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January 2018

February 2018

My Quest for Peace Stressed Me Out

Don’t you just hate it when you lose something? It’s even worse when you lose it a second time. I had peace, then it left me or I lost it. All I know is that my search for peace left me stressed out. You can’t experience peace if you’re pressuring yourself to be at peace! That’s just being crazy which is where I find myself frequently these days. Yes, I live better when my heart and mind is at peace but striving for it is not the method Jesus prescribes. So, how do I hold onto this treasure, make it my lived experience? Last month’s post focused on stress and how it can consume our life and steal from us. This month I’m encouraging you (and me, too) to let peace have its way in your heart and mind.

Peace 4 - Peace path

When I dwell on what peace can do, I think of so many wonderful possibilities. Peace is that healing balm for a hurting heart, a craving for a busy mom, or a sense of well-being that calms a worried mind. Peace soothes and refreshes over-whelmed senses. The Bible says peace is found in God’s promises, peace is Jesus’ gift to us, the peace of God stands guard over us, and the Holy Spirit counsels us to receive peace. The Bible is filled with encouragement on how to let peace take root in your heart and mind. My mission is to receive and hold onto the peace Jesus promises that I can have.

Peace 5 - Girl with Bible

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27, NIV)

When I’m face to face with trouble or an escalating problem, too often I head straight to the intersection of Worry Way and Anxiety Avenue. Unfortunately, my immediate reaction to turn to worry and fear-filled anxiety is deeply embedded. It’s a habit I need to resist for two reasons. First, my inner turmoil affects those who interact with me. My lack of peace can keep me from responding to others with the peace of Christ. I very much want people to find peace and leave with peace after they have been with me. The second reason to resist worry and fear is because Jesus tells us we should.

Jesus tells His followers to not let their hearts entertain fear because fear (being afraid) and peace cannot dwell together. Further, the apostle Paul told his beloved Timothy that he was not given a spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power! It’s a reminder for you and me, today. As a Christian, peace is a choice-point and the Holy Spirit will lead me to it. Choosing to let peace rule my heart instead of fear gives me power to resist worry, anxiety, and fear. It's my love relationship with Jesus that gives me access to his gift of peace. Realized or not, our souls hunger for a strong peace, a sustaining peace. We need a peace that fortifies and heals. By going too long without the peace of Christ, we become parched, weary, and lifeless. Jesus wants us to live with well with courage and with hope. His peace within us restores what stress, worry, and fear deplete.  

Peace 6 - Guard

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

Can you conjure a mental image of peace as a guardian ready to defend your heart and mind from the poisoned arrows of dark fear and worry? Peace is your guardian when you let peace take control of your heart. Our God knows we cannot stand against the constant assault by the world day after day. While peace can be our response towards people and trouble, it's challenging. For that reason, we have the Holy Spirit as our necessary counselor leading us to peace.

Your first step to safeguard your heart and mind from turmoil, anxiety, and fear is this--let the peace of Jesus control, guard your heart. (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

Dark fears and uncontrolled worry poisons your mind leading you towards a pervading negative outlook. But, God’s peace draws you to a different experience—a calm quietness encapsulating your heart and mind. Jesus wants to carry your fears and worries, lifting that burden off your frame. You get to choose to exchange those burdens for peace. When peace is in charge of your heart and mind, then it controls your response instead of the circumstance.1

I’m writing this post about peace knowing full-well I struggle with the practice of peace. Frankly, I get frustrated with myself letting anxiety take hold. Why don’t I have more self-control and go straight to the peace path? Where I am weak, the Lord provides. Thankfully, the Spirit prompts me and nudges me to receive the alternative. I’m so grateful I’m not alone in the spiritual battle over my heart and mind. I’m developing the practice of seeking peace in heart and mind with the Lord as my teacher.

Peaece 3 - Reflections

Your Soul at Ease

Imagery is powerful and David’s 23rd Psalm portrays tranquility. Mindfully imagine the scene in these verses:

“You, Lord, make me lie down in green pastures, and You, Lord, lead me beside quiet waters. You alone restore my soul. And You, Lord, guide me to paths designed for me.”

This word picture creates within me a craving to experience what David writes--moments of quiet, contentment, and stillness of heart and mind. David’s words help me imagine those things that my Father in heaven wants me to receive: rest, restoration, calmness, and a relinquishing of every one of my worries and concerns.

Having all this information in your back pocket perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes, I agree that peace is all that you’ve described and I would love to have it and live peace-filled, but is it realistic?”

What I can and can’t do

Icon Hearts EncouragedI simply can’t manufacture peace out of my own resources.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can ask the Holy Spirit to help me let peace supersaturate my heart and mind.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can mindfully let His peace control my heart so it’s my automatic choice.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can embed that sense of peace, the experience of God’s peace, as a remembrance so I will seek it.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can choose peace as my response.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can intentionally seek peace moments with God. 

Peace Prayer

May You, the God of Hope, fill me to the full with joy and peace as I trust in You. Please let me overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:1, NIV paraphrased)

Praying this verse is your request for a joy and peace that super-saturates your soul and envelopes your mind. You’re saying you trust God to fill you with peace and you believe there is no limit on the duration or the amount of peace you can receive. Believe it, sister! You’re making this request with an expectation of receiving joy, peace, and hope so you can endure and remain encouraged in every situation.2

And don’t forget that the Holy Spirit leads you, shepherds you to peace, and helps you respond with peace. It’s worth the effort to resist fear and worry and hand the controls over to peace. It’s a way of living that Jesus died to give us.

I would love to know of your experiences with seeking and receiving peace. Your comments do so much to encourage others. Thank you so much to those who commented on the stress post in January. Blessings, Terri

References

1 - Psalm 9:10; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (2nd printing new ed. 2011). Page 891. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA.

2  - Romans 15:4-6