Recently, I listened on my cell phone to one of my grown daughters talk and tear up as she shared her heart regarding a trial she's been enduring for quite some time. Satan has used this extra-lengthy season of repetitive disappointment and needed perseverance to discourage and defeat her, time and again.
However, in the past several weeks she's found herself mentally rising above her seemingly never-ending reality and stepping into a new place of spiritual victory. In spite of her perpetual let-downs, in spite of her weariness of it all, the Enemy's lies are not wreaking havoc on her mind. Rather, instead of worry and woe, she's experiencing worship. Instead of letting realities define and defeat her, she's experiencing calmness and contentment because of her identity in Christ. Instead of fixating on the problem, she's experiencing "peace that passes understanding," which only a relationship with Jesus and resting in the truths of God's Word can produce.
As I was driving to work listening to this precious daughter share her heart, knowing all she's had to push through over the past couple years, my mother's heart was rejoicing because in spite of the testing she's endured in this extended season of waiting—which her always-good Heavenly Father has allowed—hearing her words usher forth, I knew she'd already reached a place of achievement and victory, regardless of the present what is or future come what mays.
As children of the Most High, our Father is always about our spiritual growth and overall good. No matter the season of life we're in, He uses our earthly problems and pain for spiritual progress, if we'll permit Him. One major area in which He wants us to develop and mature His children is the area of peace maintenance. Remaining restful in mind and calm in spirit, even in the midst of hard realities that greatly tempt otherwise.
This possessing peace "in the midst of ," stems from what is foundational to our Christianity, and that is faith. Faith in the existence of the Creator. Faith that He holds the entire world in His hands, including your life and mine. Faith that He wastes nothing. Faith that He's able to redeem even the worst of the worst circumstances. Faith that He sent His Only Son to pay the highest ransom for a lost humanity. Faith that the sacrifice of His Son, the Prince of Peace, purchased humanity's pardon on Calvary's cross. Faith that His resurrection from the tomb makes it possible for you, makes it possible for me, to live a victorious, peace-filled existence.
All these glorious realities make peace attainable in a world that's ravaged by Satan and sin and robbed of peace. Unquestionably, God did His part. But to achieve peace "in the midst of ," you and I must do our part too.
It begins with the gift of salvation, choosing to trust in Jesus as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin, ushering in His indwelling Spirit.
Apart from the Savior, authentic peace can't be known.
But just because the Prince of Peace has purchased my pardon does not mean that His peace is automatically activated in my day to day life. While I do have perpetual access to the "peace that passes understanding," living it out takes my ongoing surrender to the authority of the Word and the voice of the Spirit.
Right now I'm thinking of a beautiful peace lily that sits in the corner of my dining room. I purchased it from Sam's this past summer since I had been wanting something to put inside a rather large copper container I had found at an antique store some time prior. When I placed the lily inside the container, I was so satisfied with the overall look.
However, over time, my peace lily became droopy. Leaves, once full and vibrant, looked unhealthy, as though life had been sucked out of them. Still green were the leaves, and some blooms (now turning brownish in color) were still present, yet it was evident my lily was not living its best existence.
And my negligence was to blame.
If my dear daddy were still living, being all too familiar with the oft' laxness of my "green thumb" (though I must say that over the past several years I've improved tremendously in this area, thank you very much!), he would have said the thing he so often said when he visited my home and observed the condition of my plants: "Well, Sherry, that's what happens when you don't water them." And in his playfully provoking manner, so very typical of him, it would have been said as if to communicate, "It's not rocket science, honey."
As with all my other plants, receiving water—life-giving, sustaining water—is foundational for the welfare of my beautiful lily named peace. And as its primary caretaker, I cannot be negligent about its need of water, and expect it to thrive. It just doesn't work that way.
(I'm sure you know where I'm metaphorically heading with this.)
Jesus, God's Son sent to Earth, is the Living Water that gives me true life. Because I've trusted in Him as my Savior, he is my Peace Provider in a world with no true peace.
The Spirit of Jesus, the Companion, Comforter and Guide that dwells within me, is my Peace Promoter. As I intentionally listen for His voice, as I welcome His say-so and not shun it, He advocates a heavenly perspective of my realities, promoting peace that hushes the unruly noise within.
The Bible, God's Holy Word, is my Peace Preserver. As I make Scripture's daily intake an utmost priority, it safeguards, nourishes, and sustains me. The Word exposes the doubts and fears that tempt my mind, and it redirects me to the everlasting hope that's mine. As I meditate on its life-giving words, giving it full access to my head and heart, the Word fuels me, so that when hardship and heartbreak hit, spiritual fervor is sustained and hope remains.
Jesus, the Spirit, and the Word work in perfect tandem so that peace can be mine. Yet, in order to make peace my reality, I must fully participate in the workings of each.
When peace is lacking in my life, when I'm not living my best internal existence because the clamoring noise within is wreaking havoc, my less than ideal, clamorous circumstances are not to blame. I am. As with the oversight of my peace lily, my peace must be cared for and cultivated by me. Don't misunderstand. Caring for and cultivating peace are not the same as provision. I don't provide my own peace. Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, arrived on the scene of this sin-soaked, fractured planet and then died a sinner's death to provide my peace.
Because of Him, and only Him, peace is mine. Every moment. Of every day. In every season.
However, I must make daily, deliberate choices to live by faith—determining to believe His true words and yield to His abiding Spirit, even "in the midst of "—in order to activate the provision of peace. In doing this, I'm living my life as Jesus lived His: in oneness with my Heavenly Father, in moment by moment, day by day, abandoned trust and active obedience.
In this, my Father is pleased.
In this, His unexplainable, undeniable peace permeates my being.
Even when life and circumstances say it shouldn't be so.