Practicing the Peace of God

Not long ago, a friend said to me that she’s rarely had occasions when she didn’t feel the gut-wrenching discomfort of fear churning away inside her. With everything that is going on in our world, she believes her fears are getting worse. She’s often heard folks speak about the peace of God, but she finds it very challenging to accept. My friend is afraid of everything, and much of her time is spent preparing for the worse. Many of us have been there, and some of us are still there. The anxious gnawing away inside us is the response to our fear of eminent danger, and it’s because we feel powerless to do anything about what we perceive to be a threat. Whether or not we can readily identify any immediate danger is irrelevant. Our internal register tells us that we’ve been wounded before, and we are in jeopardy of being wounded again.

Romans 8:37 declares that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us! The “more than” takes it over the moon for me, because it conveys overwhelming victory through Christ. A life filled with fear is operating in a whole other dimension than a life fully operating in Romans 8:37. It’s almost as if the two individuals, one trusting Christ and the other overwhelmed by fear, are on two different planets. Our fears, worries, and doubts do nothing to help any situation that arises, yet most of us gravitate towards these heavies more than we do towards faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The thing that I shared with my friend is that fear has a ravenous appetite. It doesn’t know how to take one bite. It just wants more and more and more. Anxiety and worry feed it and continue doing so until this cycle of feeding and wanting more takes over a person’s life. At some point, we have to get off this rollercoaster and realize that although it’s fast moving, it’s not getting us anywhere.

The peace of God is our destination, and there are certain choices and decisions it requires for the journey forward. The first of which is understanding that we’re not in charge of God’s peace. It isn’t something we calculate, manipulate, or ration. Fear makes us think that by feeding it, we have some degree of control. We don’t, and this mindset will not fly with the things of God. He is sovereign. This means that He’s in total control, and the only way that you and I can experience His blessings is through our humility. We must humble ourselves before all that He is. Fear is from the kingdom of darkness, and fear does not acknowledge that God is in control.

Another important choice we must make is that of no longer practicing fear. This is not to say that we must totally eradicate every drop of fear in our lives. From where we stand today, none of us are even totally conscious of how much fear and doubt is in our hearts. But to the extent that we are aware, we must focus our attention on God through the person of Jesus Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We have to be willing to surrender everything to God in prayer, understanding that our faith in Him through Jesus Christ is what transports us from chaos and confusion into His perfect peace. We cannot steer, and we don’t own the map. All we are required to do is to trust Heavenly Father and train the eyes of our hearts to continually look to the Lord, as we allow our souls to rest in His peace.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Practicing the Peace of God”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Once Hopeless and Now Grateful Onion Peeler

I was raised in a rural community, and our house was on what used to be a long dirt road. It was paved with asphalt when I was a teenager, and our neighbor’s son must have thought it belonged only to him. Young and sometimes very foolish, Frankie would speed down that paved road on late Saturday nights like a crazy person, and there was no way he would have been able to safely stop for anything in his view. As we ran for our lives down that newly paved road in the dead of night, oddly enough that’s what was on my mind. Not the fury of rage that was chasing us, not the abuse we’d spent the entire night trying to fend off and would spend the early morning trying to conceal. My concern was to motivate my mother and sisters to push through exhaustion, to keep running so we’d be nowhere on the road if Frankie came through. That’s how anesthetized I had become to our weekend traumas.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I don’t sleep well at night. I sleep like a baby during daytime hours, but nights, forget about it. Growing up, my nights were often filled with terror…unspeakable terror, and I was never not aware of it. My constant state of being was a cross between nervousness, nausea, and numbness. No one outside the walls of our home suspected a thing. My siblings and I were always impeccably dressed, and very well behaved. We were bred to be keepers of the secret—to keep our mouths closed about family business. We were quite good at it.

I didn’t know that I had a right to speak about my pain or to hope that I would be free from it. The heaviness was crushing me, and my soul, oh my soul was tired. But I couldn’t give it a name. I was too young to be tired, my grandmother would say, and I was too old to cry. When I did cry, no one tended to my tears, and I truly had no expectation that they would.

I heard someone say that they couldn’t face another day in the shape they were in. I didn’t have a day to spare. I was the epitome of weary, wounded, and sad. I sought the face of Jesus at a point where I couldn’t face one more minute of life as I had known it. When I gave my life to him totally and completely, the light came on, and I knew in that moment I was changed. Many people have made that statement, but I don’t believe one can do so as veraciously as someone that understands the depth of how ravaging fear can be on the human soul.

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT), “28 Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” I learned this passage in Sunday School. For years, it cascaded about my shoulders like a warm shawl, but I didn’t wrap myself in it. That took some time.

Jesus said come, rest, then take. This was not an instantaneous process, and most of us are far too impatient to see the beauty of it unfold. I came and rested. It was glorious. Then came the work.

Like an onion, I had layers; most of us do. The first is peeled lovingly by our blessed Lord, and there are tears of joy. We experience his freedom, but then we realize that there is so much more. There are more layers to peel, and deeper wounds to heal.

All these years later, I’m still peeling back layers, and still crying tears of joy and sometimes sorrow as I do, but I realize that this surrendering work in Christ is vital to life. Our precious Savior does not force his way into our hearts. Peeling away the layers of hurt and pain is part of our life’s work. Through it we learn how deep Jesus will go to heal us.

I’m very aware of how the abuse I suffered has affected me. It’s given me survival skills that no longer serve me well, but often hinder me. It’s given me an almost obsessive need for peace, and it has also allowed me a front row view of my own life as I’ve transformed from hopeless to grateful. What I received from God through the Lord Jesus Christ was a drenching that completely deluged my pitifulness. The memory of it so impacts me today that I find joy in being an onion peeler. The deeper I go into my wounded self, the deeper I feel his unyielding, unconditional love. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“The Once Hopeless and Now Grateful Onion Peeler” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!