Friday, July 29, 2011

Peace the World Cannot Give

a state of mutual harmony between people or groups,especially in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.

Close your eyes.  Try to envision what peace means to you.  To me, I feel a sense of calm, quiet, stillness and even a bit of a sense of freedom when I think of what it would mean to have peace in my life.  It means the distractions of life have been shelved, at least for the moment I'm in.  No phones, no computers, no noise.  Stillness of mind, body and soul.

There is this type of peace, but then there's another.  There is the peace that only comes from God.  Peace that passes understanding.  Peace the world cannot give.  Can you think of a time in your life when you have truly experienced this type of peace?  I experienced this peace last year before my mother passed away.  I anguished over the fact that her illness was terminal.  I cried inconsolably over the loss that was going to happen - not knowing when, but knowing it was looming somewhere out there in the future.  I just wanted to be alone at times. I hurt so badly.  Some months before she passed, though, I really and truly gave this situation over to the Lord because I just couldn't handle it anymore.  I had a very sick child at the time who was in and out of the hospital, getting worse and worse with each illness.  I had my mother over 1,100 miles away with this terrible illness, wishing with all my heart I could be there with her.  It was too much.  

I can't recall the exact day that I handed it all to God.  I do know this, though.  Once I did that, my attitude towards the inevitable changed.  It was no less upsetting to think about losing my mother, but a burden was lifted.  I most definitely experienced a peace that surpassed human understanding.  The focus of my prayers shifted.  Not that she would be set free from illness to continue life here on earth with us, but that God's will be done, no matter what that meant.  I prayed fervently for her to be made whole and be healed completely - in the manner God wanted.  I made peace with the inevitable before she passed.  When I visited my mother just a few weeks before she passed away, she wasn't too communicative, but I was able to tell her things that {to me} would have been somewhat freeing to hear if it were me in her position.  The ability to have that conversation most certainly only came through the peace and grace of God.

We have to know that God wants to bless us and He wants to offer this peace to us.  But He also wants us to seek it out, not just expect it.  He asks us to turn our troubles over to Him that we may gain peace.  He asks us to seek wisdom and guidance from Him,  In doing so, we can can be given this peace.  Through our humble obedience to God, we can gain peace.  The Lord doesn't want us to be anxious about anything, but to pray for everything.  {Phil 4:6-7}  Can you think about ways in which you actively seek peace from God through these things?  This chapter of "Becoming a Woman of Simplicity" goes on to say that this peace comes from the trust that we have placed in God.  When we trust Him, we are well-positioned to accept the grace and peace that He provides.

My study of this book is fast coming to a close, with only one more chapter to go.  Time and time again, I hear the words abiding, peace, silence, calmness and so on.  Go back to what your vision of peace was when you first began to read this post.  I'm going to guess many of you have envisioned someplace quiet and still.  So, if we want to achieve God's peace, don't you think that we need to become quiet and still before God?  How do you spend your time with God?  When do you spend your time with God?  I don't think it matters if it's a few minutes or an hour or more.  At some point, I do think our time needs to be spent in quiet solitude somewhere away from distractions.  If that's a quiet place at home before the kids are up, great.  That's pretty much what it is for me.  It means getting up at 5:00am so that I can read scripture and work on this book study before the noise of the day begins.  If it means heading to the lake for some alone time, then do it.  It could mean taking a walk outside, or going to a favorite park, or even to church.  When we find ourselves alone before God, we are better able to focus on Him and to hear Him.

Finally, this book talks about forgiveness as a means to achieving that peace.  How can we have true peace within ourselves if there's something eating us from the inside out?  Is there someone or something we need to forgive in order to move forward?  That's going to be a totally personal thing, but consider it.  I know there are a lot of people out there with huge hurts out there.  People have been torn apart by situations that I can't even begin to comprehend.  I don't know how you move past some things, but I know it's possible to move past some big stuff.  I'm going to be real with you and be vulnerable here.  I was the kid that got picked on throughout elementary school.  I was the kid who got beat up for about four years straight in elementary school by the neighborhood bully {a girl, no less!}.  I was the kid who was the target of much verbal abuse {heavy duty angry I don't know what to call it..."teasing" doesn't seem to do it justice} by the beautiful people in my elementary school class.  Good gracious - kids can be so horribly cruel!!  I was also the 19 year old young woman in university who found herself somehow waking up in the bed of some guy I didn't know, having been raped {and probably drugged somehow since I still don't know how things went down some 19 years later!  good grief...19 years ago???...I feel old!}.  

The point of all this is that, while it doesn't compare to a lifetime of abuse at the hands of a parent, relative, or family friend, or some other such atrocity, I've been through some stuff!!  It wasn't until sometime in the past two years or so that I forgave it all!!!  I was carrying around a burden for years that was far greater than I could bear any longer.  One night with my husband, Ron, we talked and talked and I broke down and wept.  I gave it all up to God.  There's no way today I could be able to handle all I'm going through currently if I was still carrying around the weight of all of those past hurts.  Does it mean that what any of those people did was any less wrong {or illegal}??  Certainly not!!  But it's not mine to carry around any longer.  God wants to shoulder our burdens for us.  God is the one who will judge whoever needs to be judged one day.  Most certainly, if I had not actively chosen to forgive all of these people of their wrong-doings, I would not be able to have the peace that God desires for me.

God is our strength, our rock, our refuge, our fortress, our Redeemer.  Free yourselves from things that are weighing you down.  Be still.  Find that quiet calm place where you can enter His presence and just abide in His loving mercy and be given the peace He longs to give you - a peace that only comes from Him.

Psalm 29:11 (NIV)

11 The LORD gives strength to his people;
   the LORD blesses his people with peace.

reflections on chapter 10 of "becoming a woman of simplicity".  more insights to come as i journey through this book...

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