Hi everyone! I’ve had a lot opportunity lately to think about peace. In my view, we look and hope for many things in life–meaning, purpose, acceptance, and love–but peace, something our hearts crave, is often illusive. A life without it though seems to me very stressful and filled with anxiety. It’s worth the effort then, don’t you think, to consider how we can obtain peace and carry it with us as we journey through life.
Our family has walked through a painful trial over the past several years. Just when life seems to return to some sort of normalcy, one aspect or another of the situation rears its ugly head, and we find ourselves plunged, once again, into fear and despair. But then we remind ourselves of the truth we have learned through our experiences: our circumstances do not change who God is. He is a good, good Father and he can be trusted. When we run to him at these low points, he is there and he offers us the peace we long for.
The prophet Isaiah tells us in Chapter 26, verse 3 that He [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. From this verse we learn that (1) God gives peace, (2) he gives it to those with steadfast minds, and (3) a steadfast mind comes via trust in him. Peace comes when we steadfastly trust in the living God for everything. But how do we go about developing that kind of God-trust? Gordon MacDonald in his classic, Ordering Your Private World, takes just under 200 pages to answer this question. I will attempt to answer it with three: Time. With. God.
He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind
is steadfast because he trusts in you.
One does not acquire a steadfast mind [a heart committed to God and a will won over by Christ] in just one day. This place of firm belief and trust is grown, rather like a garden, over years of faithful devotion and time spent with him. I love how MacDonald puts it:
For me the appropriate metaphor for the inner spiritual center is a garden, a place of potential peace and tranquility. This garden is a place where the Spirit of God comes to make self-disclosure, to share wisdom, to give affirmation or rebuke, to provide encouragement, and to give direction and guidance. When this garden is in proper order, it is a quiet place, and there is an absence of busyness, of defiling noise, of confusion (118).
These times spent with God in quietness, in reading scripture, and in talking with him, are essential to attaining the peace we seek. MacDonald explains that “There must be these moments when we break our routines, from other relationships, from the demands of the outer world, to meet him in the garden (126),” because from this place “comes the energy [peace] that overcomes turbulence and is not intimidated by it” (25). In other words, when the world around us rages like a storm or even a hurricane, we will not be moved because he has given us what we need to stand. We can remain steady in the face the turbulence because we know whose we are and that he can be trusted. We know the depth and height of his love for us and are convinced that he has things under control, even when they appear entirely out of control.
We can face the turbulence in our lives,
because we know who’s we are.
Are you going through a turbulent time? Are you anxious about the future? Are you run ragged by all of your responsibilities? There is a place we can go, a “garden” where we can quiet our souls and refresh our spirits–whether through simple conversation, crying out to him with tears, or allowing the Holy Spirit to minister in his unique and mysterious way. But we must go there. We must set aside the time, quiet our busy minds, and begin the conversation.
Engage with God and he will engage with you.
In my “garden” times, I like to start by telling him how I feel, then I might open to the psalms and begin reading its comforting words, or I might simply begin to hum a chorus or an old hymn. Writing in my journal–whatever strikes me as important, perhaps a scripture, a thought, or a quote from a book I’m reading–is always a part of my garden time. Oh, and don’t forget to ask him, “What do you have to say to me today, Lord?” Engage with God and he will engage with you, and when you leave the garden, you will find he has left you with some peace, or as Psalm 26 calls it, perfect peace. Couldn’t we all use some of that?
For more ideas on how to spend time in the “garden” with God:
Faithought: Connecting with God
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