So far I was determined not to write a “corona” blog text. But after sitting at a blank screen for half an hour yesterday, I changed my mind. Because today’s topic does have to do with the times we currently live in. Undoubtedly, I had several subjects to write about but none of them felt right for today.
Toolbox for peace of mind
Let me be clear on this: It is absolutely not my intention to voice any political opinion on anything that’s going on these days. On the contrary, I do my best to comply with Paul’s admonition to Timothy:
“Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts.”Paul, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (TPT)
You could easily sum up today’s text in one simple word: Peace. And with that I mean the peace of the bible, namely the so-called “shalom” peace. Don’t worry, this won’t be an excessive bible study! It is my goal to always provide hands on support to the community. However, this topic needs a solid foundation. And that is only found in the Word of God.
I’ll promise you this: By the time you’re done reading you’ll have a toolbox for your everyday life. I’d love for you to make it through these times with real peace in your heart.
Long before “covit19” hit us I had started a daily routine to check on my level of peace. I’d take a moment here and there and honestly ask myself this question: “Am I at peace or am I worried and fearful?” To this day, I continue to do so, especially since my life motto stems from the wise old king Salomon:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
When I realise that anxiety is creeping in or I’m clenching my jaws I know it’s high time for a heart check. Unlike the one at the cardiologist, mine is very quick and easy. Bill Johnson described it like this in one of his sermons on peace: “Let’s say it’s 11AM and I get all anxious and stressful. I then ask myself: What happened? Where did I leave my peace? Because I had it! It’s mine. It’s in my possession. I just have to find out where I dropped it!” (Listen to the complete sermon on peace here – highly recommend it!).
Help! A pandemic!
When February came around it became obvious we had to expect something seemingly scary. I could sense that my peace would have to stand a test. Early on during the lockdown, my husband and I agreed and decreed over our family that we would not lose our peace. We sat down with the kids, took communion and explained to them that whatever would come our way, we would work to stay at peace. But what peace exactly is this? One that is not impressed with a pandemic. It’s the peace of God. The one that surpasses all understanding. And this peace you will only find in God and through God.
Recently I’ve read numerous well-meant posts and texts that quote peace scriptures from the Bible. And I love that so many are turning toward or back to this source of wisdom and truth. What disturbs me though is that many of these quotes only include “God will give you peace.” and “Peace and Joy”.
Seek and pursue!
But I’d like to point out this: The shalom-peace that the bible talks about comes with conditions. You can’t just leave the first part of a scripture out. Doesn’t quite work like that. You can compare it to the so-called “IF-THEN-STATEMENT” used in computer programming. I’ll explain what I mean in a moment.
How then do I obtain this unshakeable peace that carries me through turmoil and crises? Let’s look at David in Psalms 34:14 where he commends us to “depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it“. He makes it clear that peace is not just happening by coincidence. To seek and to pursue are very active words and they make it sound like a treasure hunt to me.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”Eleanor Roosevelt
Coming back to the “IF … THEN” statement mentioned earlier, let me show you what I meant. I’ve put together five questions that I use myself during my “heart check” moments. Consider them my treasure hunt map.
Treasure hunt map
- Do I believe in God and do I trust Him with everything?
- Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)
- Do I say YES to the lordship of Jesus Christ (not just once but in everyday life)?
- Philippians 4:7 “Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” (CEV)
- Does the Holy Spirit live and reign in me?
- Galatians 5:22 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (NLT)
- Do I read my bible and do I actually do what it tells me to (obedience)?
- Psalms 119:165 “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” (NLT)
- Leviticus 26:3-6 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, (…), then I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.” (NLT)
- Do I give thanks, roll all my worries unto Jesus and praise God in every circumstance?
- Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (NKJV)
- Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (NKJV)
Now, that’s quite a list. Ok, maybe this did turn out to be a bit of a bible study. But you know what? You can study and research all the stuff you want on a certain topic. It doesn’t mean anything will change unless you actually apply this knowledge. I did promise you a toolbox. It’s not rocket science at all. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s see.
Good morning, Jesus
Let me ask you this: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you scroll through all kinds of social media content? Do you watch the news? Or does the Word of God have the highest priority in your life? Join me as I walk you through a typical morning at my house.
Everyone is still sound asleep. I crawl out of bed and make my way to the kitchen. I get the coffee machine going and on my way to the bathroom I stop. Every morning. Because on one of the wood posts that decorate our kitchen hangs a calendar. But it doesn’t just tell the date. It’s a daily devotional tear-off calendar. It’s the so-called Moravian Daily Texts. Every morning I read one scripture from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. I ponder the words, say “Good Morning, Jesus”. Then I go and brush my teeth.
In the course of one day I pass by these scriptures countless times. And I make time to stop and reread them often. They transform my mind, change it for the better. Calm me. Nourish my inner being. The Word of God is plastered all over our apartment. I shared in more detail about that in one of my recent texts.
What’s on your diet?
If I catch myself worrying then I know I must have lost my peace somewhere during the day. Which means I must go and seek it again. One way for me to easily loose my peace is checking on the news. It just doesn’t do me any good. It’s not part of a healthy spiritual diet so to speak. As a result my mind gets restless and thoughts of “what if” start spinning around in my head. I end up on the opposite side of what God says in His Word: Fear not! Do not be afraid! Do not worry about tomorrow”
The quickest way for me to achieve the turnaround is repentance and turning off the news. Even better is opening the bible, whether the analogue version or the digital one. A great tool I’ve recently rediscovered is also a yearly bible reading plan. There are hundreds out there, this is the one I’m using.
It all boils down to this: Whatever you allow to enter your mind determines what will exit your mouth afterwards. It’s totally up to you what you look at and consume. Maybe you’ve heard of the concept “Garbage in, Garbage out”? It originally stems from computer science and mathematics but can easily be applied to all kinds of situations.
I love how Adrian Rogers words it in his article on heart health:
“If you want to know what is in your heart, just listen to what escapes your mouth. Jesus said, ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34).
As they say in the country, ‘What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.'”Adrian Rogers
Prayer, Gratitude, Worship
Here’s what’s inside my spiritual toolbox that’s labeled “PEACE”. I pray a lot, I thank God for all kinds of things throughout my day. And I sing (and dance) a lot. All of these you can easily accomplish while folding the laundry, peeling potatoes, building sand castles with the little one, vacuuming or scrubbing the toilet. Yes! Even when taking a shower, braiding my daughter’s hair or bringing the trash out I can pray, thank and sing.
Just for the record: No, I’m not the saint on cloud number nine. Far from it! Oftentimes I’m just that weary tired woman with the famous mom-bun. I get annoyed easily some days. In recent times I get annoyed very easily on many days because the four of us are crammed into this apartment trying to make it all work. But in the midst of all the chaos and the noise I try my best to recalibrate often. A quick stroll through the woods helps me to refocus. Hugging my dear husband and asking him to pray over me changes every situation every single time. More on self-care options you can find here.
By now you may have figured this out: The peace of my heart is very precious to me. And it should be to you! I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “If mommy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.
Sowing and reaping
Let’s recap. True peace doesn’t just drop from the sky. Some days I have to seek it because I lost it (haha, nice word game right here). Gratitude shifts my mind into a state of peace. Casting all my cares and worries unto Jesus by praying makes me peaceful as well. Tuning into the bible instead of social media or google news sustains my peace. Last but not least, taking some nice masking tape and sticking that postcard with a scripture on the fridge keeps the Word of God in front of me when I need it.
We reap what we sow. I want to sow peace. Into my own heart and my own family. Even more though, into my neighbours and all those around me whose hearts are in turmoil because they haven’t found Jesus yet.
“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”Amy Carmichael