Living at peace with others

In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Taylor, a New York Times bestselling author, who lives on a farm in rural Georgia, recalls the night when she ventured into the hen house to gather eggs. She didn’t bother to bring a light since she had been doing this chore for years. Yet this time, as she reached for some eggs, she felt something else. She assumed it was a piece of plastic, but after repeatedly encountering the object and discovering it could move on its own, she realized it was a snake looking for dinner. It ended up being a harmless black snake, but it was a snake nevertheless.

Buried in the book of Isaiah is a verse that seems relevant for all the madness we've been experiencing. When speaking of His love for His people, in Isaiah 26:3, the prophet states that God "will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind is stayed on Him, because he trusts in Him." The Living Bible provides this translation: "He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!"

Peace is "a feeling of being safe or protected." Sounds like something we all want. With everything that has happened in 2020, how safe do you feel? What kinds of things do you worry about? How are you dealing with anxiety? Do you sleep well or are you in a constant wrestling match with your pillow? When bombarded by one challenge after another it can be difficult to find peace of mind. Some of these thoughts may be a harmless black snake, but when you're expecting to pick up an egg and grab a snake instead, your heart is likely to race like a sprinter.

Having a peaceful, easy feeling is something everyone wants, but most people don't realize that living a peaceful life is a personal choice. As stated earlier, God "will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!" We must choose to turn our thoughts to the Lord and to think on the right kinds of things. We must choose to turn to the great Physician instead of turning to things that might harm us; we must choose to believe the truth of God's Word instead of the opinions of media; we must choose to trust the One who holds tomorrow instead of allowing our thoughts to get to bent out of shape today, and we must choose to pray instead of worry. Those who turn their thoughts to the Lord are the ones who enjoy peace of mind.

Peace comes when we are on good terms with our Creator. Psalm 34:14 shows us that peace is something we need to "seek and pursue." Some think that peace of mind happens when you get away for a few days, take a vacation, eat, drink and be merry and don't sweat the small stuff. Those things may offer some temporary relief, but they are usually short-lived. Any attempt to find lasting internal peace through external means will end in frustration.

Lasting peace comes when we fix our thoughts on God. The peace of God is something uniquely different from anything the world can offer. Philippians 4:7 states that God's peace is beyond human understanding. It is like breathing in hope and reassurance in the midst of chaos. Your troubled mind can be at rest because you are convinced that your heavenly Father knows where you are and what you need.

A young man was kayaking off the coast of New England in treacherous water when he capsized and was in danger of being swept out to the ocean. He didn't have the power to fight the current, but managed to pull his cell phone out of his pocket and call his father for help. Although his father was over 3,000 miles away, upon receiving the call, his father called the nearest Coast Guard facility and within a short amount of time, a Coast Guard Cutter was rescuing his son from danger. The young man was saved because he called his father. In similar fashion, when we get into trouble, we can call on our Father for help.

The crew of the Apollo 11 flight deposited a plaque on the surface of the moon, with the motto: "We come in peace for all mankind." When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, on July 20, 1969, the astronauts enjoyed a sense of tranquility they had never known, because the moon had yet to be disturbed by the presence of humans. Humans have a way of messing things up.

It will be nice to put this year in the rearview mirror, but there's no guarantee that 2021 will be any better. 2020 has been a constant reminder of how desperately we need God and how much we want peace, but if we have no peace of mind, it's pointless to look at it from outward sources. God "will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!" The modern-day proverb says, "No God, no peace. Know God, know peace." Want that peaceful, easy feeling? Turn to the Lord, he has exactly what you need and what you're looking for.