5/30/12

Perfect Peace in a Chaotic, Confusing World

I remember a conversation I had on a flight home in the 1970s with a man from Canada. He seemed so tired, and ~ to cue him that I wouldn't be chatty on the flight ~ I said that I hoped he could get some good, sound sleep. I'll never forget his answer.

"Sleep? How can anyone really get good, sound sleep in a world like this?" he said.

"Having a tough time?" I asked, and he shared some of his struggles ~ a plunging marriage, financial burdens, and constant thoughts about "all the things going wrong in the world."

I thought, "Who wouldn't be worried and stressed with a life and perspective like his?" I tried to tell him about the peace Jesus gives, but he wasn't ready to listen.

"Yeah, I've heard all that before," he said, as he turned his head and shut his eyes. He obviously wasn't willing to take the only sure route to peace. He was stubborn and committed to his own troubled path.

I think that was about the time when the scripture, Isaiah 26:3, took hold in my heart. I learned it in the King James Version, but I like it in another version today: "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You." (Amplified Bible)

Perfect, constant peace comes when our mind is fixed and focused on God. That fixed, focused mind aligns with a life that rests with confidence in who God is and what He can do.

God wants to fill up our hearts with Himself, to crowd out our worries about the circumstances of life. And the circumstances of life can get tough!

Jesus said we would face "tribulation" in this world, but he added that we could cheer ourselves up with the promise that He has already overcome the world. We can enjoy true, lasting peace in Christ (John 14:27; 16:33). Our circumstances may not change, but our perspective about them can. Our attitudes can change, because we realize that God is in control and He has purpose in all that touches our lives.

Initially, peace comes from faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord (Romans 5:1) ~ it is peace with God that leads to the peace of God being manifest in our lives.

Peace grows stronger when we practice a life of prayer connection with God (Philippians 4:6-7). Peace is a "proof" that we are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and abiding in the truth of God's Word (Psalm 119:165). It springs from our walk in righteousness (Psalm 37:37).

I was watching a program from the new television series, "Doomsday Preppers," the other day. People are going all out to protect themselves and their families from coming turmoil and threats. Some are building bomb shelters and holes to hide in. Others are stocking small grocery stores in their basements. They are buying gas masks and building gardens in former swimming pools. I've learned a lot of useful information, but some of the preppers' strategies are beyond ridiculous.

As I watched I had two thoughts:

(1) It would probably be wise to make some preparations for difficult days, not as a result of fear, but as an act of good stewardship of the resources and insights God has given me. If the whole world falls apart around me, it might be a good idea to have some basic survival strategies; but I also need to think through how I might help others. Doomsday or not, it's not Christ-like to be selfish.

(2) No matter the crisis that comes ~ financial, war, pestilence, whatever! ~ I do not have to worry. I know the One who holds my future, and I know where I'm going.

In other words, it's entirely possible to have God's perfect peace in this chaotic, confusing world. But we have to receive God's Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and trust in God and His Word before this kind of perfect peace "kicks in" to our spirit.

Don't be like my Canadian flight companion, committed to your struggles and worries. Instead, trust in the Lord with all your heart; don't try to figure things out by yourself. Surrender to His control and guidance, and He will direct you now and in any of the troubling days ahead (Proverbs 3:5-6).

1 comment:

revtrev said...

Thanks for your thoughts Dawn. I think you have the right attitude of preparedness. I was going to watch the show myself...but haven't yet. I think you watched it with the right eyes.