“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27 NIV
“On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said,
Peace be with you!”
John 20:19 NIV
Some days my thoughts get the best of me. When I begin to think about the unknown it is easy to get anxious. Sometimes just for a minute or two, I take my eyes off of Jesus. When I do, that opens my mind up to all sorts of worst case scenarios. When I begin to focus on my circumstance I forget that God has a plan for my life. Satan is always lurking in the bushes of my hearts garden waiting for this exact moment to jump out in front of me and tell me I have plenty of reasons to be worried and concerned. He is quick to point out that if God loved me he would allow me to know what is ahead. Satan suggests that God hides the future from my eyes because the circumstances ahead are negative. Satan also suggests that worry is normal and is to be expected and embraced by someone who is as uninformed as I seem to be.
This day the Holy Spirit has checked me regarding this type of thinking. Still, I’m not sure I can work my way through this fear that is creeping into my mind unless I make a deliberate trip to the garden. So to the garden I must go.
The moment I enter the garden gate I began to feel the love of my Father. Still troubled I decide to walk the pathway hoping to clear my head of these negative thoughts. As always, the flowers are beautiful, the aroma is sweet, just like Jesus, and the sounds of the garden begin to fill my heart with joy. On one hand I am experiencing joy, but still I am tightly griping fear in the other. Walking deeper into the garden I discover a stream I had not seen before. I decide this will be a good spot for rest and spiritual refreshment.
As I study this beautiful little stream I feel the spirit of peace hovering over my being. It’s as if it is there for the taking, yet I am unable to open my gripped hand and grasp on to this aura of peace. The peaceful stream skips across the rocks and spills over onto the next rock in a joyful and playful pattern that is repeated over and over again. Then the Master Gardner chooses this moment to make himself visible to me as he peeks around from behind a large oak tree.
Jesus begins to speak. “Paula, take a lesson from this cool, rippling brook. It is flowing steady and sure. It bubbles and foams over with the energy of my love. It skips across the rocky road before it with sure faith and enthusiasm that will carry it down stream. It sends a peaceful message that gurgles, all is well.”
This teaching thrills my heart! I so want to live my life like this little stream, as I joyfully go about my day, skipping over the fears of life as though they are non existent. I want to feel God’s peace in a fresh new way everyday as it cools my hot anxious thoughts. I want to live this day and every day steady and sure knowing that God’s plan for my life will give me both a hope and a future. I want God’s love to bubble up inside me and fill me with the energy that comes from his love. I want my life to encourage others instead of being held hostage by Satan’s fear.
I decide that now might be a good time to move closer to the edge of the stream. Maybe if I scoot to the edge I will have the courage to take off my shoes and get my feet wet! So I move closer to the edge, being ever so cautious. And in a moment of reckless faith I pull off my self-centered, anxious shoes and plunge in to the cool, clear, water of God’s amazing care. In trusting faith I begin to experience a heavenly peace that only Jesus can give.
Now Jesus moves nearer and sits down next to me. He too removes his sandals and we set for quite a while. He begins to bask in my trust and I begin to relax in his peace. Then Jesus speaks. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I am reminded that after the resurrection of Jesus he appeared to his disciples who were huddled together behind a locked door of fear. Their circumstances had gotten the best of them. Their Lord had died. They were alone. They were grieving. They were fearful that they too would be arrested and killed. Then the unbelievable happened. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you!” No more than the stone at the entrance of the tomb could hold him in the grave; neither could the locked doors of fear keep him away from those he loved. Jesus simply appeared in their presence. All they had to do was look up, see him, and believe in what was unbelievable. Jesus loved them, he cared, and he desired to be in their presence.
On this day when my own troubling fear was about to get the best of me, Jesus simply appeared by my side and whispered to me, “Peace be with you!” This was not a formal greeting or a casual greeting of “hello, how ya doing?” No, this was Jesus’ words of blessing to me because he loves me. Those words that were spoken to the disciples so many years ago are still relevant and comforting words for us today. We too can embrace those words with confident faith in the knowledge that God faithfully goes before us in all things regardless of how we view our circumstances.
Jesus is no longer with us physically but he is able to fill us with his peace. Not the type of peace the world knows, like good health, plenty of money, or a peaceful world, but rather it is a peace that surpasses our human understanding, no matter what lies ahead. The future may be unclear. But the peace of Jesus is real and available. Our part is simply to release our fear into thin air and open our hand and reach out to receive the peace Jesus desires that we experience.
- Is there something in your life that filling your mind with anxiety and gripping your heart with fear?
- Have you considered the possibility that you may need a trip to the garden?
- Do you find Jesus’ words in John 14:27 and 20:19 to be comforting?
- Will you open your hand of fear and joyfully accept his peace?
I confess that some days I get off the path that leads to your peace. I begin to focus on that which is in my face or I begin to fear what may be in my future. Forgive me when I get side tracked and open myself up for Satan’s lies of deception. Jesus, today I choose to give you my fear of ____________________. I know that you will always be more than enough. You are my helper, my sustainer, my refuge, my shelter, and my help in time of trouble. You are my rock, my fortress, and my strong tower of strength. You are the lifter of my head today and my hope for tomorrow. You are my joy and you are without a doubt my peace. I bow in humble gratitude today because I know you have my future all laid out in a perfect plan that will not leave me without hope. I am so thankful for your words that remind me that you have left me with your precious gift of peace.
It is in your name I pray. Amen.