Peace Like a River

Do not be afraid

Our modern-day, psychological “jitters” confront us on a daily basis; sudden, random gun violence and shootings, domestic terrorism, headline news stories of ongoing, new crimes in our community, the stress of living in a frenzied world with crazy drivers on the road next to you, the troubling concerns of making financial ends meet in an unpredictable job market, aging and health worries, the moral issues our children or grandchildren are dealing with, the list goes on…..nothing is as ‘easy or simple’ as it used to be.

Even, trying to get some kind of timely customer service assistance with an issue from a product or service we have purchased and paid for can try even the most patient of souls. Ironically, it appears our culture is getting even more complex as we speak in spite of all our impressive, technological advances designed to “simplify our lives.” Remember how many passwords you used to have to know?

“Do you think we need peace of mind today?” I doubt you will find anyone anywhere who will disagree with that. The question is ‘where?’

Here’s one kind of peace: the world does offer a “temporal fix,” a type of transitory “peace” usually in the form of a pill, a drug, the bottle of some kind of exotic experience designed to boost our emotions and make us forget about life for awhile. Here again, the problem is that it doesn’t last. It is fragile and it always depends on something we must do to get it. We become dependent on it and sooner or later we have to do more of it, pushing the boundaries of our health, in order to feel the same experience. A vicious, no-win cycle.

Additional, this peace depends on the “absence of conflict.” The world says, “if you make enough money, achieve all your goals, find your dreams all coming true, then and only then will you finally achieve your nirvana.” Change your environment and then you’ll have peace of mind.

And, then we wonder when hear about those very fortunate few who somehow achieved all of these things, yet are still miserable inside and eventually implode, famous celebrities and just normal folks. Another dead-end street.

“So, what is answer?” 

Friends, I have personally discovered one of the many, wonderful “perks” of the Christ-centered life; the dynamic, powerful work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. When we seriously submit our lives to the Lordship of Christ, seeking to sincerely obey His Word in everything, a remarkable thing happens; His supernatural peace stills and smooths the sloshing sea of turmoil, frustration and anxiety deep in our hearts.

This may sound like I’m saying that God’s peace is more or less something we generate, based on our relationship to Christ. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. God’s peace is totally an unmerited, undeserved, unearned “gift of God’s grace” alone, based on what Jesus did for us at the cross, “God made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. He made PEACE with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20)

Much like the story of the raging sea, threatening the life of the disciples in the boat with Jesus, He speaks to that inner spiritual sea in our soul and commands, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) And, the result? Perfect calm.

“But, really all this sounds too good to be true?”

I actually once thought that myself. I was once a skeptic who somewhat dismissed these promises of peace for everyone. In my mind, I assumed God’s peace is reserved only to those “super saints,” those pious souls who mediate like monks or nuns all the time. Furthermore, I reasoned God’s peace was “psycho-somatic” — if you think about it enough, it will come true. You just have to “psych-yourself-out.” You know, mind over matter. But, who in the world has time to climb the top of a mountain and chant to Buddha or somebody else all day long? Forget that.

The truth is when we open our hearts to God completely and allow Him to control our lives, then all of our problems will magically disappear. Not! Unfortunately, some well-meaning people today try and paint the Christian life in those flowery terms. But, to those of us who have walked with Jesus long enough, we know that is simply unrealistic. Jesus even promised there would be trouble for all who follow Him because the world is in direct conflict with the truth of God, where we stand; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

The peace of Christ is the confident assurance that in any circumstance we find ourselves in, we can really live fearless lives where the unknown present and future is in God’s hands, not ours. The peace of God “umpires” our heart and controls the worry, uncertainty, doubts, frustrations and fears at war within us. These hostile forces become restrained and are not allowed to dominate our thinking because Christ is on the throne of our hearts, not ourselves. But, we have to relinquish control of our lives to God IF we want God’s peace. And, that only comes from a daily decision on our part to “surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

For many years I did my very best to avoid turning my life over completely to Christ. I was a professing Christian, but I still wanted to be in control. I honestly thought if I let God be God in my life, I’d miss out on my definition of peace and fun. I now realize how much I really missed, going my own way, and how wrong I was in doing that. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If real, lasting peace means anything to you, please consider what I’ve shared here from my heart. It’s God’s promise and gift to you, if you will receive it on His terms. It’s yours for the taking;

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And, the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid,” (Jesus in John 14:27-28)