A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!” “Why not?” asked his mother. “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.”
His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why you will go to church. One, you’re 51 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!”
We live a lot of our lives lacking peace because we’re after other things. We get those things, and of course then we do not get peace.
In other words, we’re willing to trade peace for excitement or stress or goals or dreams, which is fine of course in many ways. After all, it’s not like you can have the important goal and accept the stress of raising two or three children and expect a life of peace and rest. That just doesn’t happen.
Still, we also know the willingness to sacrifice peace over other things can cost too much. Too often we’re trading too many things, too many lesser things for peace and the power of peace.
Psalm 34:14 says, “…Seek peace, and pursue it.” Paul the Apostle joined in on this when he wrote, “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.”
Pull back on your willingness to sacrifice your peace of mind. Be a better judge of what’s really worth losing your interior strength and calm. You will find that you’ve given it away over way too many less important things.
How often people lose sleep over things they can’t do anything about. It makes no sense to do this. We think we can strategize and organize our way out of a mess. We go into our heads, close the door behind us, lock it, sit down and get to work, worrying and doubting and fearing, all by ourselves—as if that’s how it’s supposed to be done.
A spouse will come by and knock on that door, but we will say go away. A friend will stop by to see if he can lend a hand, and we’ll say no thanks. A child will ask us to go and play for a little while but we’ll say we’re too busy. The Lord will invite us to rest a bit, to pray a little, and to take over for us, but we’ll say, “I can do this on my own.”
And we wonder why we’re a bunch of nerves and can’t find our way to peace.
Don’t do it on your own. Let God into your heart first before you start to work on the problem. Keep the Lord in your mind as your go over what you’re going to be doing. Let others in to lend you a hand. You’re not alone in your battle.
You see, we have to protect our peace. We need to put our minds at rest. God is working on the situation. The Lord has you in his sights.
We need t stop stripping ourselves of our faith when we’re in need. Instead, remind yourself of God’s love. Keep your heart in the Lord’s grace. Put your mind to rest in God’s care for you.
The truth is we let a lot of little stuff steal our peace. We get upset about our job, or about the people at our job. We let ourselves get stressed out about traffic. It’s as if we’re trained to lose our peace. It’s like we believe we’re supposed to lean toward being angry and upset and impatient.
But the opposite is true. Don’t give in to getting upset. Stop following someone else’s bad lead. Protect your peace. Cling to a restful heart and a hopeful spirit.
When we let go of our peace, we start to sow seeds of fear and worry. That’s not the harvest you want for your life. You need to watch over what you’re planting in your life and pull out the thoughts that make you anxious. Plant instead more faith and trust in the Lord.
In the Old Testament, there’s a familiar word for peace. It’s the word shalom, and it’s used about 250 times. It’s been a part of Jewish culture since the beginning.
Shalom is a word with a great broad meaning. When you greet someone with the word shalom, you would in essence bless them with a hope for their contentment or fulfillment. Shalom has the sense well-being and the hope that all that is good would flow into their life.
Shalom doesn’t mean I wish you peace because you will finally stop fighting with your wife or husband or children or your neighbor. It’s a much bigger blessing of a word than that.
But the truth is until we can stop fighting over easy and frequent words and actions, until we learn to cast our little cares and concerns on the Lord, until we can stop getting all worked up so often about things five minutes later you realize were ridiculous, it’s tough to find fulfilment.
You can’t be blessed when you’re belligerent.
Find a way to be still when others aren’t. Cast your cares upon the Lord. Trust God. Be still and know God is God.
In scripture, David faced many trials and enemies. He said, “The Lord is my shepherd. He leads me beside still waters.” Still waters are deep waters. It’s good to empty your turmoil, your peace-less pursuits and hungers, into God’s still waters. Submerge your concerns in God’s deep waters, and find some time to restore your soul to a calmer sense.
Stop letting little things stir up the surface of your heart. Let things go. Bless others. Pray for them when they do wrong.
So many people keep running around in circles. Too many folks keep all their negative stuff right in front of them. We lift up our hearts to what brings us down. And what’s worse, we take God off the throne in order to do it.
But the Lord doesn’t belong as an afterthought. Put the Lord back up on the throne in your life. Take down worries and anxieties you put up there instead. Take antagonism off its high horse. Remove doubt from its pedestal.
When Jesus decided it was time for his disciples to go out to spread his message about the kingdom of heaven, he gave them simple instructions. He told them don’t bring anything with them but the clothes on their back—not even sandals.
When he came to a home they were first to say, “Peace.” He told them if someone in the home shared in peace, their peace would rest on that person. But if not it would return to the disciple.
The truth is it’s up to us to share in peace, to be peaceful people. We can’t lift up all of our troubles, put them on the throne of our minds and hearts, and hold on to being peaceful people. We ought to be folks who are either spreading the word of God’s peaceful kingdom or at least be full enough of peace so that when we meet someone who’s good like that you will want to share in the blessing.
Protect your peace so you can recognize peace.
But we can’t do that if we worry about and concern ourselves over things we don’t even know are going to happen. We forecast storms when just a cloud or two have come up on the horizon. Sure we may get some rain in the future but that doesn’t mean our lives are going to get flooded. We shouldn’t miss today worried about tomorrow.
Of course someone may say, “If I don’t keep problems in mind, they may sneak up on me.” Sure we should plan but we should be planning with the strength of God kept in our mind. The Lord has promised you strength to meet all your difficulties. Trust in the Lord.
How many times have we thought the end was coming and nothing like that occurred? The sky has yet to fall just because an acorn fell on your head.
Don’t be like Chicken Little, who took one little issue and scared himself and others half to death.
Stop trying to solve problems that aren’t even there. Don’t waste your life on phantom concerns. They will steal your peace.
In our scripture reading, the risen Christ has no doubt as to what he wants to give his disciples as his first gift. It’s peace. When they see him, they are afraid and bewildered. He blesses them with his peace.
When they finally calm down enough to actually hear him and take in what he’s saying, he blesses them with the word of peace again. If you had any doubts as to how important being a person of peace and someone who pursues peace was, now you should know.
The world is full of people who take up anger and resort to aggression. We’re surrounded by folks who think nothing of condemnation and don’t hesitate at causing division. People have ingrained in themselves ways of pursuing strife, implementing enmity, and arousing animosity.
Don’t let them steal your peace. Hold on tight to a vision of kindness. Keep stepping into still waters. Be like Christ, who made peace and peaceful pursuits his way of life. Love peace.
It’s very tough to let the Lord in your life, to change the direction of your life, to become a powerful witness for the love of God in Christ if you haven’t first found a way to keep peace in your heart and mind.
We can only accomplish this if we believe in the kingdom of peace, in the power of God to make right win the day, that good will stand tall on tough, turbulent days.
The risen Christ wasn’t just blessing the disciples that morning in some quick, customary manner. He meant it when he said, “Shalom.” He wanted to leave them with peace as a gift. It was theirs to keep or to give away. It was theirs to hoard or to share. It was theirs to multiply or diminish.
It is still theirs. It is still ours, two thousand years later. It’s ours to keep and share and to bless others with. Protect Christ’s gift. Hold onto the treasure that is the peace that passes understanding. Share it, so that it may build up others, build up the church, build up our world.
Can the church say Amen?