Monday, January 11, 2016

Want Peace? Rest in the Eye of the Storm






Think you ended up on the wrong blog? Don’t worry; you’re in the right place! I thought the New Year warranted a new, simpler look. More changes are planned in the next several weeks. I hope you enjoy them!

           
            In January, I sent you treasure hunting for joy, and for Joy, which came gift-wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in an animal feed trough for all of the world over 2000 years ago. This year we’ll do some more exploring.

            Peace. Illusive, hard-won, shaky, tenuous, much-sought-after peace.
           
            I’m a research and definition nerd, so I’ll start with a definition of the word. Merriam-Webster.com lists five separate meanings for peace. They include:

1. a state of tranquility or quiet: as
            a. freedom from civil disturbance
            b. a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom

2. freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

3. harmony in personal relations

4. a. a state or period of mutual concord between governments.
    b. a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a
            state of enmity.

5. [Or] Used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell.

            And there’s also “at peace, being in a state of concord or tranquility.”
           
            The world certainly doesn’t seem to be at peace right now, does it? Countries are flexing muscles, saber rattling, testing humanity-leveling weapons, verbally threatening, bullying, and committing atrocious acts of aggression and oppression, against their own citizens. Others are trying to carve out new countries from existing nations, annihilating all who stand contrary to their version of national or religious utopia. In hordes, people are fleeing persecution and unlivable conditions. Lying, cheating, and stealing are commonplace, and being justified if the end result favors them and their fans. Arrogance, ignorance, and self-righteousness reign in the people's hearts and seem to be ruling the day. Hate, anger and vitriolic discourse fill the news, airwaves and social media. More and more, men and women are doing what seems right in their own eyes.
           
            Right now peace seems to be a much-need commodity.


            How do you achieve any kind of personal peace when your world is swirling like a hurricane, gathering speed and destructive energy?
           
            Seriously. How do you make that seemingly impossible goal happen?
           
            Stand in the eye. That’s the first thing you want to do, if you can. Get out of the hurricane and stand in the eye, the calmest, most peaceful part of the storm. Yes, right in the middle.
           
            The eye of a hurricane, (or cyclone, depending upon what part of the world you live in), is usually characterized by its light winds and clear skies, even though it’s surrounded by a ring of towering, destructive thunderstorm clouds, which is known as the “stadium effect”. If you didn’t know those gorgeous, alluring white clouds could kill you, you might be tempted to wander into them. So long peace and tranquility!
           
            But what if you have to venture into those clouds or are already in them, with no apparent means of escape? In that chaotic situation, how do you maintain an internal sense of calm and tranquility in your heart, mind, and soul?
           
            Short answer? You get to know—intimately—and make a habit of following the originator and perfector of peace. You learn by example and follow solid, wise advice.      
           
            And where do you find that advice, that Originator? (I think you know where I’m going with this.)
           
            You go directly to the source. The Prince of Peace. Ask Him. He’s more than happy to divulge the secrets and help you remove the hard, heavy yoke of turmoil and chaos that bind your heart, mind and soul.
           
            Evidently God thought peace was a pretty important issue we were going to have a lot of problem obtaining and sustaining because He mentions it a lot in His word. Depending upon which Bible translation you use, you’ll find it 375-415 times in the Bible. It’s mentioned more than money, war and love. (Being mentioned more than love was a surprise to me.)
           
            Peace. Illusive peace. He knew we desperately needed it, and He knew we’d constantly battle ourselves and each other to have it; that we’d contest against others to keep them from stealing it from us. We’d blame others for our own fault of letting it go.            
            
           Peace. It’s a precious commodity. And it’s worth pursuing.
           
            One thing we need to keep in mind, though is: This isn’t heaven down here. As I heard a wise man say during a sermon years ago: “This isn’t the Garden of Eden. We lost that, and we have to stop trying to get it back.”
           
            What this is down here is a place for us to learn about God, draw near to Him, introduce others to Him, and run the race for the ultimate prize of a bejeweled crown in a perfect Heaven. Down here, we’re just getting a taste of that, but as the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthian believers: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Loose translation: We have no idea what Heaven is like, and we really can't even imagine it.
           
            It may not be Heaven here, but it can be heaven-like. We can open Heaven’s door, peer in a little, and start experiencing some of its blessings and pleasures down here, but we’re never going to get back to the Garden, as songwriter Joni Mitchell said we’ve got to do in her famous song “Woodstock”. (And many of us who survived the 60s in the United States know what glorious, “free” things happened there!)
           
            It all comes down to what A.W. Tozer said: “When the eyes of the soul looking
out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth.”
           
            Heaven has begun, not arrived. But while we cannot have the same Garden Adam and Eve had, we can experience some of the intimacy they shared with God.

            I know a lot of people live in fear of the future. They have no peace. They live in a tumultuous, toxic home. Chaos reigns in their lives. They and their family are without peace. To them, hell couldn’t be any worse than life right here on Earth.
           
            But you don’t have to let peace be illusive to you.

           
            Do you want to build a little more heaven down here on Earth, for you and everyone around you? Then join me as we embark on an exciting exploration of the different types of peace referenced in Scripture, and learn how to possess, practice and pass on peace to others. Learn what Jesus meant when He said, “Peace I leave; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

           
            If you journal, (which I highly recommend), grab a new one and join me every Monday as we do more treasure hunting through Scripture to pursue the precious commodity of peace.
           
            I promise it will challenge, inspire, and transform all of us!



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

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24354425@N03/15128998278">A Hurricane and its Eye</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>