Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 10: Peace

Peace. It is something we all want, but is often very hard to come by.

We want peace in the mornings, when the house is crazy because none of the kids are getting ready for school on time.

We want peace in the evenings, when sibling rivalry seems to be at its peak.

We want peace at work, when the deadlines and stress are running rampant.

We want peace in our finances, when the bills outweigh what is left in the account.

We want peace on the highway, when traffic is crazy and we are running late for an appointment.

We want peace in our hearts when the storms of life seem to be pouring down.

We want peace in our marriage, during times when disagreements and conflict seem to be at the core of every interaction.

Peace.

Is it realistic to ever think we can really have it? Can we really have peace while living in a fallen world, filled with sin, conflict, betrayal, temptations, chaos and busyness?

Can we really have peace in our marriages when the sanctity of wedding vows has become distorted and devalued as a result of the self-centered, me-focused, culture that we live in?

I think the answer to that question depends on what kind of peace we are really looking for, and most importantly, where we are searching for it.

Just out of curiosity, I searched the word 'peace' under Google images. I found infinite pages of pictures of peace - but not one picture of Jesus. There were lots of hippy-type peace signs, two fingers held up, groups holding hands in a circle, people hugging, and even a picture of guns with an 'x' through them.

What I did not find, were pictures of Jesus, Bibles, bible verse references, crosses, heavenly clouds, praying hands or even a beautiful sunset over the ocean. The closest thing I found to resembling peace found through faith, were some pictures of doves, but even that can be interpreted as worldly without accompanying bible references.

Strangely enough, all of the images that fell under the category of peace, were of worldly perceptions of what peace is. A peace found in other people, symbols, and tangible things.

This spoke volumes to me about why so many people are stressed beyond belief, living in daily conflict in their homes, struggling in their marriages, drowning in a life full of disappointment and unmet needs, and unable to find any real peace.

The reason for this, is because people are looking for peace in people, places and things where it cannot be found.

True peace cannot come from anything that we can touch or see. It cannot be portrayed through any silly, creative symbols or made up depictions of what someone thought would signify peace.

Peace also cannot be found through simply having better marriages, better children, better jobs, better finances, less problems, or better traffic. We think that if those things get better, that we will have peace, but anything found outside of Christ, is nothing but temporary.

There was a time recently when I was struggling to find peace about some things going on that felt like they were choking the life right out of me. Problems that seemed way too big for me to handle, and certainly beyond my ability to control. A time when feelings of despair and hopelessness had invaded my heart, making me wonder if joy would ever return.

It was in the middle of that hard time that I wrote a Proverbs 31 devotion, which some of you may have already read, that was called The Day I Sat In Gods Lap. I want to encourage you to link over and read that right now, then come back and finish reading this post. (You may also want to read the accompanying blog post for that devotion.)
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Now - for those of you who did link over and read those writings, you know where my heart was then, and you know where my heart is now.

On that day, sitting in Gods lap, I discovered peace. Real peace. Not a fake symbol or an empty fictitious picture of peace. Not temporary peace. Not a peace found through a hug or even a phone call from a precious friend - but real peace - a peace that was found in the holy lap of my heavenly daddy.

In John 14:27, Jesus is trying to comfort His disciples, when he says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

There is a key word in that sentence that sticks out to me - and that is the word "my". Jesus said, I give you "my" peace. Not just peace, but His peace. Not human peace, but holy peace.

A peace that is completely His, and only His to give, because it was bought with His blood and purchased by His sacrifice. It is His legacy to His people, and we are the recipients of that legacy.

This legacy of peace is a gift from Jesus that can be opened, unwrapped and enjoyed time and time again - but if we do not ask, we will not receive. A gift that can help us see beyond the problems, and instead see the problem-solver, and trusts with our full heart and mind that nothing is impossible with Christ.

Your challenge today is this: if you feel like peace has been missing from your life, your heart, your mind, and even your marriage - or if you have been desperately searching for peace and happiness in places other than Gods Word - then take some time to sit in Gods lap today, like I explained that I did in my devotion.

Trust me friend, I know, that there is great power in the lap of a Holy God.

Now for some of you, I realize that this whole 'lap-sitting' idea may sound a little too "religious", "out there" or "over the top" - and I want to share with you that just a few years ago, I would have felt the same way, because I was not comfortable with outward worship, and did not have the faith level to really understand how important fervent prayer was in my relationship with God. In fact, I could not even comprehend that level of prayer and worship - but oh, how I wish I had known. How I wish I had let down those barriers, and surrendered it all.

I cannot help but wonder about the blessings I missed out on, the heavenly intervention that I prevented from happening, the problems that could have been avoided, and the peace that I could have embraced, had I focused on my faith, stepped out of my comfort zone, and surrendered to worship above all else.

I have come to realize over the past few years that when we toss out our personal inhibitions, and allow God to take over from the inside out, we begin to see Gods power working through every aspect of our lives, including our marriages.

If you are interested, you can copy and paste the treasure verses from the treasure box that I provided in a follow up blog post to that devotion, then simply insert your name into the verses, print them out, and spread them out all around you. If your heart is ready to experience God in that moment, you will.

If you have time to do that, then simply sit down with Gods Word. Get on your knees, literally. Pray. Ask Him to guide your hands to verses that will speak to your heart, and guide your thoughts to passages that will remind you of the peace that is available through Him. And God to help you release those feelings of hurt, hopelessness, and confusion, and replace them with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Peace has to be in your heart, before it can be in your marriage.

God can help you face and deal with the challenges in your marriage, and help to strengthen our marriages every day. But just like any other blessing that we desire from our Lord, we have to ask to receive.

Upon the asking, God begins the giving and we will find a freeing peace like we have never known before - not because of an absence of problems, but because of the presence of a King.

Marriage Challenge Day 10: PeaceSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
Today before reading your devotion, This was a 3 minute retreat I read:

Life restored...

Before you begin, pause for a moment. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to grow still. Be aware of the presence of God, who responds to you with love and compassion.

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. "He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
Luke 23:42-43

Few were more profoundly aware of God's mercy than the criminal who hung on the cross next to Jesus. Moved to uphold the innocence of Jesus, this criminal understands that Jesus is a divine ruler. The criminal discovered that through the death of Jesus, we are redeemed from sin and evil. In Jesus' Resurrection we are blessed with the opportunity to share in the divine life restored.

Knowing God's mercy, what can I do today to turn to God with my struggles?

To whom am I being called to show mercy?

Jesus, merciful and loving God, remember me today and everyday, especeally as I share my Faith with others.
Amen.

Thanks for doing just that Tracie.

Knowing God's Peace
Rhonda

Tabitha@ichoosebliss said...

It is so crazy that today's post is about peace! Yesterday after reading about pardoning (forgiving) I went into deep prayer and the sweetest peace engulfed my entire home and being. I am seeking God with all my heart and believing that I will have that peace daily in Him.

Lisa V. said...

WOW, lot of food for thought today. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

HI Tracie-
Your post today really spoke to my heart, as my marriage has gone through such horrid turmoil, one day last summer in a BIBLE study John 14:27 jumped out at me, "Peace I leave with you; MY Peace I give you", and it was truly then that the HOLY SPIRIT put on my heart that all these things I cannot control were causing me overwhelming grief. Once I truly, 100% gave it all to HIM, snuggled up on HIS lap, that an incredible peace overflowed on me. Even though we still have so many days when the issues crop up in our marriage, even though we're still struggling through a hike not of my choosing, I can honestly say that I do have such peace through HIM- a peace that surpasses all understanding!!!
THANK YOU for this reminder that our ONLY, TRUE peace comes through JESUS!!!