Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Peace of God

I can't help but take a deep breath each time I see this picture. It evokes such feelings of serenity, causing relaxation to sweep over me. Being the visual person I am, I can almost imagine myself physically taking PEACE and wrapping myself in it the way we bundle up for sledding. There's nothing quite as satisfying as that feeling of being enveloped by peace.
Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Thankfully, I've been inexplicably living this out first-hand more often than not lately. Truly, there are some days where I stand back amazed and think, "Okay, who in the world just lived out this day in my skin? Because surely I am not capable of functioning at such a level of simple obedience with my flesh constantly screaming for me to feed it."
God's Word has been my everything. I read it, I do it, ... and the peace settles all over me. He tells me to trust Him so I've got to trust Him. And all of a sudden I am living out Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."
This consciously doing what He tells me has accomplished so much in me! When something doesn't make sense, I do it anyhow, because, well, He tells me to. He loves me and wants the best for me. I'm gonna need to cooperate with Him in order to maximize whatever it is He wants to do in and through me.
So... that means that when someone rudely dismisses me at a function (after I just spent the entire car ride over praying for their important role), I take it to the Lord. I give the hurt to Him, think about how I may have perceived things differently than they really were, continue to pray out of a heart of love, and ask for His strength. My end result ended up being a chance to bless this person in a tangible way - and I was so glad that I had put on the Spirit rather than the flesh. Though we have many differences, I now think of this person with fondness rather than with bitterness. God tells me in Colossians 3:13 to "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."The same verse in the New Living Translation says to make allowances for each other's faults. I love that! We are to make allowances for one another's faults. How freeing! And because the Lord loves to bless obedience, I am the very grateful recipient of a new blanketing of peace each time I choose to do this.
We're into our fifth week of homeschooling. As it turns out, it's one of those years where I did not purchase one book. Some years are more bountiful than others with the schooling budget. It seems that some time during the end of our last school year the Lord kept impressing the truth of Matthew 6:33 on me: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." So, how does that look in my life? Well, for starters, I've got a struggling reader. We've dozens of readers on our bookshelves and a library less than a mile from our home, but I sensed that I needed to trust Him in this area. The new reading curriculum for this particular child is the Bible. Period. We're working through Psalms and the improvement has astounded me. I've another child who struggles to speak the simplest of words. The cure? Praying with him always about everything. How it blesses me to hear him speaking in ways that seemed impossible not so long ago. The simple act of infusing everything we do with the Lord seems like it would be so easy, yet too many times He can be an aterthought as I seek my own kingdom.
We've been volunteering at a local mission on a monthly basis for two years. Circumstances have made it difficult for us to finish out the last few months of our commitment. It takes some doing to fill our spots with helpers each month because things pop up. Life gets in the way and my family is sometimes left to fill in the empty places. Recently, I felt burn-out knocking on the door to my heart. I went to the Lord about it and begged Him to help me finish strong in His strength rather than my own. I knew I could not continue and asked Him to step in and be glorified. I asked that He would help us to be a special blessing on that particular day. He loves it when we pray those kinds of things! As a result, we opted to go the extra mile and make our famous multi-colored cut-out cookies in the shape of a cross. They take a lot of work and we had to bring double the usual amount. Though we used to make them regularly, it had been many, many months since we had last done so. We all chipped in, reasonably cheerfully, and got the job done. I cannot begin to tell you how He blessed us! We had the opportunity to work with two residents who readily shared their testimonies with us. Everyone oohed and aahed over our cookies and the kitchen cook asked for the recipe. We were even invited to stay over to eat lunch. I departed with peace firmly cemented in my heart, the feelings of inadequacy and fatigue having been chased out. Praise God!
I could go on and on with other examples. Like making my husband's favorite meal rather than retaliating when we're butting heads. Or praying all of the time for a one-time close friend who has walked away from our friendship, wounding me deeply. Or thanking God when the temporary employment assignment ends, because surely He loves me and will bring something beautiful out of the pain of it all somehow. The bottom line is: peace can be mine if I rely on God's Word to guide me through each and every action throughout my days. I cannot just read it and not do it.
Father, I fall before you. I am humbled by the way You make yourself known to me and work in my life. You know how the enemy has been on a rampage ever since I first began making the connection between the peace I've been experiencing and consciously doing what You tell me to do in your Word. Strengthen me, your dearly loved daughter, to live simply for You, obeying You more and more. Cause my soul to follow hard after You, Precious Lord. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.