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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Just a little peace, please

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. So trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great Rock—strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting. (Isaiah 26:3-4 VOICE)

Anyone other than me really wanting "perfect peace" in their lives? As our world goes through transition after transition and things seem to be getting worse instead of better, sometimes I just want to call for a "do-over". Yes, I have internal peace, but all around me there seems to be chaos and a little bit too much harshness - certainly nothing I could even think was peaceful in the lives for so many around me. Why? We have a whole lot of hearts and minds still bent on pleasing self, finding their way through life thinking the world owes them something, or that they can manipulate things to happen so as to get what they want in the circumstance. They push, pull, criticize, strategize, and take calculated steps they think will get them to the point they will know "peace", but in the end, they are like a spinning top just about to topple over when all the "spin" is gone. At best, they are a little too wobbly for their own good and wobbly things have a way of crashing into other things (or people), setting them off-balance in turn!

As much as we may try, we cannot make "our own peace" - it is just not possible. Sure, you could become a recluse in the woods somewhere, but is that really knowing "peace" or just secluding oneself in a peaceful location? God's peace is the only peace which both settles the troubled mind and reorients the wayward heart. It is the only peace we can truthfully say is "permanent" and "trustworthy" - because it doesn't begin with any of us - it begins and ends with him alone! We all want strength, stability, trusted places and circumstances in our lives. We cannot find those things in a "place" or even in a "person" because they are only found in Christ. Our writer directs us to two actions on our part - dedication of the heart (emotion and passion) and mind (intellect and reason). The rest - strength, stability, trustworthiness, and the ability to outlast anyone or anything else - to God himself.

Emotion and passion - the heart - why are we called to dedicate these first and foremost to God? I believe it is because we are so emotionally "driven" - it is the basis of how we respond so many times. When we have our emotions rightly directed - we get a whole lot closer to stable decisions fueled by the right passion! We might think getting on the course to internal peace begins with getting our minds right - thoughts ordered, intellect filled with only the best stuff, and reason no longer calculating the best plans, but knowing them instinctively. The truth is we can have all of those things in order in our lives and still make some really bad choices which directly impact our internal peace all because our emotions override our intellect - our passion pushes us forward. When we dedicate our emotions and passions to Christ, we are saying we don't want the wrong passion in play any longer - we want to submit it to the purpose God designed. We "get" peace by ensuring we take the right steps toward peace - not that we create it ourselves.

As the emotions and passions of our heart begin to be rightly ordered by God's design and control, we begin to see a reshaping of our thought and reasoning. It becomes more purposeful, ordered, rational, and responsible. It doesn't argue with the emotion or passion - because they begin to be aligned and moving in the same direction. The passage we are considering begins by saying, "By the grace of God, our city is strong; its structures and defenses He made secure. Now open the gates to welcome the righteous, so that those who keep faith may enter in." The "city" of our souls is made strong - its structures and defenses made secure - when we open the gates of our hearts and minds to Christ. We don't find peace - it enters into us and becomes the stabilizing force of our lives by first affecting our emotions, influencing our passions, reordering our thought, and ultimately helping us with sound reasoning.  Four things we cannot neglect if we want to know and live in peace today. Just sayin!