Having a baby opened up an entire realm of possible reasons to be anxious. Granted, any new role or position in life can do that, right? New job, new city, new dreams… new battlegrounds for a peaceful heart.
All praise to the Lord and Savior who is perfect so I don’t have to be. For me, the striving for peace can be an hourly surrendering, or a day’s worth of being stuck in a quicksand of worries. My tendency is to believe that I’ll know peace if I feel comfortable or prepared for a situation, so I turn it over and over in my mind until I feel okay about it. I’m tempted to live in the future, imagining scenarios, instead of remaining in the present, where God’s grace promises to be. Still, there are seeds I hope to plant in my daughter’s life, in my friends’ lives and in my marriage. There are ways of being and walking with Jesus that I hope Anna catches from how I operate as she grows up.
Trying to maintain peace by my own version of preparedness for the future is not sustainable, or grounded in the gospel. Plus, it leaves me tired and discouraged.
But God reminds me,
To be a peaceful person is not to be so competent in peace you never have to ask for it again; it’s to repeatedly come and receive My peace.
Where do we see repetitive asking? One obvious place to me is in curious and needy children. I am a few years away from this stage of life, but I have enough friends who are in this season to know a fraction of what it is like. Seemingly constant asks for food or drink or help or the eyes of their parents as they draw or do a trick, kids repeat themselves over and over and over all day. In light of our perfectly patient, joyful and caring Father, to live in a rhythm of asking and receiving is actually pretty awesome.
“God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.”A.W. Tozer
Peace is more like manna than a perfect state of being I finally arrive at.
The story of God’s gift of manna-provision for the Israelites is found in Exodus 16. God said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you” (16:4). The people were to go out each day and collect enough sustenance for that day only.
Being a peaceful person is directly correlated to abiding in Jesus, not preparedness, control or competency. Being a peace-giving person is the product of moment-by-moment dependence on God. It’s most often the endurance of a Presence and Person more than an easy, warm feeling. Jesus beckons us to such a dependent life in Luke 11,
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (9-13)
Martin Luther said, “Pray, and let God worry.”
The hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus sings, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.”
To need peace and in the same breath ask and receive it from the One who is Peace itself, this is the goal. It is a practice of humble coming. It is a practice of confidence in Christ who tirelessly provides me with peace instead of confidence in myself to maintain the good feeling.
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”Jesus, John 14:25-27
I also like these words by Marshall Segal, “The peace God pours out by his Spirit does give us space and freedom to rest, but it also inspires us to live boldly and courageously for him at the front lines of the fiercest battles and in the most challenging circumstances we face. God quiets our souls — and he sets them on fire.” via
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