Lately I’ve longed for peace. I find myself drawn to people and places that make me feel peaceful and relaxed. We live in such a hectic, go as fast as you can culture there’s never enough time to sit and, well, do nothing else but sit. I am just as guilty as the next person about over scheduling my day. Not too long ago I found myself with so many things on the calendar that I just wanted to run and hide. Not because I didn’t want to be a part of all that was going on, but because I knew it shouldn’t all be in one day. But, by God’s grace in spite of my sense, I made it through only to fall into bed and wake up to a similar schedule the next day. Rest eludes me. I used to feel that you better be busy because, after all, you only live once and life would be better lived if there was a lot crammed into it. I question my own philosophy more and more lately. All this busyness feels tiring and like nothing is ever really enjoyed, just sort of endured in order to make it to the next thing on time. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day about finding peace. I told them that I think I might move to the Dakota’s. Yes, I said the Dakota’s. North or South, I don’t care, I just think the wide open spaces would be a welcomed change from the cluttered life I’ve established for myself. There can’t be very many people living in the Dakota’s, can there? So, I imagine myself walking the open fields, exploring the landscape, working a ranch or something. Maybe I’ll even have a llama, do they have those up there? Wait, I just remembered they spit on you, maybe an alpaca. Whatever, something different. During the course of this conversation the question was asked, “Why do you need to move to an open place to feel peace, do you think peace only lives in Dakota?” well…. Of course, I don’t think that, but it sure is tempting.
I really do understand that peace comes from within, you can’t go across the country and suddenly find it. But that is how it feels so many days, like it is just out of my reach. I hear pastor’s talk of peace, people give testimonies about finding peace. I have walked through times where God’s peace felt like a warm blanket wrapped around me. So why do I want to move to South Dakota? I’ve pondered this lately, I’m not sure I have the complete answer, but I am beginning to understand the idea of rest and its relation to peace. Not the laying down and falling asleep kind of rest, but a rest of the soul. There have been windows of time that I have felt this rest, been able to maintain it even. But, after a while I find myself anxious and out of sorts and worried. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s like a slow fading away until one day I wake up and notice, I’ve lost my peace. What happens to it, where does it go?
I have been a Christian for most of my life, I understand that peace comes from the Lord, but I also understand that without a conscious effort to hold onto peace, it will and does slip away. Not my faith, nor my relationship with the Lord, but my peace. Of course, there are those times that our peace is gone because we have done something that we need to confess and ask forgiveness for, I am not talking about this absence of peace. I’m talking about the absence of peace that comes from lack of rest. Both physical and spiritual. It’s a real thing, trust me.
I don’t believe for one minute that the Lord would be pleased with me moving to a remote area and somehow trying to find what he readily offers right where I am. Even though the Dakota’s might be tempting, I know it would only be an escape and that is not what God is all about. He requires me to walk through the circumstances, experiences, and scheduling that I call my life. He wants me to learn. Sometimes I hear folks talk about how they are learning another lesson from the Lord and they smile and seem so happy about it. Ya know, it just doesn’t always work that way for me. So many times when I look at my life, I look up at the Lord and say, “seriously? I know you can fix this for me, you could just speak and all of this hardship, both self-inflicted and not, would just be gone.” Poof! And I’m off the hook. But, that is not how He chooses to work. He says things like, “Trust me,” and “don’t be afraid,” and “hang in there, keep your eyes on Me.” And, so I put on my walking shoes and lean into Him and on we go. Lesson after lesson, pain, sorrow, joy, more lessons, life is so amazing. I’ve learned so much, and grown so much in Him. With every life lesson has come a new level of peace. It takes time and effort, and trust. Peace is cultivated and developed, a training of our mind to think differently than what we are used to. For me it takes learning Bible verses, singing praise songs, talking to him constantly. But I’ve discovered there’s something more.
Recently, the Lord has opened my eyes to something that steals my peace. I was so comfortable in it, so used to feeling it, that I nearly missed it. What is it, you ask? Control. I like control. There, I said it. I like the feeling of things being manageable, controllable and orderly. Can you think of anything about life that fits into that definition? Me either. Giving over the controls of my life is TOUGH. I cannot even wrap my mind around this concept yet, so I sure can’t explain it, but I need to share it because that’s what God has asked me to do to, “write your story.” I’ve mentioned this idea of control before, and after the year I’ve had, I understand that control is not in the cards for me. But, my heart stays troubled because I yearn for it. Anyone?
I’ve been praying about this a lot lately and I’m starting to recognize just how deep this need to control thing runs in me. As I recognize this and attempt to let go, I feel like I am tumbling in the current under water. I reach and flail seeking anything solid I can put my hand around and hang on to. I realize that I just need to relax and allow the current take me to where He wants me to go, after all I know that He is God of the current. But it is hard and feels uncertain. To many of you, it probably sounds so easy and doable. But for me, not so much. I know that must sound like a lack of faith, maybe it is. But, I know the Lord will continue to do His work in me, to set me free from the IDEA that I have any control at all. I have enough faith and life experiences to know that for sure. He is faithful.
So, I guess I’ll stay where I’m at for now, peace lives here, right here in this place with me. (If you live somewhere else, I’m sure it lives where you are too.) Oh, I know I will wrestle with this, I will have busy days, I will feel peace at times and not at others. But, I will keep pressing on. Who knows, maybe I will become one of those people who gets excited about the next lesson. To be super happy when something hard comes along so I can grow and be stretched, it could happen. I mean, maybe. Anything is possible. But, I do know that I will be obedient to the best of my ability because I believe God has good things for me. And, who knows, maybe one day I will get an alpaca. ha! Each time I look at it I’ll be reminded that peace is mine, it just takes a little work.
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”