Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines peace in several ways, but this one grabs my attention:
: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
How many times each day do “disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions” race, dance, whirl, get up a head of steam, take off at light speed, and crowd my brain? Too often for me to easily admit. Take yesterday for instance.
I had sent a text to someone and I anxiously, and not so peacefully, awaited their response. It didn’t come right away. I quit looking. After an entire morning of waiting (ok, so it was really only about 3 minutes later), there was still no answer. Suddenly, I found myself on the verge of tears. My heart rate threatened to burn out the monitor on my wrist. This is ridiculous, Lynette. Get a grip on yourself, I thought. Then I recalled something I had heard earlier that morning.
I started listening to Amy Grant’s book, Mosaic, during my commute to and from work. A collection of various experiences and thoughts she has had during her life, the book remained true to it’s name, with each story standing alone in it’s own chapter. On my morning drive yesterday, she mentioned going on a vacation in the middle of nowhere with nothing but mountains, streams, and land for miles. It was supposed to be a wonderful, relaxing and calm vacation. Instead, she felt that disquiet for the entire trip, even to the point of not wanting to stay. Without re-telling her story too much, I’ll simply say she remembered a verse from the book of John in the Bible that lightened her heart and quieted her unsettled mind.
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.
Several weeks ago, I began collecting Bible verses. When I read one or remember one or just come across one that I have forgotten, I write it in my “Bible Verse Journal.” I have begun to carry it with me everywhere I go. It keeps God’s promises close at hand and it is a great way for me to focus on things other than myself and my pity. Oh yeah, and it’s opened up some pretty amazing conversations and experiences with God that I would never have otherwise had.
So there I was, driving down US Highway One and I heard this verse. I could barely keep myself from pulling out my journal and pen and writing the verse down right then and there. The Highway Patrol, however, tends to frown on drivers doing things while driving that are distracting. Instead, I waited the 3 minutes until I pulled into my parking lot at work and then wrote the verse down.
The morning began and the words, peace I leave with you rolled around in my brain. Then the text situation took place. Or rather, didn’t take place. And the accelerated heart rate and tears took over. So I took a deep breath and repeated the verse in my mind. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Just saying the word “peace” slowed my heart rate down. That statement is about as direct a statement as you’ll ever get from the Almighty. My peace. He gave me that. I continued reciting the rest of the verse.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. We already know how much trouble my heart has been giving me. But the phrase, do not be afraid really stuck a chord with me. Was I afraid? What was I afraid of? I knew the answer then. I’ve known it all along. I am just terrified of accepting it. I don’t want to. I’m like a child lying on the floor crying and pounding her fists in anger and frustration. No, I didn’t do that at work. I waited until I got home.
In all seriousness, however, I knew with certain clarity that I have been not only afraid but utterly terrified for so long. I just stood there at work, tears spilling down my cheeks and I whispered “Please, God. Give me peace!”
I took a deep breath and felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I looked at it, fully expecting it to be the text I was waiting for. It was not. It was from someone else telling me how much my blog posts have meant to her lately and how much she could relate to my struggles.
Wanna know what I did? Yep. I cried some more. I’m not ashamed of my tears. Usually. And I just looked up at the ceiling and said “thank you!” Before my head had even dropped back down, my phone vibrated again. I looked at it and almost dropped it.
Another friend, one I have known almost my entire life, texted me and said she, too, had been following my blog and was so glad to know she was not alone in her own personal battles.
Wait…what? These two women have never met, to my knowledge. But God used them both at exactly the right moment to show me he meant business. And I was no longer afraid. Their words, God’s peace, and my Bible verse journal all conspired to bring me to a point that was just short of driving me to my knees.
One thing I have really and truly begun to learn on my journey is that each step is a victory. When I set my sights on the horizon, I trip and fall flat on my face every single time. Many people along my path have told me, “One step at a time. One moment at a time. One day at a time.” I am living proof that they are right.
God’s peace truly does pass all understanding. I don’t know how he does it. But I’m so thankful that he promises to tell me as often as I need to hear it,
Peace out, man.