“God wants to wean us from depending on earthly circumstances for peace.”
I read that statement yesterday in a little book I found on my desk the other day. I don’t even remember who sent it to me or when. It is called On Being Led by the Spirit written by David Morsey. This simple booklet contains a lot of profound counsel on shifting our attention away from the distractions of this world to help us discern better the voice of the Spirit. The one I quote above got me musing on many things yesterday as I was preparing to fly to Virginia today and then hop over to Maryland the following weekend. (If you want to catch up with me there, you can see my Travel Page for details.)
So often, we pray for peaceful circumstances or for a peaceful feeling to fill us from nowhere and are disappointed when those prayers aren’t answered. What God has in mind is drawing us so close to him that he holds our hearts at rest no matter what we’re facing. We are never alone and never without a way through the worst that life can throw at us. And, when he becomes our peace, no circumstance can steal it.
That got me thinking about some other things throughout the day yesterday:
- If I look for peace in my circumstances, I will not have his peace when bad times come.
- If I look for him to provide the circumstantial outcomes I desire, I will fall victim to any deception that comforts me rather than seeing what better options he has in mind.
- If I look for his wisdom in what I already know, how can I grow to know him better?
- If I look for validation from what others think of me, I am owned by anyone willing to lie about me.
- If I am concerned with appearances, I won’t be able to see what’s true.
- If I only love people I deem worthy of it, I won’t love the people who need it most.
There is no such thing as the right place, the right job, the right calling or ministry. I can be happy or unhappy in all situations. I am sure of it, because I have been. I have felt distraught and joyful in situations of abundance as well as poverty, in situations of popularity and anonymity, in situations of success and failure. The difference was never based on the situation itself, but always on my state of mind and heart. When I knew I was walking with God, I always felt happy and at peace. When I was entangled in my own complaints and emotional needs, I always felt restless and divided.
The abundant life is not having all we want in this age, but in having him regardless of what this age throws at us—the peace that is incomprehensible given the challenges I might be in, the joy that runs deeper than my preferences, and the courage that comes from a greater source than our own strength. And what a great field of learning this gives me. When I don’t have peace, I can ask him to teach me how to find my refuge in him. When my best wisdom fails me, I can ask him to show me his. When I’m fearful or angry, I can learn how to lean into his goodness and know that I’m safe no matter what might come.
Can you imagine what a people like that would offer the world?