Written April 1, 2022

After experiencing the following this morning I felt led to share it with you in the hopes that it brings you encouragement and inspires courage, faith and trust in God in the present that he will provide His peace in the midst of whatever storm(s) you and your family may be facing.

I was awakened at 2:30 am by our 99-pound dog, Maui, who was frightened by the thunderstorm that rolled across our area. My wife invited him to jump onto our bed, which he did, and he decided to lie down between us just like our children used to when they were little and afraid. I was surprised our other dog, Rocky, didn’t jump up onto our bed as well. Maui lay right next to me with his head on my chest so I placed my arm around him and caressed his head and neck. He was able to calm down pretty easily. Once the storm moved away and Maui hopped off the bed I found myself wide awake, even though I tried to fall back asleep. Ten minutes later, I conceded to the fact I wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon, so I moved to our living room.

While I was being led to pray, my mind quickly started processing other things I could do with this unplanned time. Read emails, listen to music, watch a video or movie on the TV. I made a cup of hot tea and enjoyed a snack. Of course Maui joined me on the couch for a few minutes and is now laying on the floor under my legs while my feet are propped up on an ottoman while writing this to you.

I noticed on my cell phone a notification sent by my YouVersion Bible App about the verse of the day: Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I opened the Bible App and read from verses 6:10-24. I prayed to God for him to clothe me and my wife with His full armor.

Still being led to pray, I pulled out the prayers of the people from last Sunday’s worship service. I felt I finally stopped procrastinating and my eyes were quickly drawn to the two prayers in the middle of the page, “we pray for relief for migrants and refugees” and “we pray for victims of storms and other bad weather events.” The realization comes to my mind it is no coincidence that of all the prayers listed on the page these two my heart, mind, and spirit quickly zeroed in on. I prayed for all those the Lord brought to mind known and unknown for relief, and those enduring current and past storms, due to both severe weather events and life’s tragedies, to know that God is with us in the midst of it all. I found myself feeling calm and thankful for God’s presence in my house and in me through this morning’s heavy weather and praying that those who need God’s peace now would know and receive it. In Jesus’ name.

My mind went to thinking about God’s peace, His shalom, completeness and wholeness. Out of curiosity I decided to see what explanations I would find if I Googled “how to have the shalom of God.” I found this excellent short video about God’s shalom – peace (check it out). Once the video ended I noticed it was produced by BibleProject.

I noticed another video they produced, called Soul (awesome explanation)! This jumped out to me right away, because as a Christian educator I am always looking for simple and visual explanations about the soul since it’s inanimate, especially when trying to explain it to children and teens. Wow, I am so glad I viewed it. It is a great help and I wish I had had the opportunity to see and learn from this when I was a teenager.

After watching the video, the scripture verse above, called the “Shema” (from the Hebrew word for “hear!” or “listen!”), came to my mind and I was led to page 51 of the book that my wife and I are using as our personal bible study, The Lord’s Prayer: the Meaning and Power of the Prayer Jesus Taught by Adam Hamilton. I love the connection the author makes when he wrote:

It is the hope of the faithful Jews that these will be the last words on their lips at their death, and if they are unable to say them at that time, that someone will recite them on their behalf. For many Christians, the closest thing we have to the Shema, in terms of something recited daily and at our death, is the Lord’s Prayer. We know the great commandments Jesus named, but it is this prayer he taught us that often represents the final words on our lips, or on the lips of those who love us as they entrust us to God’s safekeeping.

As I finished reading that passage some of the lyrics from the song “Run to the Father” kept coming to mind and spirit, so I found this video of “Run to the Father” by Cody Carnes. It offers such an important reminder that no matter what we’re going through we can go to the Father again and again to let it all go and lay it all down, and to fall into grace.

Well, it’s 5:43 am and I am finally feeling ready to close my eyes and get a little more rest. But before I do, I return to the prayers of the people and my eyes are drawn to the following prayer for us all…

Lord, let your loving kindness be upon them… who put their trust in you.

Shalom – Peace – Eirene
In Christ,

Paul Garcia is the Head of School and Chief Executive Officer for St. Barnabas Episcopal School in Florida. His Master’s degree in Physical Education, Personal and Corporate Wellness Management has served him well in all of his academic, ministry, and public speaking roles. Curriculum Trak has been such a valuable platform and support for Paul’s work to successfully develop his teachers’ curriculum mapping skills and faith integration across all academic disciplines. Paul’s background includes serving as the Director of Children,Youth, and Family Ministries, Physical Education Teacher (Prek-8th Grade), and Assistant Head of School. His passion is empowering, educating, and equipping people, especially young people, to see and know that they have incredible value and worth and that they are unconditionally loved by God; to develop loving right relationships, to discover and live into their calling to share their God-given gifts and serve others to build His kingdom here on earth! Paul has been happily married for 32 years to his wife and best friend, Lori (a K-8 Reading and Learning Specialist). They are the proud parents of Kayla (30) and Matthew (24).

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash