4 Steps to Living the Life of Peace
2 Thessalonians 3:16 AMP
Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in every way [that peace and spiritual well-being that comes to those who walk with Him, regardless of life’s circumstances]. The Lord be with you all.
What if I told you that you can design a harvest of peace? What if you found out that you can learn how to uproot your disappointing, failing or sparse harvest and plant a plentiful harvest full of continuous peace? Would you be interested in finding out how?
Throughout this book we will learn how to design and cultivate a harvest of peace. Our fears, doubts, mistrust, and insecurities are like rocks, weeds, and debris that hinder good fruit from growing and thriving. This creates a sparse or negative harvest. Thank God, our current harvest does not dictate our future harvest.
When I first began this journey for peace, my harvest was a mess! In my childhood, many unhealthy seeds were planted. My alcoholic dad had planted harsh, rude, unkind, and mean seeds that brought forth a harvest of mistrust, anger, suspicion, and a lack of confidence. There were many seeds of loneliness and broken promises that were planted in my heart which affected every area of my life. This produced an ache for love and a desire to be known. All of this led to my own sinful sowing which caused an even greater destructive harvest.
Allow me to share a snap shot of my life prior to having His peace. I was born to a gentle 16-year-old mom and an alcoholic 20-year-old dad. Growing up with an alcoholic is tumultuous. The freedom to be myself was suffocated in the presence of a manipulative and violent father.
All creativity subsides and happiness hides when fear takes a front row seat. Doubt and anxiety were the glasses that I wore to view the world. Suspicion, mistrust and loneliness were my constant companions. As I grew-- so did anger, bitterness and lack of caring.
My earliest memory of one such event took place when I was five-years-old. It was a crisp fall day and the football game was about to start. This was a weekly big event for my dad, and this week I was going to join in. I was excited because our home would be filled with lots of cheering and yelling at the players. My mom would make it special with snacks. This particular week she made butter bread with hot pepper rings on it. It was one of my dad’s favorites.
I remember pulling up the coffee table next to him, as we ate our hot pepper butter bread. I was full of joy to be a part of such an awaited event. Trying to be a part, I asked my dad what color our team’s jerseys were, so I knew who to route for. With that simple question he snapped his head around as he started to yell at me for irritating him.
I was stunned that he was yelling at me because I was just trying to understand, so that I could join in with the fun. His abrupt anger caused me to slowly push away from the table and I took a good hard look at his face and I sadly remember thinking, “He is mean! I can never trust him.” This was the day that the rock of mistrust was buried in my heart, as I learned that I could not trust my dad. I began to shut down in his presence. Soon I started to blend into the back ground and not ask any questions because I did not trust him with my heart any longer.
I had no idea as a five-year-old that this event would begin to create a void of love and produce a stronghold of mistrust which would feed fear, anger, and loneliness. I did not realize that these types of wounds would become obstacles that would affect my life for decades and rob me of true life and God’s peace.
When we are not able to trust those, who are closest to us we naturally have a hard time trusting God and trusting others.
Throughout the years many negative seeds and broken promises were planted in my heart. All of which invaded every area of my life and produced an ache for love and a desire to be known. Being wounded, empty and numb in my teen years, led me to choose destructive paths that caused an even greater devastation to my already wounded heart. I did not know how to deal with my pain, so I tried to hide it. As the wounds entered my heart, I would place a boulder over the entrance attempting to keep the pain from erupting and making its way to the surface.
But there was not a boulder big enough to cover the explosion of pain that was about to take place when I was 19 and engaged to be married. This was the night that fear derailed my life and sorrow entangled me attempting to consume my whole being.
That warm summer night I walked into a graduation party with my fiancé, and we left by ambulance with him clinging to life. He had been stabbed multiple times when a senseless fight broke out.
I remember in the ambulance as they were trying to run an IV into his arm, he laid moaning and tried to resist their prodding and poking. From the front seat, I was able to remind him that they were there to help and that he needed to cooperate with them. He seemed to calm down just by hearing my voice.
The ambulance driver was relaying my fiancés vital signs over the radio. After he finished I asked, “Is that good?” He looked at me and hesitantly shook his head and softly said, “No.” As we drove in the pitch dark, I saw head lights appear from the other direction and in the middle of the road both the ambulance and the other vehicle came to a complete stop.
Shockingly, the passenger from the other vehicle ran to the back of the ambulance, flung open the doors and jumped in carrying a handheld cooler. As quickly as we stopped, we began to speed to the hospital once again.
Questions poured from within me, “What just happened? Why did we pick up that man? Who is he and what was he carrying?” I learned that the person who entered the ambulance was carrying a cooler full of bags of blood. My fiancés wounds were so severe that he was losing blood at an alarming rate. They had to begin a blood transfusion in the ambulance.
When we arrived at the ER, I jumped out of the door and watched as the staff was anxiously waiting for him. They immediately wheeled him out of the ambulance. Thank God they gave us a few seconds to say good bye. Focusing on one another only, I remember our eyes met and he said, “I love you!” I immediately conveyed my love for him as we reached for one another. It was a tender moment amidst total chaos. They then said, “We need to get him inside”. I watched as they quickly turned the bend and he was out of sight.
Silently I stood numb from all that was happening. Someone then led me to the waiting room where I paced as I continually prayed. I watched as hospital workers ran with those small coolers to and from the ER room. In continuous prayer, I cried out to God asking that he be healed. During my frantic prayer, a sensation so strong comforted me. I felt like I knew that his Spirit had lifted and that he was on his way to heaven. It was as if I could sense his departure. Somehow, I felt comforted.
It was then that I lost the desperate feeling that I had to pray. Numb, I just sat quietly. That was when I noticed, one by one, those coming from the ER who were once running, were now walking with their heads hung low. I assumed that what I felt was true. He was gone. Still in shock, I sat in silence.
It was a while before the doctors came to tell us that he did pass away. My reaction shocked me and everyone in the room. Though I had felt that I knew he had passed, the reality of that being true was more than my mind and heart could handle. With no warning to myself or others, from the depths of my heart and soul, I released a loud cry “NOOOO!!!” I startled everyone in the room, but I had no control of it. When I heard their words which confirmed his death, it was as if I could feel the depths of my love being violently ripped from my chest and I could not contain the pain. Abruptly, I was told to stop crying and to listen to the doctors. They preceded to tell us that he died because his aorta was cut near his heart.
Earlier that evening at the graduation party, what seemed to be nothing, escalated into one of the guys pulling out a large knife and then using it to stab my fiancé in his chest, multiple times. It was so senseless. It was unbelievable. He was here one moment and gone the next. Losing him shattered my heart and hurled shards of glass that would try to greatly penetrate the rest of my life.
The hours, days and years that followed his death were continually filled and overflowed with fear. When I say I needed God’s peace, it was an understatement. In those early days, while I slept, I could forget the pain but as my mind would begin to awaken, I would remember all that had taken place. As my heart recalled the reality that he was gone, I could feel the sting of warm tears flowing down my face. It was hard to get out of bed. I had to push myself to do daily tasks.
Once I was awake fear continued to entangle me, its grip reminded me of all of the negatives. It was as if my already wounded mind and heart added this tragic loss to all of the other losses in my life. It felt like the heaviest boulder was now upon me. This was when I hit the bottom of the pit I was in. The weight of the sorrow that I carried was so heavy. I knew I needed help. I knew I could not live like this, so I cried out to God.
Five weeks after I lost my fiancé, I visited a friend. Her mom was so sensitive to my pain. She knew how broken I was, and she lovingly began to share her faith with me. With every word that she spoke, it was as if I was breathing for the first time. As we prayed, an unspeakable joy rose up from within me. I think she finished her prayer, because I couldn’t sit still. I stood and began to leap and jump for joy.
That night I did not climb out of my pit, my God pulled me out! He came near to me. Like in Psalm 40, He heard my cry. He reached down into that miry pit, not concerned with how muddy I was. He pulled me from the pit and forgave my many sins. He set my foot on a solid Rock and put a new song in my mouth, one of praise to my God. I was filled with His Spirit. Everyone knew it. I could not contain it. This was the beginning of my new life with God.
Psalm 40:1-5 AMP
I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear [with great reverence] And will trust confidently in the Lord. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not regard the proud nor those who lapse into lies.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of your wonders, They would be too many to count.
When I became a Christian it was awesome, and it did change my life forever. However, I did not know how to deal with my past wounds and fears. I felt like I was crawling through the dark. I was saved but bound by fears and doubts. My relationship with God was shallow. Like many, I tried to hide my destructive harvest. I tried to hide the hurts and pains from my past. As a new believer, I did not know what else to do. Pretending to be whole when I was really broken produced no peace in my life. It only fed and fueled my fears and insecurities. They were permitted to grow wildly!
I tried to live by faith, but I was blown off course by one fear after another. I felt stuck and I despised the fact that I was such a weak Christian. I knew I should be living a victorious life, but I did not know how. I went to church every Sunday. I loved God, but the truth is fear ruled my life, not God.
I deeply desired a peace that I could live by, but my fears and indecisiveness continually robbed my peace. They made me feel like a failure, unproductive, weak, and ashamed of how I lived my life. “What ifs” were used as an obstacle to stop my forward progress. I felt far from God, and far from His purposes. I was exhausted. I always felt like I was not good enough. I knew my answer would be found in God, but I did not understand how to find it or apply it. Can you identify with some of those same feelings?
Are any of the following questions true for you?
Are you tired of allowing fear to run your life?
Does the threat of “What if” impact you as though it is a truth?
Does the bully of fear try to change your direction?
Are you exhausted from the indecisive battles over everyday decisions?
Do you feel far from God?
Do you feel far from His purposes in your life?
Are you far from the peace that He desires for you to live by?
Are you exhausted from trying to control situations?
Do you feel overwhelmed, insignificant or not good enough?
Are you fed up with living a life that does not reflect the glory of God as it could or should?
If you answered yes, to any of the above questions, then journey with me. I will walk you through the steps that God has used to keep me, in His amazing peace. We will learn how to live the life of peace that God intended for us. It may seem impossible right now but stay the course and consider the alternative of living without God’s peace for another month, year, or decade!