Why We Need to Make Peace with Pursuing Peace
My morning routine during the quarantine has become my otium sanctum, my holy leisure.
I wake up early, get some caffeine, and drive to this little spot overlooking a lake nearby.
I park in a shady spot and read, pray, and journal through the cares of my day.
But one day, a few weeks ago, that peaceful start to my day, got seriously tested.
My husband called and told me our biggest monthly client canceled his contract because he’d been furloughed due to the coronavirus.
And just like that, my peaceful morning, and my peaceful state-of-mind were completely thrown off balance.
Finding Peace in Your Problems
My mind raced through the implications of this loss, and what I needed to do to fix it, as I drove home.
But God, in his tender way, gently reminded me of the verse I had just put on my letter board in the kitchen.
“You keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”Isaiah 26:3
Perfect peace comes from perfect trust.
Do you often respond to trouble by wanting to do something about it?
I want to fix the issue, negotiate the contract, hustle more, or change things in order to avoid the uncomfortable place of having to trust.
Trusting means I have to look outside of my own resources, and if I’m being honest, I don’t like having to do that.
Except, this is very often the reason trouble comes to us in the first place.
It weans us off of self, and unto a single-hearted pursuit of more of him.
How many times have I reluctantly handed over my trust, only to see him work it out beautifully on my behalf?
Maybe a gazillion times, at least.
We’re even given this radical command not to worry.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
The peace of God, that surpasses all human comprehension or reason, is there to guard your heart from wandering, and your mind from doubting.
That is peace the world can’t touch, no matter what troubles come our way.
Expecting Peace in the Process
We know there’s peace in the midst of problems for those who are in Christ Jesus.
But there’s also a glorious peace and rest available to us when we’re “in process.”
Being “in process” is that uncomfortable space being between two places.
You’re not where you were, but you’re not where you want to be either.
Our peace is threatened a lot when we’re in process.
The squeeze comes to us in feeling rushed, discontent, and impatient to move on to something else.
We experience this when…
- We compare our progress with someone else’s
- Expect to learn, grow, or change faster than is humanly possible
- Think an opportunity is going to pass us by, and therefore we need to act now
But holy leisure reminds that instead of speeding up, we need to slow down.
Holy leisure means we refuse to be pushed.
Leisure implies time, right?
Instead of rushing…maybe the thing we need most is to stop and pray?
Even while writing this blog post, I’ve had to constantly preach to my own heart to relax, and enjoy this process.
My tendency is to want to magically appear at the other end of the work. (Without the battle scars to prove I had to work to get there.)
Do you ever feel that way too?
- You want to be on the other side of the trial
- You want to be at the end of the coronavirus madness (Amen?)
- You want to have already lost the weight or gained the muscle
- You want to have completed the course of study and passed all the finals
In short…we want to skip all the uncomfortable, in-process moments, and get to the good stuff.
The part where we enjoy the fruits of our labors by skipping over the labor part.
But, the definition of otium sanctum reminds us that the good stuff is in the middle too.
Otium Sanctum is the pursuit of balance in life, an ability to be at peace throughout the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, and ability to pace ourselves.
Being at peace isn’t only about having peace in the midst of the trials (although it absolutely does include that!).
It’s also about finding peace through all of the uncomfortable places of process in the in between moments of our lives.
Discovering Peace in His Purposes
I recently reread one of my favorite stories of Jesus walking on water to the disciples in the midst of a storm.
In Matthew 14, Jesus had just miraculously fed 5,000 people from five loaves of bread, and two fishes.
And in rapid-fire succession, we jump from one miraculous provision on land to a dramatic rescue at sea.
And tucked between these two incredible accounts of his deity, is this seemingly insignificant detail.
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.”[emphasis mine]Matthew 14:22
Jesus knew a storm was coming, and yet he purposely put his disciples in the boat.
Have you ever thought about that?
We tend to think the loving thing would be for God not to put us in harm’s way, but instead keep us out of the storm altogether.
But how thankful we are that the disciples went through that storm.
How much more we can know and trust Jesus because he came to the disciples on the very element of their fear, and rescued them.
And he comes to us in the midst of our storms too.
We’ve learned with Peter through the storms of life, to keep our eyes on Jesus and not on the waves.
Pursuing Peace Single-Heartedly
Pursuing peace is a big deal.
Because in it we learn that instead of having a wide-angle lens on life, a single-hearted focus on Christ supplies all that we need.
We don’t chase every sparkly headline that promises more peace, tranquility, and ease (those never live up to the hype).
We don’t try to manipulate our circumstances so that we can avoid trusting in God (because he’ll kick those crutches right out).
We stop trying to escape the uncomfortable in-between spaces in life in search of peace on the other side (because we know peace is available to us right now in Jesus).
We can say confidently, with Amy Carmichael, “Blessed are the single-hearted (those focused on Jesus) for they will find much peace.”
Be reminded today, that peace follows when we trust in Jesus.