My mind has been swinging wildly lately. A couple of weeks ago I decided to spend the next few years of my life in college. Then I decided my focus was wrong and switched to missions training in Asia. Then I gave that up in favor of spending a year in Deer Lake, my favorite reserve in the Canadian bush, with a book to follow.
All these changes–and I was dead serious about every one of them–in only a matter days. And those are only the tip of possibility! Iraq. Writing career. First Nations. Literature classes. Marriage, if I happen to meet someone. Nurse’s aide. Teacher. Finishing that abandoned novel.
Am I too old for this?
I say this lightheartedly, as though it is a joke, but in all honesty, the past few months have been a time of confusion and anxiety. I have struggled with disappointment at dreams that didn’t turn out quite the way I planned, with feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, with a sense of being without any definite purpose.
I swing wildly from one plan to the next because I love to dream, and that part is fun; but also because I really don’t know what God wants from me or what I should do with my life. And that part is not so fun.
Maybe it’s because I’m not married and have no one to answer to, no one really to take care of but myself. I love the freedom that brings–yes I COULD spend a year in the bush or my whole life traveling, meeting people, collecting stories–but I miss the solidity and sure purpose that comes with being responsible to someone.
I’ve been feeling distant from God lately too, probably because of my worry and crazy spinning and the wrong focus I’ve cultivated. But I’ve been praying that He will draw me close and bring me peace again, and He has, in places. I’m stepping toward Him, learning a few things as I go. For one, not to lie in bed in the mornings thinking and worrying. Bad, bad idea. For two, go ahead and have your morning devotions already. You NEED that connection with God.
This week’s Sunday morning message came straight from God’s lips to my ears–with my brother-in-law Kirby Zimmerman as translator. A shout out to Kirby for his practical and straightforward sermons–so many of them have helped me tremendously, because they’re things I can go right home and put to practice.
This Sunday, he talked about peace.
Here are a few of the points he gave. Maybe they will help you, too.
The Bible word for peace is shalom, which carries the sense of living well, to be in a state of well being and completeness, to have harmony between two parties. It is possible to have peace in the midst of turmoil, while an absence of violence and turmoil does not guarantee peace.
Kirby defined peace as: To acknowledge and accept God is in control and have a clear relationship with God.
Peace is the message of the gospel. When the angels announced Jesus’ birth, this was their message: peace. Without peace, there is no gospel.
We are born, in a sense, as enemies of God, and Jesus is the only way to peace with him. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
His peace is an established fact that isn’t based on how we feel. Jesus accomplished peace with God for us on the cross, and just because we don’t always feel peaceful does not mean we don’t have the gospel of peace. It is sin which blocks us from God, not our feelings.
But peace of heart is also important, and God declares over and over again that it is available to us. “Be anxious about nothing,” he says. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Colossians 3:15 tells us to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts….”
The peace is there. It’s up to us.
3 tips to gain peace of heart:
- Know who is in control. Me wanting to be in control is the greatest destroyer of peace. Human tendency is to struggle for control, but the simple truth is I am not. Like a passenger on an airplane, I have no choice but to trust the pilot. The sooner I figure out that God is in control and leave the plane in his hands, the sooner I will be at peace.
- Watch your focus. When I don’t feel peaceful, it is often because I am focusing on the wrong things. Focus on God, on Jesus, on what is good and what is unchanging. Focus on the present. Someone said, “Anxiety and turmoil seldom rely on present circumstances. Anxiety is usually caused by trouble borrowed either from the past or the future.” Jesus said that every day has enough trouble of its own.
- Examine your life. If I find myself lacking peace, maybe it is because of sin. Maybe there is a corner of my heart that isn’t cleared with God. If my relationship with the one who is in control isn’t clear, that destroys peace.
Peace is a powerful witness in today’s world. Our world doesn’t know peace. Even most professing Christians don’t know peace–you can see that in their lives.
Maybe Satan tries first to steal our peace because he knows that a Christian without peace is at a loss, ineffective. Maybe, if he is trying to destroy your peace, it is because he sees something good is happening and he want to stop it.
If we establish in our minds that God is in control, we can have a peace that will be visible to everyone.
Said the robin to the sparrow, “I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin, “Why I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.”