America has been everything but contagiously calm over the last four months.
The pandemic brought waves of sickness, panic, fear, and death to our shores. The economic shutdown drove in despair, job loss, and addictions by the truckload. Then, just as it seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel, we witnessed the horrific treatment and killing of George Floyd. Rightfully so, there was universal condemnation of the events surrounding his death. Peaceful protest, an important American institution, was hijacked by a violent few. Anarchy and angst followed and now reign supreme. Chaos has replaced the calm many were beginning to see on the horizon.
Now the Elephant Butte fire in Evergreen is adding fuel to the flames of anxiety and stress. My house is right on the boarder of the evacuation zone with my neighbor just two houses to the north of me being evacuated. Many of us close to the fire in Evergreen can now literally say our world is on fire after metaphorically saying it for months. And yet many of us have total assurance that God is in complete control despite the creeping flames of feeling otherwise! How can this be?
I feel especially grateful during these chaotic times to have facilitated an Aspen Ridge Church small group called “Anxious for Nothing” developed by Max Lucado. The group’s biblical teachings of calm in the midst of chaos has been a big help to people at our church as well as virtual participants from Ohio, Montana, and Texas.
A special “shout out” to our very own, Ross and Jenny Culbertson, who have been instrumental in this small group and have served as apprentices of sorts for me as we explored this life breathing topic together! The course is designed around the powerful word of God found in Philippians 4:4-8.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (New International Version)
One of the discussion questions in the study guide from this small group reads: “Think of someone in your life who is contagiously calm. How does that person display gentleness even during tense times?” This question brought out some very thoughtful and emotional responses within our small group session the day we asked it. One participant even discussed another member of the group being this calm person in her life. We learned that Christ Jesus had changed this “high strung” individual into a contagiously calm one over time just as the scripture promises!
This same question really is an important one during these crazy times, isn’t it? Contagiously calm Christ-followers are needed now more than ever to bring true peace and justice to this chaotic country.
It is in this spirit that I would like to ask you to consider being a part of a new “Anxious for Nothing” small group in the fall. The small group will be a wonderful asset to those who are already peacemakers and relatively calm. You can use the tools you learn here to help others and strengthen yourself. The group will also be a huge help to those struggling with anxiety, worry, or fear in their lives.
There is no requirement that you disclose which of the two categories above you fit into when you join the group. Quite frankly, I and many of us probably fit into both depending on the day. Although I will tell you that this group has given me a huge dose of the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) which Max Lucado brilliantly points out is not just from God, it is actually of Him, such that I am more in the calm camp now than I was before and desire to help others be the same.
Will you consider joining this small group in the fall? You can email me at the link below with your interest or questions. I believe we will need more Christ-followers who are contagiously calm than ever before in this country as we recover from the chaos, open our schools, fight fires—both physical and spiritual—and as we enter a presidential election year.
May the God of peace be with you,
Director of Small Groups