This past year, my family decided to watch the entire Seinfeld series. My children are now old enough to get the jokes, and enough time has passed for my husband and me, that we have forgotten the jokes and hear them anew.
In one favorite episode, whenever George’s father, Frank’s blood pressure gets high, he is supposed to use a relaxation technique in which he says to himself, “Serenity now.” Instead of saying this as intended—in a calm, tranquil, meditative manner—Frank screams it, very likely skyrocketing his blood pressure even further. The effect is hysterical, and I realize, I am laughing, too, at myself.
When I am anxious or frightened, I call out to God, and much like Frank Costanza, I cry out, “Come on! Give me some of that peace which surpasses all understanding!” (Philippians 4:7) I am frantic, nearly frenetic, searching for something, anything to help the situation. I want peace! I’ve been promised in Scripture that God has this peace, but I yell and gasp for it as intensely and counterproductively as Frank.
And quietly, calmly, Jesus says, just as he did to Peter, as he walked on water, “Do not be afraid.” Like Peter, I look at the wind and the rain and the water and start to sink. “Serenity now!” I scream, and Jesus says, “Just. Look. At. Me.” And then, when I do, it is like those scenes in a movie, when everything else becomes fuzzy, and two people lock eyes and focus. This is how it happens.
When I keep my eyes on Jesus, the drama, anxiety, suffering, and fear that once plagued me are gone. I see how beautiful Jesus is. I see how he is worthy of my worship. When the world seems to crash around me, I’ve been learning to double down on my time with God. This is how I keep my eyes on him. I make sure I am reading Scripture and praying and singing to God, and when I do this, I realize just how marvelous God is, and my problems don’t seem that big at all. And I feel that peace I read about and was promised, that serenity.
I have learned this most the last six months. Each time a trial comes, it takes me less time to look at Jesus. Each time, I feel I have learned so much since the last time. I am learning to trust God so much more. I feel at peace so much more quickly during the trial. And I know, one day, as I learn to keep my eyes on Jesus and to spend as much time as possible walking through this life with him, I know this sense of serenity won’t go away. Even when the wave threatens to crash upon me, I know he’s with me.
Photo by Sascha Thiele via Pexels.
Thanks Shemaiah for this inspiring piece of writing. I am reminded of a hymn which goes like, “No one can give to me that peace, which my Risen Lord, my Risen King can give”.
Thanks Shemaiah: was just telling this same story about Frank Constanza and the serenity Prayer to my guitar teacher. the episode really is hilarious!
Frank has been told that he can conjure serenity all on his own by uttering the words. It doesn’t work. We look to Christ for serenity; much better! But as you write, we can’t make Christ deliver serenity to us at our every beck and call. We have to search Him out. Hard to do, in the middle of everyday distractions, or worse, a crisis of some sort. You tell of your ongoing discipline of staying with the search, the prayer, and how it’s yielding fruit. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m trying to do the same.
Thanks so much for this message!
Thank you for your heart-warming reflection and one I needed to hold close.
The image that during the turbulent storms of life (and who doesn’t have those) I am called, each of us is called, by Jesus to look at Him and walk towards His outstretched hands is a blessing.
I need this reminder every day!
Funny, in the last year, mostly last 6 months I feel that same peaceful pull. But it was after I realized that I was hiding something from Jesus-and it was that I said I trusted but I really did not always trust as I should. He showed me this so I could realize why I didn’t have that peace I wanted… now I can find that peace more often
Thank you for sharing this! I love hearing how Jesus reveals himself to us.
Thanks I enjoy these articles and prayers. I was forwarding all this to friends of mine and would like to continue. Is it ok? daphne stockman
Daphne, it’s fine to share the links to our content with friends, but have you considered inviting those friends to receive our content directly by subscribing? Sharing this link will work for that purpose: https://www.loyolapress.com/general/newsletters/.
Honored Daphne! Share away!