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 a disappointing, failing or sparse harvest in your life, 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 destructive 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.
My Life Prior to Peace
Allow me to share a snapshot of my life prior to having God’s amazing peace. I was born to a gentle sixteen-year-old mom and an alcoholic twenty-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 my anger, bitterness and lack of caring.
One of my earliest memories of the ongoing turbulence took place when I was five years old. It was a crisp fall day and the football game was about to begin. 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 add to the celebration by making us special snacks. That week she made butter bread with hot pepper rings on it. It was one of my dad’s favorites.
I remember pulling up to the coffee table next to my dad, as we ate our hot pepper butter bread. I was full of joy to be a part of such an awaited event. I asked my dad what color our team’s jerseys were, so I would know who to root for. With that simple question he snapped his head around and started to yell at me for irritating him.
I was stunned that he was yelling at me for just trying to understand the game. His abrupt anger caused me to slowly push away from the coffee table. I took a good hard look at his face and I sadly remember thinking, He is mean! I cannot trust him. That was the day that the rock of mistrust was buried in my heart, and I determined that I could not trust my dad. I began to shut down in his presence. Soon I started to blend into the background. I stopped asking questions because I did not trust him with my heart any longer.
As a five-year-old, I had no idea that this event would begin to create a void of love and produce a stronghold of mistrust which would feed fear and loneliness. These types of wounds would later become obstacles that would affect my life for decades. They robbed me of truly living and became a barrier to 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, my dad’s negative impact along with his broken promises continued to injure my heart. Those wounds created an ache for love and a desire to be known. Being wounded, empty and numb in my teen years, led me to choose my own destructive sinful paths which caused an even greater devastation to my already grieving 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. That was the night that fear derailed my life and sorrow entangled me attempting to consume my whole being. It was a warm summer night when 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 lay 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 fiancé’s 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.” Hearing his response, my thoughts raced, and my anxious heart pounded through my chest as I contemplated the severity of his condition.
As we continued to drive in the pitch dark, I saw head lights appear from the other direction. Shockingly, both the ambulance and the other vehicle came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. 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 was 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 fiancé’s wounds were so severe that he was losing blood at an alarming rate. They needed to begin a blood transfusion in the ambulance.
When we arrived at the ER, I flung open the door and ran to the back of the ambulance. As they wheeled him out on the stretcher, I could see the hospital staff anxiously waiting for him. Thank God they gave us a few seconds to say goodbye. Focusing only on one another, I remember our eyes met and he said, “I love you!” I pressed in and assured him of my love as we reached for one another. It was a tender moment amidst total chaos.
With urgency I was told by hospital staff, “We need to get him inside!” I watched as they wheeled him away, quickly turned the bend, and he was out of sight.
Silently I stood, numb from all that was happening. I was still staring in the direction that they had taken him, when I felt an arm gently wrap around my shoulder. Without words I was led into the emergency waiting room, where I paced and continued to pray. 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 God heal him. 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. Emotionless, 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 doctor and hospital staff came out to report that he did pass away. When their words confirmed his death, the reality that he was gone, was more than my mind and heart could handle. Horrific pain gripped my heart. With no warning to myself or others, I released a loud cry “Noooo!” My reaction shocked me and everyone in the room, but I had no control of it. I could not contain my pain. Abruptly, I was told to stop crying and to listen to the doctors. They proceeded to say that he had died because his aorta had been cut near his heart, which was why he had lost so much blood.
Desperate for Peace
His death was so senseless! It was unbelievable. He was here one moment and gone the next. My mind could not believe that I had lost him. Losing him shattered my heart and the broken shards penetrated all aspects of my life.
The hours, days and years of my life following his death were continually filled and overflowing with fear. When I say I needed God’s peace, that was an understatement. In those early days, while I slept, I could forget the pain. But as my mind would slowly awaken, I would remember all that had taken place. Instantaneously, I could feel the sting of warm tears flowing down my face, as my heart would remember that he was gone. It was hard to get out of bed. I had to push myself to do daily tasks.
As I would try to face my day, fear continued to entangle me, its grip reminding me of all the negative things that had happened. It was as if my already wounded heart and mind added this tragic loss to all the other losses, past pains and sins in my life. It felt like the heaviest boulder was now upon me. That 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. She told me about a loving Savior who would meet me where I was, forgive my sins, and fill me with His Spirit. With every word that she spoke, it was as if I was breathing for the first time. She then asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior. With all of my heart I agreed. I wanted to know Him, as my Savior. As we prayed, an unspeakable joy rose up from within me. I knew I was changed. I did not just know about God, God’s Spirit now filled me! I sprang to my feet and began to leap and jump for joy.
When my friend came downstairs and saw the difference in me, she exclaimed in an accusatory voice, “What did you do to my friend!”
Her mom laughed and said, “I didn’t do anything to your friend. God did this!” She was right. God had filled my heart with joy. I walked into her home a broken mess, but God met me where I was, and I now knew He would be with me for the rest of my life.
That night I did not climb out of my pit. My God pulled me out! He came near to me and He heard my cry. He reached down into my miry pit, not concerned with how muddy I was. He pulled me out 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. My change was evident to everyone. I could not contain my newfound joy. This was the beginning of my new Christian life.
Psalm 40:1-3 (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.
Pretending to Be Whole
When I became a Christian it was awesome, and it did change my life forever. I was comforted to know that God was with me. I understood that I was forgiven but I still did not know how to be healed. I did not know how to handle my past wounds and fears, so I continued to hide them. I was unaware of what else to do. Pretending to be whole while 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!
In the years that followed, I tried to live by faith, but I was blown off course by one fear after another. I felt stuck. I despised the fact that I was such a weak Christian. I knew I could be living a victorious life, but I did not know how. I went to church every Sunday. I loved God, but the truth was that fear ruled my life, not God.
I deeply desired a peace that I could live by, but my fearful way of living continually robbed me of my peace. I felt like a failure, unproductive, weak, and ashamed of how I was living. What ifs - meaning "What if this happens or what if that happens?" - were obstacles stopping 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 answers were found in God, but I did not understand how to find them or apply them. Can you identify with some of those same feelings?
The following questions describe how I felt prior to having God’s peace. Underline any of the questions that are 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 God has promised?
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 four steps that God continually uses to keep me in His amazing peace. We will learn how to live a life full of the peace that God intends for us. It may seem impossible right now but stay the course and consider the alternative of living without the fullness of God’s peace for another month, year, or decade!
From Broken to Peace
This book is a result of my desperation to have God’s peace in my own life. For years, although I deeply desired peace, His peace was nowhere to be found. I had moments of happiness and I was happy with parts of my life, but peace—that inner calm that God promises—was missing. It is agonizing and exhausting to go through this life without His peaceful assurance.
God did not call us to live a life of failure, frustration, or fearful destruction. He has provided a way for us to live a life full of peace, faith, and freedom. He is faithful. If you have had a painful past, your heartache may cry out for you to stop this journey. Please press on. Our pain is our clue that a healing is needed. His peace is close.
Often we may even feel as if we are going through the motions of this fast-paced life, numb and without peace. We may desire peace but not understand how to receive His peace or keep it once we do have it. Now that I have experienced God’s wonderful and comforting peace as a way of life, I am compelled to share what I have learned with you.
I have broken down the process of having God’s continuous peace into four steps. I will systematically take you through the four steps of Recognize, Release, Reprogram, and Respond. I capitalize the R’s throughout the book. My hope is to make the words stand out and illuminate where we are in the process.
Living the Life of Peace
I faithfully utilize these four steps in every area of my life. God has used them to heal me and equip me to keep His peace. These truths have become my strong foundation, keeping me through the turbulent storms of life. I believe this process will help you to gain God’s peace every day.
As we journey through these four steps, we will Recognize the obstacles that have kept us from living the life of peace God intended. We will Release the barriers that confine us. We will Reprogram with truth and learn to create a harvest of peace. We will be equipped with tools to Respond faithfully in all of life’s circumstances. This way of living will cause us to overflow with His abundant fruit. I know if God can do this in my weed-ridden life, He can also help you to live a life full of His peace.
Our past does not dictate our future harvest.
When implemented, these four steps can change the trajectory of our lives. They have changed mine! Throughout this book I will be sharing my life experiences and the amazing lessons that the Lord has taught me. Here are a few topics we will be covering in this exciting journey.
Step 1 RECOGNIZE
What Peace Is and Where Peace Comes From
The Power to Keep Our Peace
The Bullies That Rob
The Impact of Our Obstacles
Step 2 RELEASE
The Great Exchange
Remember Without Pain
Come as You Are
Release and Rely: My Mom’s Story
Step 3 REPROGRAM
The Condition of Our Cup
Overwrite the Lies
Design Your Harvest
What We Feed Will Grow
Step 4 RESPOND
Hold On. Hold On Tight.
Run Your Race
We Get To
These steps will illuminate the way to live a life of peace, no matter what the circumstances. By transparently revealing my struggles and the truths that God has shown to me, my hope is to make each step come alive and be easily applied. When put into action, this process will promote transformation and help you to create a life filled with God’s continuous peace. As you implement these steps, be willing to follow where God leads. It will be worth the effort. You will experience the peace that God intends for you.
What would change in your life if you had His continuous peace? How would your relationships, marriage, parenting, work, or dreams change if your life were transformed into a life filled with peace?
What are your hopes or expectations for this book?
Throughout this amazing process, your relationship with God will deepen. I am thrilled with the transformation I have witnessed in those who have embraced the principles in this book.
I have been blessed as they explain how rich their walk with God has become.
Some of them have been Christians for decades and are only now experiencing this awesome relationship with God. They have joyously explained their newfound depth with God, and how He meets them right where they are. They have shared how strong their peace has become. When an obstacle arises, they now have the tools to deal with it and keep their peace. I have had the privilege of watching the blessings of peace unfold in their lives and impact those around them.
This book will take you there. This material does lead us to Him, and He will meet us right where we are. Thank God He will not leave us where He finds us. He has a good plan, a plan for healing and peace that will flow out of a deep walk with Him.
I am so excited about the journey you are about to begin. Know that my heart and my prayers are with you and have been with you for two decades. Over the years, when a specific fear would cause me to want to pull back, I would ask God to remind me of the ones who would one day be helped by my continuing to learn the way of peace. I found courage to face my own fears and go forward, knowing that this could help others someday. You were always on my mind and in my heart. I am so thankful that we finally get to journey together.
It has been twenty-four years since I began this process. I can honestly say I am so thankful that my younger self did not give up, give in, or abandon the process of knowing God’s peace. I would not be who I am today. My life has been changed forever!
Choose today to live the life of peace that God intends for you.
Let’s begin to impact our future with His peace! As you read, I suggest that you use a notebook or journal to write down all that the Lord will show you. I pose questions throughout the book. They will help you to capture your thoughts in the moment and to receive the most impact from this study. God is with you! His peace is close.
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.