the path to peace

This afternoon I had the chance to interview a beautiful woman with a truly incredible story. As she told me about the many obstacles she has faced in her life, from losing an arm at the age of twenty-one to losing her husband at the age of thirty-seven, I marveled at her strength and determination to carry on. Knowing that she is a woman of great faith now, I asked if she has always had this faith to carry her… “oh, no” came her quick response… “and that’s why it was so hard. I didn’t know. But now, looking back, I can see that God was always there with me, I just didn’t know it then.”

We talked for a bit about the difference it would have made if she would have known God her whole life. Certainly, she was still able to press through the storm and come out on the other side… but she had no peace in the process. The difference now isn’t the absence of struggles, she has more than her fair share of those, it’s the presence of peace.

“I can’t complain” she said with a sweet smile as I asked about her current health concerns, “my life is very blessed…”

That’s what peace looks like.

In my profession, working with the aged and disabled in their homes, I see many, many, many people who are far less disabled than she is, with far worse attitudes. My friend HIPAA won’t let me tell you specifics, but take my word for it, there are some very unhappy people in this world.

And the only difference is Who they know. I see so many people with great faith smile from the middle of the storm, clinging to the one who is worthy, trusting His will. And, sadly, I see so many more who are lost, and confused, and blown about by the winds of this life. Angry. Frustrated. Anxious.

As I drove away from her single-wide trailor, I thought of my own journey of faith. Those dark, dark days when I couldn’t get pregnant. I was far from God, and the sadness and disappointment I felt was overwhelming. I felt lost and alone and punished as I roamed aimlessly through the valley. And I know that I exuded darkness to others. I was impossible to be around.  Oh, how that journey would have looked different if I knew then what I know now… that God can be trusted. No matter what, He can be trusted. Even when the answer is no, He can be trusted.  And this is where we find peace… in trusting Him.

I know that some of you reading this post are so, so hungry for peace.  Some of you are going through the storm right now, and all you want is a little peace. Some of you are living in households that are full of chaos and strife, and you have cried out for Jesus to bring peace a thousand times. Some of you are facing a diagnosis that terrifies, or finances that are failing, or a marriage in decline. And all you want peace.

You have been on my heart this week. The Lord has taken me into His Word, prayers have been uttered in the watches of the night. Peace for your children, Lord… and He is showing me there is a path to peace.

Last Saturday morning as I soaked in a sanctuary full of the sound of worship, I was drawn into Isaiah 26…

Isn’t it amazing how a scripture that you have heard dozens of times suddenly becomes real to you?

This was one of those times.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 
Do you want peace?

Father God says...Trust me.  Look to me.  Focus on me.  Trust me.  I got this.

He doesn't say that He will calm every storm. He doesn’t promise to keep this world in perfect peace, or even our own little corners of it... oh how I wish it were that easy...  no, instead He promises to keep us [me, you] in perfect peace.  Regardless of what is going on around us, He promises peace... and not just a little peace... but perfect peace. Peace that passes understanding.  Peace that is complete, peace that is bigger than the storm or trial we are walking through, bigger than the rocky marriage, or declining health, or failing finances...

But this peace that passes understanding only comes when we trust Him, when we really, really trust Him with a steadfast trust. Isaiah 26:3 promises us this, and Philippians 4:6-7 echos the same thing:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus says... Trust me.  Look to me.  Focus on me.  Trust me.  I got this.

Whatever you are facing, you can take it to Jesus and trust that He will bring peace. Maybe not to the storms in your life, but definitely to the storms in you.  Have you seen people walk this out?  Some of the greatest stories of faith I know are of people who, in the midst of mind-boggling loss, or chaos, or hurt continue to look to Christ, and in doing so, exude such sweet peace.  They are not shaken, because their foundation is secure. They are steadfast. Friends, you will only ever find real peace in Jesus, through steadfast focus on Him and His kingdom. It is by knowing and trusting His heart, and that He only has good plans for you, regardless of the chaos this world may be throwing your way.  It's having our eyes ever, only on Jesus. Then He will guard our hearts and minds from the attacks of this world. Take it to Jesus, and then trust Him with it! That is the only way we can ever hope to have real peace!

Yet, too often we put our trust in this world. In our bank accounts or our doctors or our security. But this world will always fail us. Even good, good people, will fail us at times. Jesus will never fail usand knowing this... really knowing this, is what keeps us in perfect peace. 

It is really knowing this truth that emboldens us to live a sold-out lifestyle, a steadfast life. A life that trusts Him no matter what, so that we can walk wherever He has asked us to walk in perfect peace.  Even if that path goes through sickness, or loss, or hurt.  It is having a mind that is immovable, determined, intent, focused.  It is trusting His enough-ness enough.

That is when peace comes.

That we can look back on all the mountains and the valleys, when we can look into our current circumstances, when we can look into the uncertainty of tomorrow and say “God is with me all the time… my life is very blessed”.

Father, I confess that at times, I do not trust you enough. I confess that I worry about things that are already in Your more than capable hands. I confess that I put my trust in others, when I should always, always, always be focused on You. Father steady our minds on WHO YOU ARE. Plant in our hearts the confidence that You will never fail us! We know this with our heads, but God I am asking that you would invade our hearts with this truth, so that our eyes would ever and always be fixed on yours... in your beautiful Son's name I pray... amen...

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