Over this past year our church women's fellowship has been walking through the fruit of the spirit. We concluded last night with peace. We had a very engaging discussion about how important it is to hold onto, protect, and fight for one's peace. When we don't have peace it can lead to degraded sleep and rest, lowered immune systems, irritability, strain on relationships, making poor choices, and many other issues that decrease our quality of life. But there is hope! No matter how far you may be be from a peaceful state, you can make changes and implement healthy habits to regain and hold onto the peace that God has provided.
1. Guard Your Thought Life. Isaiah 26:3 says You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts you. We must not allow our minds to dwell on the issues, hurts, or challenges we face. Once we have reached the limitations of ourselves it time to rest in the peace of God. That is when we know that He has it and no matter what it looks like, we can be in peace about it. No more mulling things over and over your mind, taking that "what if" scenario to bed at night. Rather, permeate your mind with the word of God: stand on it and believe it. I've spent many nights over the years tossing and turning with worry about my marriage, my finances, and fate of other people who were going through challenges. I cannot tell you how debilitating it is to lie awake, heart pounding, and thoughts racing sapping every bit of peace from you. But the power of God's word to calm and comfort is priceless. If I wake up at night these days it only to meet the Lord and bask in His presence. These days I just believe God (without any reservations) and I know if He can't do it, I surely can't do it. Therefore, I rest much better.
2. Know That It Is Only A Test. James 1:2-4, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I am results-oriented person and I like to understand the purpose for how I am spending my time. It is difficult for me to just complete a task without understanding how it fits in with a larger-scale outcome. This has helped me not to stay in my pity party mind set when trials have come. Real life trauma hurts, badly. It is easy to think that you are just being picked on for no good reason. But when I think back over the phases of my life, every single trial has made me stronger, more resilient, has healed other wounds, helped me relate to others, etc. God does not waste a hurt. So we can hold onto to our peace in every situation when we understand that it just a test meant to perfect us and make us whole.
3. Live Inside The Margins. Psalms 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. I was reading a book by Joyce Meyer and she used the phrase, "live inside the margins". This really struck me because my life is so busy in this season that I am often rushing from one thing to next. I sometimes make it through a week and find it hard to remember the significant events within each day, it is all a blur. I have to force myself to stop and slow down because I know life is not meant to lived in that way. I want to live to the fullest not wearily move through life in a hazy state of mind. So I find that I have to stop trying to fit everything into some ridiculous schedule. A schedule so tight that there is no breathing room, because that is when I get robbed of peace. Life does not stay on schedule. I can't always be one traffic jam or lost shoe away from catastrophe. We must leave room on both sides of the margins of life to meditate, ask the Lord to order our day, as well as building in time for a child's meltdown, or a back up on route 66. The common everyday things we face should not send us into rage or mild depression. We must hold onto peace on a daily basis by making realistic choices about what we can and cannot accomplish in 24-hour period.
Finally, we must always take comfort in knowing that when we are alive in Christ, we win! John 16:33 tells us These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.