Monday, January 18, 2016

How (and Why) Does Your Heart Ache for Peace?

            



           A year ago, at the start of 2015, my heart ached for peace. Peace in spite of family strife and disappointment that swirled like a growing hurricane around my husband, our children, and me. While our tight little unit of four banded together, another family member tried to sow seeds of discord and guilt into my heart and drive a wedge between all of us. There was no peace in this person’s heart, and they didn’t want us to have any either.
           
            So, peace and tranquility weighed heavily on my heart and mind, and I went on (needed to go on) a very concerted treasure hunt for them.
           
            Through that hunt, I’ve learned that peace doesn’t just arrive one day and settle in comfortably for a lifetime. It reminds me more of a relative with Attention Deficit Disorder who shows up at your door—at your invitation, of course—settles into the guest bedroom, and then, because of an internal upheaval or distraction, wanders off to leave you alone and frustrated, because they didn’t leave a note telling you where they went or why!
           
            I now know that you have to call peace back and claim it again, because the thief who runs the world doesn’t want you possessing peace or living in it. He has different motives for you. Since he’s come to cheat, steal and destroy, he’s pretty thrilled when the storm settles in, and your world (and mind and heart) are turned upside down, and remain that way. He loves stealing something — like peace — from us and sneaking away with it.
           
            I also learned that if I truly want peace, I needed to deliberately pursue it. And my eyes were also opened to the need for me, (if I really wanted peace to reign in it), to have a simpler, less chaotic life. I realized peace is multi-faceted. And along with that knowledge, I uncovered the gem that freedom would walk hand-in-hand with peace and simplicity, and joy would follow. Always. It would be a package deal.

           
            So, on January 3, 2015, I found myself opening my brand new journal and penning the following prayer:
           
            “This year, Lord, I seek and ask you for peace and simplicity, which both come from 
              freedom in you! I want to stop making decisions driven by guilt, false obligation, a
              need to be needed and to feel important, valued and respected.
           
            “Could I shed it all and find you enough—to satisfy every part of me and my life? My 
            head knows you are truly enough, but am I willing to let you be?
           
            “I want peace, simplicity, freedom. A life void of internal and external chaos, (as much
            as is possible with me); a life full of your peace. The peace that surpasses all understanding.
            That kind of peace.
           
            “I want a life full of simplicity, so I am surrounded by order and beauty and a sense of 
            calm—even in the midst of exhilaration and upheaval. That kind of peace.
           
            “I want freedom; a deep feeling of satisfaction and security in knowing who I am and to
            whom I belong. Knowing your promises and your future, and being confident and content 
            in that knowledge. That kind of peace.
                                                                                                            Amen!”

            
            I knew if I knocked, sought, and asked, the One who is peace itself would give me all of the knowledge and wisdom I needed to pursue peace, and obtain it. The key was that I needed to actually knock, seek and ask! How did I know that if I went searching I would find it? Because God promises to open the door of His inner sanctum of wisdom to those who seek. "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." That's what he told the prophet Jeremiah. Years ago I read that statement and took God at His word. I searched and asked, and searched and asked. And He showed. And He's still showing both you and me. If we ask. 

            So I asked. And to find my answers I knew I'd need two resources. First, I went directly to the source. I snagged my Bible, a treasure chest of priceless jewels of truth, knowledge, and wisdom that are just as relevant today as they were when they were first entrust to mankind to write down. The concordance I used to locate the word “peace” is my treasure map, and the Bible is the treasure, the loot I get to pour into my head and heart, to enrich and change my life. To clothe my heart and life (and others) in its wealth and beauty.
           
            While I know everlasting peace will only be ushered in when Jesus returns with a new heaven and a new earth, I can get a jumpstart on heaven right now. So I opened my treasure map and treasure chest and started plotting my journey and sifting through the jewels. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey to sift through them with me!
           
            To find peace, in all its meanings. To find the kind of peace that changes your life, and probably the lives of those around you, too. To find peace, and learn how to hang onto it and not let it go.

           
            Before you start this journey, though, grab your journal and take a few minutes to pray and think about what areas of your life could really use an infusion of peace right now. Write those down.

Then answer these questions:

1. Do you really want peace in your life, or do you enjoy the chaos and turmoil? (I’m not talking about the excitement of competition or the normal stress of a new job or daily life. Many people, if they are honest with themselves, like to fight their way through life and enjoy living surrounded by chaos and turmoil. Since it’s familiar, losing the familiar scares them.)

2. In what areas of your life would you like to experience more peace?

3. Are there friends or family members who are obstacles right now to you experiencing peace? Why are they obstacles?

4. Are you willing to make necessary changes or sacrifices in your life to have peace? If so, what do you think those changes or sacrifices would be, or look like?

5. Much of the way we communicate with others is learned. So many times we convince ourselves that the other person is the problem, but after an honest self-assessment, we realize that our behavior, words, or tone of voice contribute to the tension, or to their behavior. What ways of communication have your family or friends passed down to you that may make achieving a deep sense of peace (with yourself or in your relationships) difficult?

6. Many times anger toward an event or someone smolders deep in our heart’s recesses. We think we’ve “dealt” with it and let it go, but we really have just let it smolder under decaying ashes, and it’s ready to combust at the smallest puff of oxygen. Do you harbor anger in your heart about something that happened to you, or against someone? Search your heart. Ask God to search it for you and reveal the anger, and its source, to you.


7. Now write a prayer focused on gaining peace. It might be that you do not currently have a personal relationship with God, or His Son Jesus. If not, then that may be where you start: asking God to reveal Himself to you.

            Lack of peace may be a result of your own actions and the way you relate to others. If so, 
            in your prayer, ask God to reveal those negative actions to you so you can focus on them 
            on this peace-attaining journey. 

            
8. Or perhaps your lack of peace is the result of others’ actions. If you are unable to change your circumstances, or avoid those button-pressing people right now, you may want to ask to God to remove those obstacles, or raise a hedge of protection around you so you are protected from them and do not react to them. Later in this study, you will have the skills to not react, or to react in a way that diffuses the internal or external turmoil. Right now, you may just need to have the hedge of protection raised around you so no harm comes to you, and that you bring no harm to anyone else.

            
            After you answer these questions and write the prayer, return to your prayer every day this week to focus your heart and mind on searching for and obtaining peace. It will be a good primer for you to have before we delve into the treasure chest together!

            Next week we’ll starting wrapping our arms around Shalom type of peace.


Until then, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter! Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!

In Christ’s love and peace,

Andrea

When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer

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