I’m not a “Vague-Booker,” but some things that take up a lot of our attention aren’t meant for open sharing while you’re going through them.
If you’re in that place: I feel you. You’re not alone.
Since the start of this year, lots of things in our family have felt uncertain – more shaky than anything we’ve experienced before if we’re super honest. Everyone’s healthy, we’re united, we’re not physically falling apart… and yet, things that felt solid just a few months prior to this period are suddenly not.
When the shakiness sets in – something we’ve all experienced, and you may even be experiencing right now – it’s super easy to turn to what feels like the most natural reaction. For me, that’s fear. For my husband, it’s frustration and a frozen sense of forward motion. Sometimes it’s something else, but those tend to be our “go-to’s.”
And yet – we’re called to something different.
We’re told in the Bible that we’re not meant to be creatures of fear, of frustration, or frozen motion.
We’re meant to move forward in peace (God’s peace that’s beyond anything we can produce on our own). We’re to be bold and courageous. We’re supposed to love those who feel like they’re working against us.
But sometimes those feel like two opposites that just can’t be reconciled, especially when we’ve really dug ourselves into our standard responses.
The cycle is hard. There’s grief. There’s anger. There’s uncertainty. It’s hard to feel “stuck.”
There’s Good News Here:
The Bible tells us we’re not supposed to be stuck, and that we’re supposed to ask God for his peace that passes understanding because it’s possible.
If there wasn’t peace to be found in storms, we wouldn’t be told to seek it. God isn’t in the business of dangling empty promises in front of us. If it’s promised, it’s possible.
When I dive into my fear response, I lean heavily on this. And the more I lean in, the more I surrender, the more I see glimpses of this peace. When the fear sets in, I’m leaning on the wrong things and I’ve taken it back on myself.
Philippians 4 tells us:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s in a rough spot while writing this, maybe rougher than any storms most of us have experienced. And yet, he’s telling the early church – and us today – that there’s a peace out there that will guard our hearts… not just make us feel calm when we’re on edge. A supernatural, heart-guarding, safe-no-matter-what-the-world-throws-our-way peace.
What Do We Do With That?
So how do we make the jump?
How do we shift from “everything is crumbling,” to “God is in control, I’m at peace because he has my heart.”
There’s a secret: we can’t fill the gap on our own.
The world tells us that we can do anything we set our minds to, right? I read one writer who bought a bottle of champagne and wrote her life goal on it. When she achieved that goal (which she did), she believed that her vision of this goal manifested it into creation. We’re raised to live in a mentality where if we believe it, we can achieve it. (Do you see the number of “we’s” in this pattern?).
The Bible tells us that God’s peace is available. But, it’s not of this world, so, the instruction isn’t of this world. It’s not a “work really hard and he’ll give you the peace you seek,” sort of message.
It’s an “only God,” message. And for those of us who’ve been taught we can do whatever we want if we just work a little harder, it’s a hard one to comprehend… because in this mindset, we can’t.
We have to stop looking at ourselves… we have to stop trying. We have to change our focus to look at God, we have to lean in on his promises, and we have to give it up.
Giving Up Is Hard
It’s SO hard. The idea of “giving up” to “win” just doesn’t work in our heads. Not without faith. Not without practice. Not without holding onto (and therefore knowing and spending time in) scripture.
And yet, like so many other aspects of our faith, it’s the only way.
If we want the peace that God promises us, peace that we could never comprehend if we tried, we’ve got to give it up to him. We have to be honest before the God who created us and knows every part of us – including what’s a part of his ultimate plan for our lives – and we have to surrender the reactions we hold onto (whether they’re anger, fear, avoidance, or something else) to him.
Think of it as the ultimate trust fall, only, the God who sent his son to die in our place – the only truly stead thing in the whole universe – is the one waiting to catch us if we’re willing to fall into his arms.
This isn’t just imagery meant to “numb” us to the hard things around us. It’s not a promise that things will get easy or that we’ll prosper if we give it to him. The promise is peace in life’s storms. I’m not sure there’s much more we can ask for.
But When It Comes… It’s So Good!
Guys: if we’re promised it. If we’re willing to give it up. If we’re able to look up instead of around… the peace is real.
If you’re in a hard place today, I’m sorry.
If things are shaky and you don’t know what God has planned for your heart and your life: I feel you. But more importantly, he feels you.
You are known. You are loved. You are created for a purpose.
You aren’t meant to live in fear. You aren’t meant to live in anger.
You are called to live in peace and the freedom that it brings.
Can you surrender the hard to God, today? In our family, this is a many-times-a-day sort of thing, some times more than others. And yet, the promise – and the reality – is too good not to.
Can you look up to him today? Can you ask for his peace? Take the time to get before him, today. Then, do it again and again. Let’s rejoice in this promise and move forward in confidence. The prize (peace) is too big not to race wholeheartedly toward.