, responses, and needs. The practice brings ‘non-judgment’ to those sensations, an acceptance of present circumstances. Being mindful can help a person to find a kind of peace and reduce levels of stress. Understanding who we are, why we are feeling certain emotions, how we respond to various situations is a very valuable thing for a better life. The Christian, however, is offering more than mindfulness to deal with life. We can live in the peace of God!
We need to be live with complete awareness, honest with ourselves about what is going on in us and around us, and then take the step of which Paul writes in this passage. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV) We do not just have to learn to accept life as it is, we can connect the Presence of Jesus to those situations. He will work in us – changing us and changing the world around us.
A few lines earlier in this inspired letter, we read this “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV) If we are merely mindful we just let go of it all.
God invites us to enter into an abundant life- one marked by purpose, passion, and peace. How? We accept, by faith, that we are His beloved children and as such we ‘present our requests’ prayerfully. While there is much to be said about accepting life as it, learning to be content, we never can allow ourselves to settle into apathy, mistaking that for God’s peace. Our secret of contentment is knowing that we are held securely in the love of God.
The further step towards complete peace is learning to respond to His call, to live in obedience (yes, that word!) to His will so that that the flow of the Holy Spirit’s life is not hindered by guilt, by shame; our desires brought into alignment with His.
With transparency, I will tell you that it is easier to write about living in that kind of contentment than it is to actually do it! Like you, I find myself confronted by circumstances that I do not like, having to deal with people that frustrate me, finding my own heart a rebel, and I slip into turmoil. I want to kick and scream, and sadly, sometimes I do. There is no peace in those choices!
But, when I take it all to Jesus – holding the whole bundle – victories and defeats – to Him, asking for grace to walk with Him, the peace of God flows into my life. Not only do I find contentment, I also find His wisdom and power to become an agent of change.
Are you merely attempting to be mindful? Go the next step. As you become aware of the inner thoughts and needs present those things to the loving Father who has prepared something better for you.
Here is a word from the Word.
“A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on Him.
I have put my hope in His word.
I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.” (Psalm 130:1-8, NLT)