Peace: The state of mutual harmony between people and groups; freedom of mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, or an obsession; tranquil or untroubled. The world cries out for peace in so many different ways, does it not? There is constant turmoil over who should be in control of the countries, what lands should belong to which people groups, or even whole nations in upheaval sometimes over which religious pursuit is superior to another. The very ground seems to be in this state of a "lack of peace" when earthquakes and volcanic activity abound, sending people into turmoil and fleeing for their lives. Even "nature" itself seems to live contrary to the normal cycle of things, with increasing drought in areas once known for their mild weather and lush growing conditions, floods in deserts, and storms tearing apart structures in regions not previously affected by such horrendous upheaval. There is definitely a lack of peace in our world today - at least external to the lives of the ones who call themselves children of the Most High God! In the midst of all this chaos, the child of God finds one thing steadfast - the overwhelmingly quieting peace of God!
The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm. So always trust the Lord because he is forever our mighty rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4 CEV)
God's peace is truth-based, therefore it is "perfect" in every way. All other peace is fleeting and based upon only someone else's interpretation of the truth - therefore it is less than reliable, subject to change, and certainly not "perfect" in any way. Nothing apart from God is ever "perfect" anyway. All perfection is based solely in his holiness and is only made possible to his kids because of this "shared" relationship we enjoy because of Christ Jesus. When we lack anything, all we need to do is turn fully into the face of Jesus and see all we need!
Most of us don't worry about the world's turmoil - for it is not our present turmoil we deal with at this moment. Sure, we are moved by the loss of life in other countries, and even the devastation of horrendous storms which claim home, family, and livelihood. Yet, it is not knocking on our front door, so we don't really "connect" with in intimately. Until that devastation affects us personally, we are just onlookers, moved to some action, but not intimately engaged in the day-to-day battle of leaving with a lack of peace!
For most of us, the "present turmoil" we deal with is most likely closer to the second definition I gave above - the state of mind where we are in turmoil, dealing with distraction, living amid anxiety, waging war with an obsessive thought process, or just plain feeling like every action produces a troubling effect within. To those of us who deal with this daily, let me just offer us a word of hope - God's perfect peace is available! Nice words, but how do we put this into practice in our overburdened, overstimulated, and overdone thought processes?
First and foremost, as you have heard me say many times, we need to get our thoughts centered on the right stuff. Focus determines direction - focus on the negative and we will squarely face the negative time and time again; focus on the hope we have in Christ Jesus to rise above those troubles we face and we might just find a different focus produces a different outcome! Nothing "shuts down" negative thought quicker than when we allow the presence of God to invade our minds - for nothing unholy can dwell in the midst of his holiness! The troubling thoughts are shut down because we cannot focus on Jesus and entertain any measure of unholiness in our lives.
Second, we must be truthful with ourselves about what it is we are feeling - how it is life has messed with our brains and where it is we have stashed away the "garbage" we have been secretly squirreling away in the recesses of our minds. No mind is ever free of the "unholy" until we allow the "holy" to uncover the trash hidden there! Once exposed, we need to be willing to let it be swept clean. Therein is the rub - for we often justify why it is we hold onto the very things which do nothing more than rob us of God's true peace within. Why? I think we might just have to admit we like our pain more than we like the promise of his healing!
Third, when we finally are willing to let go of what we have squirreled away which has so negatively impacted our thoughts, we need to replace those thoughts with something. You cannot "create a space" and expect it to remain empty - empty space has a way of being filled again! If we don't allow the Holy Spirit to help us know what to refill that space with once it is cleaned out, we will probably just go back to squirreling away stuff we will one day have to clean out again! God's plan is for the things which produce right thought and action to dwell there - so he gives us his Holy Spirit to help us fill those areas with meaningful and purposeful thought. Things such as his Word, so we will be ready in season and out to give an answer for the hope which dwells deep within.
Last, but not least, we need to allow order where there has been chaos. This means we let go of the things we have held so tightly to for so long. One "riding out a storm" holds tightly to whatever he has in his clutches - because it ties him to his past even when all else seems to be washed away. It is this tie which God so desperately wants us to be free from - for nothing will anchor us to him until we are willing to fully let go of what has anchored us to our past. Just sayin!