Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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)

In 1939, ahead of correctly predicted German attacks, the British government produced motivational posters with the words KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON in preparation for what would become World War II. After they were rediscovered in 2000, you see adaptations of that poster’s wording everywhere, for anything you can think of.

Well, for me, it is the perfect motivator and head straightener to remember to KEEP CALM AND TRUST IN GOD.

I get it now–in practice, not just in theory. I’m learning. Slowly, but surely.

My emotional and mental state used to be at the whim of my circumstances. If events and people were especially stressful, or even hostile, I’d either shut down and put up walls, or add fuel to the fire by escalating the tension.

It seemed like there was no amount of effort on my own part I could exert to improve a situation. And my flesh kept wanting me to act to fix it, but in ways I was conditioned and could understand: maybe backing down or enabling when I shouldn’t, or standing up–but in the wrong way. Life just seemed hopeless.

After I accepted Christ in my heart, it still took a while to understand what this peace was that I kept reading about in His Word…this peace that other believers would tell me about. I wanted to experience it myself.

The keys, I learned, were these:

  • In prayer, truly give my burdens to the Lord. Not just say I am in prayer, but to actually give them to Him. I often imagine them as heavy stones in a sack I’m carrying, lightening my load as I take them out and put them before Him.
  • Truly surrender my situation and outcome to Him. That meant letting go of everything I held dear, and praying it all up to Him. All I had to do was act in faith and obedience to Him.
  • Pray persistently in true belief, in Jesus’ name, for the desires and dreams He has placed in my heart will be done, and that they glorify Him and align with His plans.
  • Act as He has called His children to act…as Jesus truly would have acted. In the face of unhealthy or abusive treatment and wrongdoing, Jesus stood up and called it for what it was. He was no doormat!
  • Leave my pain- and risk-averse comfort zone, and step out in faith, completely trusting Him. Eyes on Him, not the waves…not the giant.

And now, when faced with seemingly impossible situations where my old self would’ve thrown up his hands and resigned to a life of disappointment, the ultimate perspective changer has shown me that all things can be used to accomplish His plans, and that I only need to live according to His calling. That means to live true to Him, no matter how things look. I’m no longer pulled by the strings of circumstances, but instead detached so I can see the strings and act independently of them, without getting yanked around.

If we truly trust in God, His Word, and His promises, pray our burdens to Him, and walk as He calls us to, His peace overwhelms us. And there is nothing we cannot face.