Sunday, November 4, 2012

Keeping Peace

It's rough out there. 
Has anyone else noticed? 

There's violence in the Middle East, murder in Benghazi. crippling gas prices, and an economy that would rather mark time than march forward.  Just when you think things can't get worse, some Frankenstorm comes out of the sea, destroying homes and  ripping little children out of the arms of their mother.

I can hardly stand it.

I would turn off the TV and pretend it didn't exist if I were the kind of person who could do that, but I'm not.  Pretending never has worked for me.  I don't need pretense; I need peace. 

I don't need a regular portion of peace, either. I need a double portion. I need the kind promised in Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is fixed on You
 because he trusts in You.

  Perfect peace.

In the Hebrew, that's Shalom, Shalom. 

If I'm going to have any kind of peace at all, I'd like the perfect kind, thank you very much.  I've tried the imperfect kind, and it just doesn't have any stay power. It's hard enough to keep that kind of peace in the easy times. I certainly can't keep it in the hard ones.

That's why God doesn't tell us to try to keep it. Read the promise again.  Perfect peace isn't the kind of peace you keep. It's the kind of peace that keeps you. 

It's a keeping peace.   

Lest you think this is some sort of warm and fuzzy verse that pious Christians toss your way when they really  just don't want to hear to your problems, it isn't.  Oh, it's warm and fuzzy, but it's actually a very practical verse as well.  Isaiah not only tells us that there is such thing as a keeping peace, he tells us exactly how to get it.  According to Isaiah, it's a matter of fixing the mind. 

I know it seems trite, but stick with me here.

The front line in the battle for peace isn't the heart. It's the head. Fix the mind, he says.   The Hebrew word covers the entire intellectual framework. It includes by definition, our thoughts, our meditations, and our imaginations.

Now maybe I'm alone, but around here it's that third one that generally disturbs the peace.

Let's face it. As wonderful as an imagination can be, it can also be the worst enemy of the chronically creative. Oh, the thinks I can think... I can imagine up just about anything if I have a mind to, and I definitely have a mind to.

Folks, if it's peace we seek, we're going to have to learn to rein in our imaginations.

That may be easy for some, but for those of us with imaginations set on autopilot, it takes self-control. It does absolutely no good to tell us to put something out of our minds.  It takes a decisive plan to fix our minds on something else.

Someone else.

Fix our thoughts on Him, he says. Think about Him. Read about Him. Talk about Him. Meditate on Him. Pray, not just to Him but about Him. 

That's probably the most important one of all.

Have you ever listened to yourself pray during those peace-stealing seasons? Have you ever noticed, as I have, that you are praying as if God needs a constant reminder of the situation?

Here's a newsflash: He doesn't.

No, really. He knows. Sometimes I think we forget that. Sometimes, our minds are so consumed with "it" that "it" even consumes our prayer life.  We think the call to pray without ceasing means to pray about it without ceasing.

And we wonder why we have no peace.

Wouldn't it be infinitely more productive (and certainly more peaceful) to make an all- powerful God the focus of our prayers instead?

Yeah, I think so too.

That's because something supernatural happens when God is the focus of our prayers: He becomes the the main character in our imaginations.

And do you know what happens when God becomes the main character in our imaginations?

He changes the story.

... and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  

Comments off for Sunday


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