On the drive home from work and school with my sons this evening, we stumbled into a conversation regarding the place that science has in a God-created world. I could write for days on the various learnings, opinions and even disagreements shared among all of us in the car in those short 20 minutes. My highly inquisitive sons were getting passionate sharing opinions regarding where and how science fits in with the Old Testament versus the New Testament. One thing we all agreed upon was that science does have a place in this God-created world, and how awesome when science actually proves one of God’s truths! More on that later.
This past year, I had the opportunity to walk through Priscilla Shirer’s “The Armor of God” study in my women’s group. It centers around Ephesians 6:10-19:
The Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
Week 4 of the study was entitled “The Shoes of Peace”, and it really didn’t quite get my full attention until, as we were watching the supplement video, Priscilla Shirer stated something to the effect of, “….do you want to know how to get more peace in your life?” THAT definitely got my attention. Um, yes. Among an overscheduled week, stressful time at work, tense and tired household, do I want some peace? YES!!! Ms. Shirer had my full attention now.
She continued, “In Jesus Christ, we have peace with God. Thanksgiving activates peace. Trust fuels thanksgiving.” She also pointed us to Colossians 3:15, which states, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” She emphasized that the peace that we need is already in us. And Jesus in John 14:27 reinforces that. “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”
Shirer pointed out that anywhere where peace is lacking, the enemy is at work. Not only was I on a mission for getting some peace, but now there was a bit of urgency to my quest. That was all I needed to hear. I wanted peace and I wanted it quickly. I’ve already accepted Jesus into my heart, so next up was a serious look at the priority of gratitude in my life.
The world’s leading expert on gratitude is Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. He has been studying the effects of gratitude for nearly two decades. His research has shown time and time again that daily gratitude has positive effects on your overall health and well-being. In his essay, “Why Gratitude is Good”, Emmons shared, “We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to eighty, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits.”
So here we have it – a scientist trying to understand the effects of gratitude. He proves gratitude is good for our bodies, minds, and relationships. Nowhere did Emmon’s study overtly reference God or Christianity, but Emmons study showed him (a) that gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. (“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1), and (b) that true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others. He states, “We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” (“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19)
Priscilla Shirer punctuated her point in the supplemental workbook stating, “This is how we put on the shoes of peace – we trust and express gratitude. Then, we experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
In order to slip on my shoes of peace each day, I made a choice a few months ago to change my posture as I approach each day. I decided that at 8:30 each morning, I would set my alarm on my phone to read, “Today, I am thankful for…” and committed myself to text something for which I am thankful to my husband each morning. I knew this exercise would be beneficial in helping to change my posture each day, and I definitely noticed that it often would change the trajectory of my day. That said, my husband wasn’t really seeing me until the evenings and weekends (my leftovers after a tiring day), so I asked him if he noticed a difference at home. He stated I was noticeably much more peaceful, positive, and calm. Now I’m not this perfectly calm person by any stretch (just ask my family), but when I intentionally put on these shoes, I am much more stabilized!
I gave just one tactic I’ve used to cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving in my life, but there are countless ways we can do this. Here are a couple of thought-starters:
- Journal the things for which you are thankful each day.
- Pray, thanking God for the blessings in your life.
- Write a thank-you note or text to someone who has done something meaningful for you.
- Count your blessings by choosing a time each week to sit down and list your blessings. Pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week.
I’m personally committed to continuing my text messages to my husband each day. And I’m excited to reloop with my boys to share my “discovery” and encourage them to regularly show gratitude too. We can make better use of our commute to school talking about what we’re grateful for each day.
How will you slip on the shoes of peace and express gratitude today?
Please pray with me.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are the giver of peace. It’s not always easy for me to be peaceful, but I know that you want peace for me. I ask for your peace to rule my heart. I know that trusting you and sitting in a posture of gratitude will create a ripe environment for your peace, and I ask that your peace protect and guard me. In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.