Now, more than ever, we need peace as an anchor for our souls in a world with no answers or solutions for life’s anxiety.
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39
If you were honest with me, you would agree that “a great calm” is harder and harder to come by these days. Everything is speeding up, and not just the traffic on the highways. To me, all things feel accelerated and pushed with less and less margin. We need still waters, and they often have evaporated in the torrent of activity and demand that surrounds us. Our peace evaporates also with the still waters that our inner spirit man needs to survive.
Following are some quotes from Richard A. Swenson in his book Margin. A few random selections,
“The conditions of modern-day living devour margin.
Do you know families who feel drawn and quartered by overload?
Something is wrong. People are tired and frazzled. People are anxious and depressed. People don’t have the time to heal anymore.
There is a psychic instability in our day that prevents peace from implanting itself firmly in the human spirit.” (This was published in 1992 by the way, pre-Covid). Navpress
Swenson goes on to say that “marginless living causes pain.” He speaks of the focusing value of pain. When we hurt, it helps us focus on the problem and do something about it. Our society prevents this needed focus to gain our balance and create the margin we need.
“Modern-day living, however, opposes focusing. Surrounded by frenzy and interruptions, we have no time for anything but vertigo. So our pain, as it turns out, is actually an ally of sorts. In the hurt is a help. Pain gets our attention–as it does so well–and then moves us in the opposite direction of the danger. “
We are the ships at sea
Yes, we are the ships floating on the wind and the waves. We need Jesus to speak ” Peace be still! to our tempest.
I’m going to use an acrostic of the word peace to help organize a strategy to gain this peace we need and long for. Without peace, fear with its torment, and anxiety, will be our lot which is not God-given. Jesus said,
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
P–Personalize your walk with God.
Peace is available to us personally as we abide in Him. Jesus said He is the vine and we are the branches. He also said that apart from Him we would wither and can do nothing when separated. This illustrates the imperative of our connection to Him. P– also stands for prayer that takes away our anxious striving. Casting our cares onto Him, for He cares for us. Phill. 4:6,7 This prayer is a practical downloading of our burdens He wants to carry for us. The great exchange.
E–Enter Into His Rest
The fruit of peace comes as we enter the still waters and linger to abide with the “true vine,” the source of the oil and life our souls need.
“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. . .” Matthew 11:28
Jesus often withdrew for the solitude He needed to recharge and keep a strong connection with the Father. Solitude is a necessary discipline for self-care and margin development. We owe it to ourselves and must create boundaries in our lifestyles to preserve it. In one place He said to his disciples, who were on ministry overload, “Come apart to a desert place to rest. . .” Margin must be maintained in ministry or disaster can loom. We have all observed that fruit.
Why would I choose the word ambition to find peace? Because ambition out of balance steals peace. There is a place for submitted ambition, but it must first pass through the cross and be cleansed. Unsubmitted, it will steal our peace, create selfish conflicts, and harm and divide relationships. James chapter four explains this, with humble submission being the resolve. Phill 2:3-8 illustrates this principle.
Think about it for a moment, how much of your peace is stolen through ambition? How many conflicts have selfish ambition at their root? The source of the power struggle in marriage lies here. You both want the steering wheel of control, unwilling to submit to the other for your reasons. Our motives are innocent and pure until tested. Your marriage will help you with this. Every man’s way is right in his own eyes but the Lord tries the hearts.
Remember, we don’t have “bad marriages,” but we have bad dynamics. Your marriage isn’t some abstract thing, it’s who and how the both of you are functioning together. Unpack your dynamics together in humility and honesty, owning your “stuff,” and transformation will surely happen if you refuse to abandon the process. God doesn’t save marriages, he saves people, and dynamics.
C–Correct your course occasionally
Back to marginless living. Life can’t be peaceful without occasional course corrections. The reason for this is we live with the choices we make. Think about it, each time I say yes to someone I create a new reality. This reality includes following through with what I said I would do.
Pain introduces itself when I realize I have said “yes,” too many times to too many people. This hurts because we all want to have integrity and do what we said we would do. But now it’s going to cost because there’s too much on our plate. We don’t want to be flakey, but it ends up happening because of the clock and physics. It just can’t be done, unless we correct our course.
You already know the answer. You simplify and downsize. Easier said than done, but necessary nonetheless. Two people in a couple of weeks recommended the same book to me. I felt an urgency to get it so I did. It’s called Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. It’s all about the endings that need to happen in life that are normal and how we resist making them. I highly recommend the book. It’s helping me end 35 years of contracting so I can retire and do this.
Simply put, you have to get some margin and breathing room back into your own life and your marriage. This will require making some needed endings.
Just Say No!
It’s easier to endure guilt for a moment by saying no than suffer the consequences of saying yes at the wrong time. It’s harder for a pleaser to say no. The pleaser must go to the cross and the hero rescuer must die or you will live with the pain of overcommitment. I’m loved unconditionally, not based on how I perform for others or God.
Tell the Truth
We’re supposed to speak the truth in love. I have found most people to be reasonable and extend grace when I tell the truth about what I can or not do. I always feel better when I communicate the truth to others. God honors this and helps us when we do it. Make the phone call, beg off if you can. It has more integrity than not coming through and saying nothing. Make the call. You’ll feel better and peace will come.
We aren’t superhuman, and disappointing others is necessary for a needed course correction to gain back lost margin. We create our own storms and waves much of the time, and our peace may be found in some needed course corrections.
How could exercise have anything to do with peace? The answer lies in the Kingdom conflict all humanity is engaged in. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then satan is the prince of torment. 1 John 4;18 says, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment.
This indicates there is a battle for our minds and the operation of fear that tries to involve our thoughts and emotions. We know of the temptations to lust, pornography, dependencies, and hate. These all seek to addict, imprison, and torment. Peace comes as we defeat these things.
Exercise your Faith
James 4;7 says, Therefore submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. To resist means you aren’t going to agree with the devil. You are going to disagree with him and tell him to get out of your mind and thoughts. You aren’t going to agree with his plan for your life, but God’s plan.
Engage in Spiritual Warfare
Ephesians 6:10 says Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes,) of the devil.
This doesn’t mean we are thinking about the devil or shouting at him all the time. We use the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. We speak the word and raise the sword against the devil as Jesus modeled in his wilderness temptations. “It is written…” We focus on Jesus, but we are instructed to put on whole armor of God and use it to resist the devil. There are battles that must be fought and devils that must be resisted if we are to secure our peace.
Guard your heart
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Prov. 4:23 Msg.
In summary, Peace will come as we,
Personalize our walk with God
Enter into His rest.
Ambition Submitted to the Cross
Correct your course occasionally
Exercise your faith, engage in spiritual warfare, and guard your heart.
May God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you. May the Lord be merciful to you and give you peace. My prayers go to all who read these words. Pray for me and the continuing “Hope for Happily Ever After” book project in progress. Thanks for reading. Dan XO