Strange. Peace. Inner peace. Inner peace that flows out of a solid connection with the Prince of peace - Jesus. The above signs of course are what we normally think about when we hear the word peace. I have been struck lately while reading through the gospel of Luke with how many times Jesus says, "Go in peace." I have often asked my self how that is even possible with all the turmoil going on in the world. And yet lately, I find myself in a place of extraordinary peace. That led me to examine how I have arrived here.
Peace - the absence of conflict, but even more than that, an overall sense of well being that flows out of an inner confidence in someone or something. The peace that Jesus offers is not a declaration that turmoil or tragedy no longer exists, but rather in the midst of troubling turmoil or tragedy, we are not troubled as a result. That state of peace can come only when you understand how Jesus is the best source of Peace. He is called the Prince of Peace. Royalty, ultimately ruling over that which leaves us troubled. Well, I could go on about all this, but I looked at how, for the first time in awhile, I am actually at peace. Here are what I think may be the contributing factors.
Physical Health - last summer I was two weeks away from major surgery for what turned out to be a lifelong sinus problem. What a difference a year makes. I was almost totally incapacitated last year at this time, useless to my co-workers, frustrated, and generally distressed by the problem that existed in my head. This Spring has been such a contrast. Thank God for good physicians and the healing grace of God.
Released Some Bitterness - The problem has not gone away, those who caused the bitterness are still exactly where they were, and my solution has been completely ignored. But, through prayer to a sovereign God, supportive friends, and the patient love of a good wife, I have been able to "let it go." What a relief.
Contentment - The apostle Paul says (Philippians 4:12-13) that getting to the place where you are satisfied, without the need to be driven, or compelled to reach for more for the wrong reasons, well, takes awhile to learn. Seems I have at least gotten close to reaching that point. This is not complacency or slothfulness. But contentment. I think the road to contentment is paved partly with a heart of gratitude. Being thankful for what one has rather than focusing on what one doesn't or can't have. Seems that was one of Satan's tactics in the garden. He was successful in getting Adam and Eve to focus on the one thing they couldn't do, eat the fruit of the tree, the one thing they didn't have, the knowledge of good and evil. And so by disobeying God, refusing to believe God and decided to make up their own rules......Ooops. Sorry, started preaching.....
Focusing on Relationships - I am by nature a task oriented person. I have shifted my energy to work more on the people around me rather than the tasks in front of me. Big difference. About eighteen months ago I asked the Lord to teach me how to love people, I mean really love them. Well, let's just say that my learning curve has been pretty steep. Oh, by the way, how good are you at actually loving your enemies? Or your neighbors? School is still in session.
Working in my giftedness -
I say no, a lot. Twice this month I said no to people who wanted me to do what they wanted me to do, instead of what I know God has given me to do. At 55, it is more obvious than ever that I have only so much time left on earth. I am going to be about what I know God wants me to be about.
I act with intentionality. My work week is very focused, has a margin in it for people, and is a direct reflection of what I believe are my God given goals for this year......well, at least more than in the past. Maybe this is practice, skill training, or God's Spirit working through me,
but whatever it is, God is actually using me to help people change and grow. It is quite satisfying.
I know my strengths. My base gifting is teaching. The other four gifts listed in Ephesians 4 are phases I have drifted in and out of over time. See Building A Discipling Culture for a greater explanation of the five fold gifts. Working on your areas of weakness over time actually helps you increase your capacity for influencing others. But by interacting with others, consulting my wife and evaluating failures, one can fine tune activity in a way that leads to strong relationships as well as meaningful accomplishment.
The end result is peace. That is where I am today. And I thank God for it.