Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Peace That Passes Understanding...And Worry

I'm in Week 2 of Beth Moore's Breaking Free. She writes of the benefits of a life with God. The benefits are: 1) to know God and believe Him, 2) to glorify God, 3) to find satisfaction in God, 4) to experience God's peace, and 5) to enjoy God's presence. While all of them individually are extremely important and fulfilling, I found the study of the fourth, to experience God's peace, to be the most interesting.

To begin with, Beth says that, "His peace should not be an infrequent surprise but the ongoing rule of our lives." So often I catch myself only relying on God to help me when I am experiencing a rocky place in my life. It is easy (or so I think) to carry myself along when life is all hunky-dory, but when a storm comes I immediately cling to Him. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, "Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you."

"...Let God write this priciple on your heart forever: The key to peace is authority. When we allow the Prince of Peace to govern our lives, peace either immediately or ultimately results. Peace accompanies authority."

If you know me well at all, you know that I am, by nature, a worrier. I worry about everything. And if I don't have something to worry about, I create something. I can't stand it and it eats me up inside, but it is my personality and I come by it very honestly. One point in my life when I can honestly say I was not eaten up with worry was when I was pregnant. Amazingly, I did not spend a lot of time focusing on the "what ifs." Now is a totally different story. I probably check on James three times before I finally go to sleep at night just to make sure he's still sleeping. In fact, at times I wake him up (accidentally) while doing my checking. However, the pregnancy was a totally different story. Maybe part of it was that we waited so long to tell about our pregnancy. Maybe another part of it was the fact that I was in complete denial I was even pregnant the first 8 weeks. (Eddie laughed about the fact that I took 3 pregnancy tests - 2 the day we found out and 1 the day of my 8-week appointment "just in case I was wrong.") I had lots and lots of conversations with God about the little boy I was carrying. I am well aware that he is God's child and he is on loan to us. We have not written his story. His creator knows every breath he takes and He knows exactly what path James will take in His life. During my pregnancy, I was (almost) completely free from worry. I bathed in the peace that accompanies authority.

"Peace comes in situations completely surrendered to the sovereign authority of Christ. Somestimes when we finally give up trying to discover all the answers to the 'why's' in our lives and decide to trust a sovereign God, unexpected peace washes over us like a summer rain. We sometimes lack peace in far less strenuous circumstances because we are not as desperate or likely to turn them over to God."

Read that last sentence again. Are you like me? Is it easy to hand control over to God when you know that something is out of your hands? I knew so little about being pregnant that I easily handed the reigns to God and said "Your will be done." End of story. Notice that I did not say that I have had peace since James has been born. I can see James now. I can see his stomach rising and falling with each breath. I know how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. I can see an emergency if it happens. While I was pregnant I couldn't rely on myself. It was so much easier to hand over that worry than it is now.

But I want peace at all times and in every way.

"You can have the peace of Christ, believer, no matter what your circumstances; but you must believe, bend the knee, and learn how to receive....bending the knee is ultimately a matter of pure obedience.

"You may never feel like giving your circumstance, hurt, or loss to Him; but you can choose to submit to His authority out of belief and obedience rather than emotion. Obedience is the mark of authentic surrender to God's authority in any matter.

Isaiah 48:18 says, "This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.'"

Beth's description of a peaceful person is striking to me: "A river is a moving stream of water. God's Word doesn't say we'll have peace like a pond. Some imagine peaceful people as boring and a breath away from death. We think we'd rather forego peace and have an exciting life. Beloved, few bodies of water are more exciting than rivers! When was the last time you saw white-water rapids? We can have active, exciting lives without suffering through a life of turmoil.

"When God used the analogy of a river, He described a peace that can be retained while life twists, turns, and rolls over boulders....To have peace like a river is to have security and tranquility of heart and mind while meeting many bumps and unexpected turns on life's journey through change. Peace is submission to a trustworthy Authority, not resignation from all activity. Remember, however, any activity that cannot be brought under the umbrella of God's authority will prove to be a source of turmoil and exhaustion.

"A river is a body of water fed by springs or tributary streams. I've found that I can't retain a spirit of peace in the present by relying on a relationship from the past. Peace comes from an active, ongoing, and obedient relationship with the Prince of Peace. He wants to feed us with the Living Water of His Holy Spirit and steady stream of His Word until we have peace life a river. This and other Bible studies are examples of ways God desires to feed a peaceful river in your soul.

"A river begins and ends with a body of water. Every river has an upland source and an ultimate outlet or mouth. Rivers are fully dependent and are always connected to other bodies of water. Likewise, peace like a river flows from a continuous connection with the upland Source, Jesus Christ, and a timely reminder that this life will ultimately spill into a glorious eternal life. This life is not our destination, hallelujah! We who know Christ personally move continually over rocks and sometimes cliffs, through narrow places and wide valleys to a heavenly destination. Until then, abiding in Christ is the key to staying deliberately connected with our upland Source."

Wow. I know that seems like a lot to take in, but I assure you that it is not half of what I'm learning through this study. And I'm only in Week Three! I am learning so much about the life I'm supposed to be living. The life God wants me to be living! I can't wait to learn more.

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