Peace can carry a very broad meaning, and will mean something different to each one of us. What do you think of when you think of the word peace I wonder? For some it may be a peaceful place, for others it may be an emotional feeling. But what is peace?
I suggest there are three types of peace.
Circumstantial peace, emotional peace and spiritual peace.
Circumstantial peace is as the name suggests, peace relative to circumstances.
Do you remember a time when you were in a place surrounded by peaceful circumstances. Say on a holiday, walking on the beach, swaying palm trees, a warm breeze, not a care in the world. Maybe sat in an armchair in your home on a cold winters evening, watching tv, fire burning in the hearth, a cup of coffee and a box of chocolates?
Finding a place of circumstantial peace is hard in our everyday life isn't it?
So much hustle and bustle. Even here on the Isle of Skye. My friends always thought this was the idyllic getaway, so isolated, so peaceful. Ha! Little do they know.
Yes, it can be a wonderful idyllic place, depending on your circumstances.
But what about frustrations at work, relationship problems, financial problems, health problems, too much to do and so little time to do it in.
For most folks, even on idyllic Skye, life is busy and hectic.
And you parents with kids, wow, how do you cope! Where do you find time to have a peaceful moment?! Circumstantial life isn't naturally peaceful, more often than not, its busy and challenging.
What would be your idea of a peaceful circumstance in your life?
Where would you go, what would you do? Think of something?
Now let me ask you a question, would there be a time, even in that most peaceful circumstance, that you wouldn’t actually be at peace. We can be in the most peaceful of circumstances yet inwardly we can still be in turmoil. We can be in such a bad place inwardly that even our most peaceful circumstance doesn’t help.
Even if we get what we want, even if everything around us is as we would want it to be, even if we are living in our own moment of perfection, our own perfect circumstance. We can still be in turmoil, still be unhappy, still be discontent with who we are and where we are, and what we have. And that truth, that reality can be crushing.
Even surrounded by perfect circumstantial peace, that doesn’t mean we will be at peace. Because true peace comes from within, true peace happens inside, in our heart and in head.
Let’s consider emotional peace for a moment.
Have you ever read pilgrims progress, the main character Christian is on a journey, and on his back, he carries his past with him in a sack. These past burdens get heavier and more influential in holding him back on his journey the further he travels. Our past can affect our emotions, views and our attitudes, which in due course effect our present. We can develop bad attitudes, arrogant behaviour, all without realising.
And all this stuff weighs us down. We can unwittingly be making our emotional journey through life restricted by our past. It affects what we see, and how we see things, we can all being carrying our burdens like Christian in pilgrim’s progress.
And very often, even as Christians, we become so used to it, we either don't notice, or we excuse it, and say, its not my fault, this is who I am, I can’t help being ..(judgemental, angry, sad), you fill in the blank.
There are many self-help books out there that will tells us what we have to do to find emotional peace to help sort ourselves out. And it can help to a degree. There are many things that can help us deal with our inner conflicts. Counselling helps, talking about it can help, a problem shared is a problem halved they say All kinds of stuff can help us cope, it can help us deal with emotional stuff. But as always, the basis of everything is us. Its me. Its what I want. The universe it seems needs to revolve around us and our need to dictate, our need to control, “ My life, my rules“.
Why do we hurt the ones we love? Because we cant help it, “my life, my rules”, it’s our natural reaction. Our thoughts and opinions automatically trump their thoughts and opinions. And that’s why our hopes for true peace are never fulfilled, because we dictate the peace treaty.
As important as it is to sort ourselves out emotionally, we can still be lacking the essential element to find true peace. Because the problem isn’t just horizontal, its vertical. It’s not just about what happens here on this horizontal earthly level. There is an important vertical level to it all.
Last week we said hope comes from pinning our trust on something that won’t let us down, on us taking hold of a certainty. And we came to the conclusion, God doesn't let us down so we can place our trust in Him. Because we choose to place our trust in Him, and He promises to make all things good, we can be optimistic for our future.
Hope is having optimistic, personal expectation.
We can have hope because we can trust God. But letting go and letting God into our lives isn’t that easy, because we have been brought up to believe, “my life, my rules”.
If you think that through, that means we are in conflict with God Himself.
“My life, my rules” is a vertical problem as well as a horizontal problem.
If you want to know a peace, that surpasses all understanding, stop struggling with God, surrender. We will never know true peace without making peace with God first.
God is the source of peace. He is the God of peace.
In John 14v 27 Jesus says I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart, the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.
Jesus is the source of true peace, and its a gift. A peace we can’t find in the world. We don't surrender to God and become a Christian and that is it, it’s a constant process.
If you have something that God wants to deal with in your life, you won’t know complete peace till you sort it out.
This is one of the ways He speaks to us. He prompts our conscience with a sense that something is wrong, that we are missing something
This is what happened to the thief on the cross next to Jesus. As Jesus was being crucified a thief recognised Jesus, he saw who He really was, and had a sudden awareness that there was something wrong, and ‘he’ was it and He said,
“we are getting what our deeds deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong, then he said, Jesus remember Me when you come into your kingdom...and Jesus answered truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.
“Today you will know peace, today you will experience paradise. “
When we recognise who Jesus really is, when we realise that we cant live with the “My life, my rules” mentality, when we stop wrestling with God, and we surrender to Him, then we will know true peace.
We can find peace in the middle of whatever we are facing. Peace in the most difficult of circumstances, we can find peace when our emotions run away with us. When we are sad, hurt, lost, lonely, confused, whatever.
We can know peace that surpasses all understanding no matter who we are, where we are in our circumstances, on our journey, or whatever we are feeling.
Getting right with God changes everything and opens up a future we just cant imagine
That promise is there for all of us, every day.
Total surrender is what God is after, so He can give us total peace as a gift.
What are you struggling with? What is your conscience saying to you?
Are you still carrying your burdens of the past. Is your past effecting your emotions and opinions, effecting how you see and view life?
Is your life self centred and self consumed. Is everything all about you, “my life my rules”? God has made a way out for you, wherever you are today. Surrender whatever it is you are struggling with, total surrender, total change.
2 thess 3.16 now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times, and in every situation.