Monday, June 29, 2020

Looking for Peace in an Unpeaceful World

It seems like the "new normal" we keep hearing about in commercials is stress-filled days caused by "bad" news of the pandemic, economic struggles, the constant bickering of elected officials who refuse to work together, and violent protests and political unrest that's evolved into people calling for the erasure of our country's history--both the good and the bad. I have noticed that the cry of my heart at the end of every day is for peace. And, the question I ponder is, "How do I sow peace in a world so filled with discord?"

Because my husband spent years doing research on cotton, I have grown fond of faming analogies. So, if peace were a crop we could grow, we would do is secure a field, cultivate the ground by breaking up the soil, add needed nutrients, and form perfect rows in which to plant seeds of peace. I would liken the cultivation process to putting into our hearts and mind God's truth because He is our source of peace, whether that peace is in our relationship with Him or in our relationships with each other.

The next thing we would do is set up a perimeter around our field to guard it. I would like that to 1 Timothy 6:20, "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoid the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge." We want to remember God's Word is as true today as it was in the days it was written. We would do well to saturate our minds with it so it becomes a measuring stick by which we measure everything we see and hear. We may need to limit how much news we watch or how often we scroll Facebook, because much of what is on there right now is equivalent to profane, idle babbling, and contradictions to the truth being portrayed as knowledge. If we aren't careful, we can be carried away by the false narratives being so loudly proclaimed.

At times we will need to deal with pests that destroy the peace we are sowing. Imagine if you will, a field full of freshly sown seeds and a flock of crows starts circling overhead and are ready to descend. If we look carefully we can see names of the crows written on them. The first crow that tries to land is Temptation. He wants to draw us into sin because sin can destroy the sense of peace that we have with God. If we aren't careful we can invite this crow in through all kinds of media--inappropriate shows, angry posts to which we want to respond in an ungodly manner, and enticements to visit and revisit the besetting sins we once thought we had conquered. Other crows bear the family name of Fear--Fear of the Future, Fear of Illness, Fear of Rejection, Fear of Change, Fear of the loss of our constitutional rights, and many more. Some of these crows bear the family names of Discouragement, Despair, and Depression. We can deal with these crows by placing a Scare Crow in the middle of the garden. If you haven't already guessed, the Scare Crow is Jesus. The dark forces of the world literally tremble in His presence and we need to let Him be the guard of our lives and our hearts. We want to keep our eyes focused on Him as we do the work of cultivating peace.

Next imagine seedlings popping through the soil. They need to be nurtured with nutrients and water on a consistent basis to be healthy. They need to have the weeds growing near them pulled. The nutrients represent the Word of God, the water the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live lives connected to the Lord, and the weeds represent all that hinders our peace. Young plants are vulnerable to little worms, beetles, and aphids that want to feed on the plants. These pests can do great damage, even destroying crops all together. These pests are the lies--big and small--that the enemy whispers in our ears. These lies left unchecked and unrefuted can cause us to lose focus of the crop we're growing. These lies are designed to keep us bound in shame. They are designed to cause us to doubt our relationship with God. They are designed to cause us to doubt the goodness, the love, the power, or the presence of our God. We deal with these little pests by plucking them off of our plants when we take our thoughts captive to God's Truth, and maintain our focus on the One who is the complete embodiment of truth.

As we tend to our growing peace, we want to remember to take one day at a time. Any farmer can tell you that there are so many things that can go wrong over the course of the life of his crops that one could drive himself crazy with the "what if''s." Matthew 6:34 is a great reminder of this. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things." If a farmer focuses only on today's chores, todays pests, today's weather, and todays problems he'll experience less stress, less turmoil, and less strife in his life and enjoy more peace.

Sowing peace is hard work and we want to dress appropriately to have endurance. This means we must take off old clothes of pride, corruption, deceitfulness, lust, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice, lying, and evil speaking--all of which rob us of peace in our lives and in our relationships. And, through the Holy Spirit we put on the adequate clothing of truth, righteousness, humility, and love. This will enable us to cultivate peace through sacrificial giving, the speaking of truth in a loving ways, kindness, and tenderhearted compassion. And, when discord seeps back into our field and we can fertilize it with repentance and truth spoken lovingly and then shower it with grace and forgiveness.

As I am ending this post, I dawns on me that it really isn't about looking for peace in a world that cannot give it. It is about staying connected to the God of peace who sanctifies me completely so that my spirit, soul, and body are preserved blameless at the coming of Jesus. Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." As I wait for His glorious return, the cry of my heart has evolved into, "Let me be a conduit of Your peace, Lord, to a world that sorely needs you."

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!