Peace is a Place
On several occasions in the past I have had to drive quite a distance in a terrible winter storm in order to get
home. Out in the storm it feels like I am surrounded by chaos. The wind is blowing, the snow and ice are
making visibility difficult, cars are sliding off of the road and car lights are glaring on the frosted windshield.
I am clutching the steering wheel, shoulders tight, jaw set, tense, anxious and filled with fear. When I finally
arrive at home safely, park the car, enter the warm house, take a hot shower and settle into the lazy boy by
the fire, the dog across my lap, the anxiety, tension and fear slowly begin to subside. I settle in to this place,
completely at peace. The storm is still raging outside, the chaos continues but I am in a different place, I am
surrounded by a different presence. It is the place of peace.
I think we all would agree that 2020 has been like a terrible storm. We have felt the chaos of a deadly virus, the loss of so many good people, the shut down of businesses and activities that had become a way of life for us. The feeling of disorder and dread has intensified with racial tension and a charged political season that has left us feeling isolated, alone and afraid. Navigating through this storm has produced feelings of tension, anxiety and fear.
While we do not have the power to stop all of the chaos that is completely out of our control, we do have the power to enter into a different presence. The Psalmist declared, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1) and “The LORD is my refuge, a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Much like my warm house in the snowstorm, God surrounds us with His love, goodness, mercy and strength, allowing us to settle into Him. When we choose to settle into the presence of God, the chaos has no more power over us. We have found our place of peace. When we make the choice to be wholly present to the presence of God, our focus shifts from the chaos around us to the One who has power over all of the chaos. Jesus promised a peace that was “not like the world” (John 14:27). The peace the world is looking for is the absence of chaos. The peace that God give is a peace IN the chaos. The Apostle Paul describes this peace as that which “exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:7). Peace without the resolution of the chaos doesn’t make sense!
Being fully present to God’s presence includes being present to His sovereignty. God is the author of the larger story. He is building His Kingdom, redeeming His people, preparing the world for a final judgment. Through our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, we are a part of that larger story. Being fully present to His sovereignty means knowing where all of this is headed. In the end, we win. In the end, we spend eternity with Him, without sickness, without war, without death, without divorce, without disease!
Being fully present to God’s presence includes being present to His love. Jesus taught that His love was big enough to allow us to “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Racial tension, political ideology and differences of opinion become less of a problem when we saturate ourselves with God’s love and allow that love to flow through us into the lives of others.
Being fully present to God’s presence means just that, staying in the present. Much of our fear, anxiety and tension comes when we play the “what if” game. What if this happens? What if that happens? Since we cannot predict the future, these questions have no real answers and so the conversation spins in our heads, picking up speed and swirling us into depression, despondency and discouragement. God is with us here in the present. We can plan for the future with wisdom, we can pray about the future with faith but ultimately we must trust God for the future because He is the only one who KNOWs what the future will bring. When that future, whatever it is, becomes our present, He will be with us in it.
Here is the good news. This place of peace is always available. When the children of Israel were ready to enter the promised land, God promised them that if they sought Him with all of their heart, they would find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). God wants to surround you with His presence. He will allow you to flounder in the chaos if you choose to but He longs for you to choose the place of peace.