“And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
I’m fairly sure it’s not an official DSM diagnosis, but I believe many of us suffer from just plain craziness. Are you crazy? Before you answer no let’s dig into the notion of craziness for a minute.
The English word “crazy” appears to be derived from a Middle English word meaning “to crush.” In turn, that old word likely derives from the French word “ecraser” which means “to crush, break, or shatter.” While you may not be completely crushed, broken, or shattered, judging from your schedules and general spiritual temperament, many of you can honestly say that you are at least a little rattled. Some of you have definitely crossed the line into full-blown brokenness. Craziness does come in degrees.
Life fractures all of us in many ways, and it can completely shatter us sometimes. I think we operate in this broken world with a kind of baseline craziness, and we’re often pushed over the threshold into being fully cracked up.
Occasional craziness is a nuisance, but chronic craziness is spiritually debilitating. Fear is the underlying disorder that gives rise to all the surface-level expressions of craziness. You may imagine controversies, magnify disputes, rehearse or create angry conversations, become unreasonably impatient with only the slightest provocation, or complain regularly. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, you feel apathetic, dull, tired, afraid, or alienated.
Sometimes when teaching about craziness I would illustrate by taking a dinner plate, wrapping it in a towel, and hitting with a mallet. “This is your life” and “This is your crazy life.” Craziness removes the wholeness of life, its integrity, and purpose. So we need something or Someone to put all the pieces together.
The solution lies in maintaining your connection with the God of peace. Paul wrote about a process of letting all your requests be made known to God. We all love that idea! When Lauren was about eight I’d taught her the ACTS acronym for how to pray (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication). She said quite seriously “I have a lot of supplications.”
Lest we treat God like a cosmic Santa Claus, however, Paul added that we are to make these supplications “with thanksgiving.” Gratitude is such a magnet for blessings.
But it’s the result we want to focus on. Paul concluded this section with “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” God’s peace restores wholeness to our logical selves and emotional selves, both sides of the brain. We end up with a clear head for thinking and a warm heart for loving.
What’s more, there is a certain irrationality to this peace. It passes all understanding. I’ve often heard from people in crazy times “I have peace.” Sometimes they’re puzzled by it. Give God a chance in the middle of the worst storm, and He will show up.
The word “peace” in Greek and in Hebrew fundamentally means “wholeness.” So it is peace we need to quiet our craziness, and the God of peace provides a way for us to receive it. In fact, it’s not just a gift He dispenses. Peace is God’s presence that guards us from the craziness of life. Thus Jesus said “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).
As always, the presence of God in our lives is the key. Even though we may understand 1/1000 of a percent what that fully means, it is stupendously true. It’s why we can have peace.
In another very important program of my life, I’ve learned that when I’m agitated or doubtful, right at that moment, I should pause and pray. Sometimes I get foolishly practical and try to control or solve the craziness on my own. That simply never works in the deep places of my heart and soul. When I pray, however, I’ve never notfelt a sense of peace and found an eventual solution.
Try it. When something happens today that threatens to push you over the edge, pause, pray, and ask God to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I’m sure you’ll find peace and be a little less crazy.
Grace and peace,
Dr. Terry Ellis
July 28, 2019