25 08 2020

Peace is an inside job. | Boat wallpaper, Biblical verses, Native ...


Many years ago, I bought an album by the band Boston and the second cut on the record was a song entitled, “Peace of Mind.” The lyrics went something like this, “Now everybody’s got advice they just keep on givin,’ doesn’t mean too much to me. Lots of people out to make-believe they’re livin,’ can’t decide who they should be, whoa. I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind. People livin’ in competition, all I want is to have my peace of mind.” I would venture a guess that peace of any kind is in limited supply these days. I do know that if we don’t have peace of heart, there is no chance to experience peace of mind, body and soul.

The Bible has a lot to offer us when it comes to the subject of peace. Shalom is a word that implies that real peace has nothing to do with our outer circumstances but everything to do with what is happening on our insides. As a matter of fact, the peace that God promises is one that brings security to the heart eternally no matter what is on the move externally. If we are right with the Lord, then even if nothing else is right with the world, we will be secure in the midst of any insecurity living may bring our way.  

For example, in the Letter Paul wrote to the Philippians, he pens his masterpiece while imprisoned in Rome. He is locked up in chains, attached to a Roman soldier, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and he has been in this situation for two long years and yet he writes of real joy and lasting peace. Paul once lived a life of constant adventure, traveling from city to city, influencing people of all ages and when we catch up to him via this correspondence, Paul is immobile. He is locked up tight in the sight of a system that isn’t letting him go anywhere. Paul has restricted movement, limited resources, and dwindling support. This energetic, fast-paced preacher, who was constantly active and moving about, is now confined tight as a drum under the most severe and strictest house arrest.

One might conclude that Paul’s temperament is in shambles. You might expect to discover a mighty bitter man behind these manmade bars. But that is not the message that comes from his words. Paul is not singing the blues but boasting of the reality that he rejoices in the Lord always. He shares how he has learned to be content with much and also with no material provisions at all. And while he might physically be chained, there is no stopping the faith that continues to pour out of him in spite of prison. Paul is not a chronic whiner. He is not longing for the good old days. Instead, this is a man who knows an unexplainable peace in his heart despite his current address. In the midst of the storm raging around him, a strong and steadfast purpose has settled into his heart. Paul, who has many reasons to feel conflicted and anxious, discouraged and defeated, is a man who has confidence not in what is around him but in the Holy Spirit who lives within him. And the same God who saved Paul is the same God who offers us that kind of peace.

Why then are we running to hide when we should be ready to shine our lights bright? As we find ourselves in a season unlike any other most of us have ever faced, are we showing others a Jesus who makes a difference or are we complaining about our settings and longing for yesterday? Peace of mind must be connected to a supernatural peace of heart that no longer looks to this world to provide the answers but has found all that is worth living for in a Kingdom where our Heavenly Father reigns. The promise is that the Lord’s perfect love will cast out fear. But the opposite is also true. Fleshly fear will blind us to the miraculous love of God. When we fix our eyes on what is around us rather than staying close to the Lord who is within us, we will miss the magic of making a forever difference each and every time. Fight the fear and live like the Lord is here, because in reality, He is very near!

I want to illustrate the thin line between fear and faith with this true story. Bryan Stephenson, author of “Just Mercy” and founder of an organization that tries to help those unjustly convicted of crimes, was trying to free a man who was clearly innocent. About a dozen people had seen him when he allegedly committed the crime, but none of those people were allowed in the courtroom because they were African-Americans. So, Stephenson complained to the judge, who reluctantly allowed Stephenson to admit a few of these eyewitnesses.

One older woman named Mrs. Williams was chosen to represent this group. But there was another big problem: a huge German shepherd stood guard outside the courtroom. When Mrs. Williams, who was deathly afraid of dogs, saw the dog she froze and then her body began to shake. Tears started running down her face before she turned around and ran out of the courtroom.

Later she said, “Mr. Stevenson, I feel so badly, I let you down today. I was meant to be in that courtroom. I should have been in that courtroom.” And she started to cry, and nobody could console or comfort her. But when she shared her history, one could only empathize and sympathize with this wonderful woman. She said, “I wanted to be in there so bad. But when I saw that dog all I could think about was Selma, Alabama 1965. I remember how they beat us, and I remember the dogs. I wanted to move and I tried to move but I just couldn’t do it.” And she walked away with tears running down her face. She felt like a failure because she was allowing her environment to stifle the necessary truth she knew she had to share.

The next day her sister told Stevenson that Mrs. Williams didn’t eat or talk to anybody all night. They just heard her praying all night long the same prayer: “Lord, I can’t be afraid of a dog. Lord, please help me with my fear of this dog.”  The next morning, she walked up to Stevenson and said, “I am not going to allow a dog to keep me from being used by my God. I am not going to allow a dog to steal my trust in my God. Nobody removed that German Shepherd. Mrs. Williams got to the place where she kept her eyes on her unseen Lord and was able to walk right past that very visible huge German shepherd still in the courtroom.

The courtroom was packed when the judge walked in and everybody rose and sat down, that is everyone but Mrs. Williams. This woman was strong on the inside even though she was in a place of fear on the outside. But that didn’t stop her from addressing the entire courtroom in a loud, firm voice: “I’m here!” Stevenson would go on to share, “What she was saying wasn’t that she was just physically present. She was saying, I may be old, I may be poor, I may be black, and I may even be afraid but I am here because God gave me a peace and a purpose and a clear mission to speak up about justice that compels me to stand up against injustice. It was on that day when the tide for the case turned.

If we never were afraid, if we never battled fear, why would one of God’s favorite commands to His people be, “Fear Not!” It is at those very moments when our knees are shaking and our hearts are breaking that we need to dig deep and ask the Lord to show up big to us by providing all we need for Him to work through us. Anyone can be a happy camper when everything around us goes our way. But only those who have an inside peace that passes understanding can be properly equipped to face the constant barrage of outside bullets that want nothing more to paralyze us and render us useless at just the moment God wants to make us His instruments of choice. Do you want peace of mind? Give the Lord every piece of who you are and even though nothing on the outside may be altered- who you are on the inside will never be the same again!



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