It’s been a vintage week for guest blogs, and we’re not finished yet. The latest comes from youth worker Ruth Baillie who, inspired by our latest challenge, reflects on how it feels to embrace the peace of God… and reject the alternative.
The word conjures up an image of stillness… quietness… serenity. It’s something that most people yearn for, and spend their whole lives searching for, but a state of being which few manage to attain, and sustain.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says simply, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ To be reconciled to someone means to restore a relationship with someone or, to put it another way, to ‘make peace’ with someone. So, in other words, we are told to ‘make peace’ with God.
What’s the opposite of peace?
The absence of peace is discontentment. Unhappiness. Fear. Worry. I know this because I know what it is to reject God’s promised peace; to fight against Him, and like a stubborn child to want my own way. When we refuse to submit to God’s best for our lives, we give up the precious gift of peace that He promises to us who remain steadfast in Him. We give up the one thing that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
And what do we get in return?
In my personal experience, what we receive in place of peace are many undesirable traits… A discontented soul, always striving for bigger and better things, and never happy with what we already have. A jealous heart, always comparing oneself to others and wanting what others have. A heart full of fear and doubt: fear for the future, and doubt in God’s faithfulness and promises. And all these things together lead to an anguished soul, unhappy and bitter and never succeeding in finding contentment and satisfaction in anything, no matter how much STUFF or how many friends you have around you.
There is a reason that Paul says in Romans 8:6, ‘for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’
Focusing on the world and all its pleasures, and desiring these things above all others leads to death. Death of any form of peace, assurance, faith, and ultimately physical death. But being focused on Jesus, and living in submission to Him leads to peace and contentment, no matter what the storms of life may throw at us.
The storms of death and grief… and yet the absolute stillness and peace that enfolded itself around me, my colleagues and friends on hearing of the death of our much loved friend and colleague in a tragic accident. In amidst all the confusion, pain and grief was an undeniable sense of God’s presence. Peace. The peace that transcends understanding.
The storms of uncertainty… of not knowing what was coming post-graduation. Of worrying about the future. When I submitted my life to God, he intervened. He spoke to me clearly, saying ‘you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace.’ (Isaiah 55:12) This stilled me, and my tendency to worry was replaced with an absolute assurance of God’s hand on my life. I knew an absolute peace during a time of great change and anxiety surrounding my future. And sure enough, 3 months later, He led me in to an absolutely perfect job.
There are many other storms of life – depression, financial worries, family breakdown, illness… In amidst these storms, The Lord is stretching His hand out to you with a most precious gift. Peace. Don’t forfeit that for anything.
Be reconciled to God. For He is the ultimate peace-maker, peace-giver and peace-keeper.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.’ (Isaiah 26:3)
Ruth Baillie ia a church-based youth worker. Also an avid tea-drinker, cake eater, reader, laugher, people watcher, and aspiring blogger. Find her blog at www.rubaillie.blogspot.co.uk, or follow her on twitter @rubaillie.