I Am Kept

Kept in Perfect Peace?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 ESV

Perfect peace. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often have perfect peace.  I am far more often kept in a state of fretfulness.  And as we’ve explored being “kept” this week, my heart has been drawn to this verse.  It’s a promise with a catch. We can be kept in perfect peace only if our minds are “stayed” on God, trusting in Him.

So, following the logic here, it appears that my mind is not stayed on God, because I’m not peaceful. My mind does anything but stay anywhere.  It flits from one subject to another, from one unfulfilled desire to the next, from this problem to that one.  Worry creeps in, entangling me.

I am my own keeper. And I’m doing a lousy job of it.  I’m ready to allow God to do the keeping.

And so, I must choose to focus on Him, not on all the things I want or need. I must trust Him to meet my true needs instead of trying frantically to devise ways to meet them myself, worrying that I’m using the wrong means to get to my end.  I must learn to find contentment with Him alone, not in any other thing or person.

When I look at God instead of my problems – ah, there it is. Peace.  And He’ll keep me in it, as long as I keep my mind “stayed” on Him.  His faithfulness.  His sufficiency.  His trustworthiness. He is a bottomless pool of peace.  May I choose to swim in it today, tomorrow, next month and 10 years from now.

Peace.

I am able to be content

I am able to be Content: A Joint Post

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4: 11-13

From Susan:

About eight years ago, I wanted something desperately.  I felt as though I wouldn’t be able to breathe if I didn’t get this thing, this blessing, this necessity-for-happiness.  But circumstances meant that I could never have my heart’s desire.  Ever.  And so, I was walking misery. 

And it was while I was out walking for exercise one day that this verse flooded my soul.  Yes, God confirmed, He would never give me my sought-after thing.  And He was ok with that.  He told me I could choose to be content in my current circumstances, with the blessings He had already given me, or I could choose to be despondent, yearning for something I’d never receive.

Well, who wants to be despondent?  I mean, who chooses that option?  Me.  I was choosing it.  And in that moment, I realized I didn’t have to feel that way.  I could choose to be content.  Like Paul, I learned the secret of contentment: mustering Christ’s strength (not my own), I chose to breathe thankfulness for what I already had and let go of what would never be mine. Peace flooded my soul. 

From Jen:

Peace and discontentment do not reside together. Angst is desire’s best friend. This gets tricky, though. I believe that God gives us dreams to chase after, ambitions to pursue. But discerning the ambitions wrought by His hand from the selfish desires of our fleshly hearts can be difficult.

How can I determine one from the other?

As Susan pointed out, misery may hold a clue. Despondency? This is not the will of God. Even in His most excruciating moments, Jesus did not become despondent. His plea for another way, though intense beyond imagination, did not smoother His contentment in the will of God. Conversely, Jesus was still able to lay down His angst and submit to the will of the Father.

How?

I believe Paul tells us. All things can be done in the strength of the Spirit of God. And that strength smoothers unhappiness. That strength provides the contentment we long for, even when what we sought is not what is given.

I have been offered peace

Peace When Life isn’t Peaceful

“Peace I leave with you; 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 fearful.” John 14:27, NASB
Can there be peace in the midst of a storm?

I remember a word image a friend painted in a study she’d written several years ago. Imagine a storm, fierce and tumultuous, raging across the prairie. Picture a tree, bending in the angry wind, and in that tree, see a nest with a mother bird covering her tiny chicks. Label that image ‘peace.’

It’s been a long time, but I still have that image in my head. It resurfaces every time I think about peace. It’s an incredible picture, and one that demands thought.

Peace . . . In the midst of a terrifying storm. But why? Peace is a back massage, the smells of lavender and the gentle chords of soothing music in the background. Peace is placid waters on a comfortable summer evening. Peace is a fall afternoon in a hammock, swaying to the rhythm of a musky breeze.

But a storm? Not peaceful.

There’s the difference. Right there. I changed the word, didn’t I? Just because a setting is peaceful doesn’t mean that I have peace. Conversely, because a setting is difficult doesn’t mean that I can’t have peace.

Peace isn’t a set of circumstances. Peace is an anchor that drops in deep waters, beneath the currants that shift with the weather. It is the truth that undergirds reality.

Peace where it isn’t peaceful. God’s peace. The kind I want. Don’t you?

I have been offered peace

Peace in Wisdom

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. . . ~Proverbs 3:1-3, KJV

Sometimes there is confusion, even among believers, about obedience to God’s Word. We live in the age of grace, do we not? Yes. So, should I continue in sin, so that grace may abound? (Paul’s question, not mine). May it never be! (Also his words—Romans 6).

I’m thinking about God’s offer of peace—that I may live in peace if I maintain my hand in His. That equation requires obedience. I hear (and think myself) now and then about how we are not bound by “church rules,” and that’s true. We’re not Pharisees. But we are to be girded by God’s rules, because they were not given intended as chains, but as a hedge of protection.

Hear me here: I’m not hinting that if we dot all the ‘i’s’ and cross all the ‘t’s’ that God  is then obligated to make our lives easy. He left us the book of Job to dash that illusion. But, as I’m gazing over the landscape of my past, I blush at how many times I’ve lived without peace because I’d neglected the ordinances of God. Disobedience has a price, and often lack of peace comes with the tag.

Walking in the wisdom of God requires me to put my hand in His, and in that grip there is peace. The question before us is this: are we hanging on to that generous offer, or have we turned our own way?