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 14:21 NIV
Most of us when we think of peace usually imagine a calm tranquil environment with no negatives to spoil our peace. However the kind of peace that Jesus was talking about was very different. True peace comes from having a quiet confidence in God that strengthens you in times of adversity and uncertainty. Peace like joy is not something that is going to happen automatically in our lives. Often we find that actually we will have to fight for it in the same way that some of us fight to lose weight for example or get that all exclusive sale item down the Mall. Joking aside when you think about it! Unless you are extremely lucky you will have moments of relative peace and moments in which you feel like youíre approaching the end of your tether. So how do we maintain the peace that Jesus is taking about when there are so many things in our lives competing against us maintaining our peace?
Well for starters, we need to re-program our minds away from the idea that to experience peace we need to be
a) Living in a monastery type environment
b) Catching a plane to a undisclosed location with sun, sea and sand.
I would love for Jesus to have made a personal statement to that affect just for us ladies but sadly thatís not what he really meant. The peace that Jesus spoke of is far deeper and so much more challenging to achieve and maintain. The fact of the matter is when things are not going according to plan; we need to strengthen the areas of our lives where we feel most vulnerable. We need to take hold of the promises that Jesus made to us and lean on his understanding not our own. True peace is as Paul stated in Phil: 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Fear, anxiety, lack of self-confidence and trust is another enemy of peace. Without mastery of these emotions we find ourselves wandering around and around the same or different issues in different formats with the same negative results. Therefore it is really important for us to accept the fact that true peace may sometimes mean standing in difficult places, situations and people rather than say in a rose garden which I think you will agree unless of course one has allergies as I do upon occasion is far more preferable. On a more serious note, true peace comes with casting all our issues and trust on to the shoulders of Jesus. In Matthew 11:28-30 we are encouraged to lay all our burdens at Christís feet. To take on all of these cares on to our own shoulders trying desperately to fix it by ourselves simply robs us of our peace. We need to re-programme our minds to allow Jesus to mould us, guide us and take us to a place of contentment even though the situations we face daily may be far from peaceful. When Jesus found himself a sleep in a boat and the storm was raging all around him. Picture the scene! No life jackets, no cell phones, no SOS or men dressed in red, or orange, emergency rescue suits hanging out rope ladders from a helicopter to save them. Just twelve or so guys terrified and yet we read that Jesus sleeping soundly. Why??? We can only conclude that he had learned to put all his trust, his hope, his life in his Fatherís hands. This is seriously radical, scary and challenging stuff and not something we are always going to get right every time. That kind of peace takes work and commitment and difficult to maintain of even obtain. Thank God we have Jesus by our side every minute of the day advocating and praying for us.
So what are we left with? Whatever peace looks like to you whether itís finding a quiet place, watching the sun go down, peace is something we all want and need. In a world that is fallen it is always going to be something that can only really be truly obtained through continued trust and fellowship with Christ. So let us lay down all our burdens at the foot of the cross accept who we are in Christ and let Jesus lift us on to his shoulders so that we can experience peace and confidence in all situations that we encounter in life.
Author of the book finding God in a storm and images in scripture available on amazon uk and amazon worldwide