I can’t think of a better time than now to seek after the peace of God. I sit writing this post at my dining table surrounded by my two children who are now doing school work from home as we begin day one of a four-week lockdown due to Covid-19. A position I never would have imagined being in.
I am a person of faith and I believe in a God who through His presence, brings peace in any circumstance. But even for me, this season has brought with it anxiety and worry. I have popped out to The Warehouse a couple of times over the last few days to buy a few supplies to keep the kids entertained and I must admit, the masks, gloves, store restrictions, and people dodging had me wanting to run home, douse myself in hand sanitiser and never leave the house again!!!
My youngest son will sometimes come into our room saying that he’s afraid because he heard a noise, saw a shadow or had a bad dream. As parents we go in and we adjust all the things to make a more comfortable and peaceful environment for our little one don’t we? We open the door, or close the door. We put a night-light on. We show them inside the cupboard, out the window, under the bed – to let them know there are no monsters there. We show them and remind them of where Mummy and Daddy are just in case they need us. And if you are my husband, you show them the baseball bat that we have under the bed!!!
Can you remember being afraid of monsters under the bed? Convinced that something was under there? Remember how that conviction changed the way you got into your bed? You would switch off your light and then run and leap as far from the bed as you could so you were at no risk of being caught as you climbed in. And while you lie in bed, you don’t dare let a limb dangle free – because of course you might be grabbed at an opportune moment.
As kids, we would adjust how we did things in order to accommodate the monsters under the bed and in the closet.
I think we have never grown out of this habit as adults. I think that too often we adjust our living to accommodate our fears. We are panic buying food, stockpiling toilet paper, isolating ourselves beyond just physical isolation.
What we need is not an accommodation of fear but an invitation of peace.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)
1. PEACE IS AN ANCHOR.
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. Matthew 8:23-24 (NLT)
There are going to be seasons in your life when a suddenly will come – it’s going to hit you out of no where, it’s going to feel like a storm. It wont be what you ordered and it certainly isn’t what you prayed for, but it’s coming all the same.
But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Matthew 8: 24 – 25 (NLT)
It’s a frustrating moment when you know you have the creator of the earth and seas on your side, and yet it seems like he’s sleeping through your storm. Like, does he even care? Does he even notice?
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8: 26 – 27 (NLT)
I think we could all be honest today and say that as wives, we often complain about our husbands don’t we? (Or maybe I’m the only imperfect wife?) We want the big gestures, the flowers, the chocolates, the poetry. We are so fixated on those things that we fail to see all of the little ways that he actually shows he cares – helping with the kids, doing the dishes, hanging the washing, taking the kids out to give you five minutes of alone time.
Often when we are in a storm, what we want from Jesus is the big gesture. We want the grand response. We want the over-the-top miracle, the immediate answer. We want another ‘suddenly‘ to match the sudden storm that came our way. But more often what he actually gives us is peace in the storm.
His peace acts as our anchor that stops drift. Peace is the anchor that keeps us grounded.
Let me explain it this way: God has set you on a path. Jesus and the disciples were on the boat and they were going somewhere. God has you going somewhere. Storms will come, and a storm has the capacity and tendency to throw you off course and prevent you from getting to where God sent you out toward in the first place. But the peace of Christ turns up like an anchor. It is that peace that will keep you steadfast and immovable. It will ground you and prevent you from drifting from the plans God has for you.
On the other side of that storm was a town who needed Jesus. When they got to the other side two demon possessed men were healed and they went on to tell everyone about it.
On the other side of your storm is a God-ordained purpose and calling – let the peace of God ground you so you don’t miss it!
2. PEACE IS A COMPASS.
I have a terrible sense of direction. You know how there are some people who can follow their nose? Well my nose is broke! So, I don’t care what anyone says, I thank Jesus every day for GPS and Google Maps! Because for a person who struggles to get to where they know they need to be, anything that directs them is going to provide an enormous amount of peace.
When it comes to setting direction in our lives and moving toward the path God has for us, peace is one of the most common ways that God speaks to us.
Peace guides us, directs us, and so often confirms God’s purposes for us.
I can think of so many occasions in my life when I experienced the peace of God when it came to decision making. In situations when it should have felt big, overwhelming and out of my league. In times when I should have felt fearful, worried and anxious. I didn’t have any of those feelings, I simply had peace and because I had peace I knew I had made the right decision.
So often the answer to your question, “Should I?” or “Shouldn’t I?” is found in the absence or presence of peace.
3. PEACE IS A REFUGE.
I think you may have read about my husband, Steve, walking the 100km Oxfam walk before. Well, along the way there were refuge stations. Planned pit stops. At every stop they had a support crew, who knew them, had food and supplies for them. They had a seat for them, clean socks for them, new shoes for them, warm, dry clothes for them.
These stops became invaluable along the way, because there were moments on this 100km walk where they were walking in the pitch black, there were moments when they were walking in the dead of the night. There were moments when they were walking through forest, trudging through water and up mountains. It was gruelling and painful and anything but peaceful.
In moments like that when they were hungry, thirsty, tired and in pain, the thought of someone who cared about them waiting at a stop with a seat and food and new socks was what literally kept them going. Their peace was in the knowledge that there was a refuge for them just around the next corner.
So often, when we are in a storm in life, our tendency is to give up rather then head for the refuge. And the peace that God has for you is a place of refuge. In his peace you can stop and take a breath. You can sit and wait a while. It is in his peace where you can feel shade from the sun, shelter from the wind and water in the dry land.
When my oldest son Judah was one year old he was rushed into the Intensive Care Unit of Starship Children’s Hospital with a condition that was very rare. It was an abnormality in his bowel that presented itself with a large and sudden bleed. He lost a lot of blood and had to undergo an emergency blood transfusion and surgery to remove the abnormality. He recovered quickly and completely but I have to admit, it was a week I will never forget.
So many people said to me then (and now), “Wow, that must have been terrifying?” I can remember having to think about my answer because the obvious answer should have been “yes it was, it was petrifying”, but that wasn’t my experience – because even in the terrifying, all I felt was peace.
I don’t know what is happening in your world right now, and I don’t know what the obvious emotional response “should” be, whether it’s fear, worry, pain, grief, panic, anxiety, confusion, disappointment, I don’t know – but can I remind you that God has got a peace for you that surpasses all human understanding. In other words, when the world is telling you that you should worry, you can instead have peace. When the world is telling you you should be afraid, you can instead have peace. When the world is telling you you should panic and be fearful…instead God has a peace that will anchor you, guide you and be a refuge for you.
My prayer for you during this season is that you would experience an overwhelming sense of peace.
Now, stay at home – but live like you believe it!