Monday, February 22, 2010

Looking For Peace

Looking for peace?

For most people, peace is fleeting and illusive. Worry and anxiety are our daily companions. And yet we all long for that sense of being at peace with ourselves and our lives. We want to find the road to happiness and fulfillment. Like Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz, we follow the yellow brick road of life, hoping it will lead us to the Great Wizard who will show us the way to happiness.

The dictionary defines peace as: “Inner contentment; calm; serenity; in a state of tranquility; free from strife.” Does that describe you? If not, read on.


Some people think that certain forms of godless meditation will bring the peace they so desire. They try meditating on their inner selves, on the earth, or on nothing at all. In my own search for peace I once took a course on Transcendental Meditation. This type of meditation brought a semblance of peace while I was meditating. It certainly reduced stress. But it didn’t carry over into my daily life. When the meditation was done, I went back to my same life; my same problems.

It’s a little like smoking marijuana or taking other drugs. There is a semblance of peace and tranquility while the drug is working; but when it wears off, you’re back to the same old you, the same old problems. You have to take more and more of the drug to continue to reach the same state of peace or euphoria and you end up with an addiction. It’s a dead end street.

True inner peace is a gift, a blessing from God. St. Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in You.”

There is a well-known Jewish blessing from the Old Testament:

The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Numbers 6:24-26

(The Hebrew word “peace” includes the idea of prosperity and happiness.)

Jesus is the way to true and lasting peace

Live according to what you have learned and accepted what you have heard me say and seen me do. Then will the God of peace be with you.
St. Paul to the Philippians, 4:9

Man without God is always torn between two urges. His nature prompts him to do wrong, and his conscience urges him to do right. Antagonistic desires and crossed-up emotions keep him in a state of personal instability. Coming to have faith in Jesus can rid you of this inner conflict

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, spoke this prophecy about Jesus:

For you shall go before the Lord to prepare straight paths for Him,
Giving his people a knowledge of salvation in freedom from their sins,
All this is the work of the kindness of our God;
He, the Dayspring, shall visit us in His mercy
To shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:76b-79

The angels declared to the shepherds in the field when announcing the birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

In His final words to His disciples Jesus said: “I tell you all this that in Me you may find peace.” John 16:33

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ. It is He who is our peace…”
Ephesians 2:13-14a

“Because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God.”
Romans 5:1

Peace comes from the Holy Spirit through Jesus; it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of the working of the Holy Spirit within a person. “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 5:22, 23

“Recipe” For Attaining Peace

In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul gives what I like to call the “recipe” for attaining peace:

1. Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!
2. Everyone should see how unselfish you are.
3. The Lord is near. Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.
4. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.

Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding,
will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4-7

Be obedient to God’s Laws

“The fruit of righteousness is peace; the effect of uprightness will be tranquility and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:17

You can’t expect to have inner peace if you’re not obeying God’s Laws. God places within our minds and souls a conscience which causes a disturbance in our spirit if we’re doing something contrary to God’s Laws. Even for those who don’t know God’s Laws through the Bible or church teaching, their conscience works to some extent to cause unrest in their spirits when they are doing something contrary to the Laws of God. That’s why none of us has peace all of the time. None of us is perfect. No matter how hard we try to follow God’s Laws, we all fail from time to time.

The conscience of some people has been dulled through the indoctrination of the lies of the world. These people may experience inner peace from time to time, even though they are doing things contrary to God’s Laws. But this is a false sense of peace; a mask, so to speak, of the conscience. And it doesn’t last.

“Those who love your law have great peace, and for them there is no stumbling block.” Psalm 119:165

“My son, forget not my teaching,
Keep in mind my commands;
For many days, and years of life,
And peace, will they bring you.” Proverbs 3:1-2

Follow God’s Will for Your Life

“In His Will is our peace.” Dante Alighieri

Fulfillment (happiness, peace, contentment) in life is found in doing what you were meant to do; in using the gifts God has given specifically to you. God has placed each of us on this earth for a reason. He has a specific plan for you and for me. He has given us gifts and talents to equip us to accomplish His Will for us. We have the freedom to choose our own way. But we will not find inner peace if our way is not His way. Does that mean we’re not free to do what we want with our lives? No, we are free to choose. But we will not be at peace unless we are doing what we were designed to do.

Have a Plan

Invest your time in the most important things of life.

Many people live life responding to the immediate. They go through their days doing what they have to do or responding to the people around them. They end up feeling like they’re running around in circles, not accomplishing much, and most of all not doing what is really important.

Not having a plan for the use of your time can cause anxiety and that harried feeling. My mother used to say that she often had trouble getting to sleep because she would be mentally going over the next day’s tasks.

After the birth of my first child, when my life became more hectic, I found that I was often anxious and preoccupied with the details of caring for a baby and managing my household. When I attended church, I was unable to pray or concentrate because my mind was spinning with what needed to be done that day.

Then I came across an article on time management. It was probably a forerunner of what is known in business as the Franklin Planner. The article said to write down your tasks, or what you would like to do, dividing them into three categories: what has to be done today; what should be done today; things to do if you have time. When you accomplish column one, go on to column two and so forth. With some occupations it works to make a weekly list.

Using that system, I found I was much more at peace and my mind was clearer because I wasn’t trying to keep everything I had to do in my head and constantly trying not to forget something. Also, after I began following Jesus more closely, I would pray about my work, or how I would use my time, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in planning my day.

Fear of Death

“Now that we have been justified by faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:111

We’re all going to die. We all fear death. Those with true peace may fear the way they will die. Even Jesus feared the way of the cross. But those with true peace know where they’re going after death. Do you?

Without that assurance there will always be that nagging fear of death which mars any peace you may experience. God gave us the way to that assurance in the person of Jesus Christ.

Yes, God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son,
that whoever believes in Him may not die
but may have eternal life.

John 3:16

Summing Up

“Live in harmony and peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11b

Ultimately peace comes when you give control of your life to God, are guided by His Holy Spirit, and trust in His revealed Word in the Bible.

“May He who is the Lord of peace give you continued peace in every possible way.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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