Cultivating a Peaceful Heart

My life has been anything but peaceful the past few weeks. It has been crazy busy as I am helping my mom get moved into a safer environment.

I had forgotten how much there is involved in a move. Especially when it is a move requiring downsizing and there is so much left in the house, so much that still needs attention.

Even so, I do not want to lose sight of recalibrating life. I need to constantly cultivate peace in my heart despite the chaos in my life. Have you been there?

Peace is such a beautiful word and such a tranquil feeling. But where can you find it? How can you live in a state of tranquility?

Colossians 3:15 says: “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts, for you were, in fact, called to it in one body.”

When life gets overwhelming, and your heart grows anxious, and fretful words stream from your lips, you soon recognize need for peace within.

Anxiety, worry, and overwhelm scream fretful words in our heads. “You’ll never get done.” “There is too much to do.” This is impossible.”

God’s Word tells us not to be anxious about anything. Instead, pray. Offer up your requests. Give thanks. And then God’s peace comes. “The peace that passes all understanding.” It makes absolutely no sense to our human minds. But this peace fills our hearts and minds, it stands guard. These are the truths of Philippians 4:6-7.

Peace also is given as we keep our minds “stayed” on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3). Perfect peace is promised. My mind is often like a bouncing ball, rambling about from one place to another. My mind needs to instead be like a tether ball, attached to the Lord, like the rope that holds the ball to the pole. When I focus my mind on Him, Who He is, and what He is able to do, as well as all He has done, new peace fills me. Feeding on His faithfulness, remembering His goodness, these can bring great peace to our hearts. My heart and mind need His perfect peace to help me find rest.

Psalm 29:11 tells us that “The Lord gives strength to His people, He blesses them with perfect peace.” What encouraging words when you are feeling weak and overwhelmed. When your body feels weak and exhausted from too much work, and your mind cannot fathom how it will all get done, the Lord promises strength and peace. He meets us in those impossible places, renewing our strength, somehow replenishing our depleted energy, and filling us with peace to calm, which in turn renews our hope.

It is too easy to fall back into the old pattern of needing to control everything and feel responsible for it all. Peace is not a by-product of a life trying to keep it all under control. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10)! But in walking the path toward recalibrating life, I need to remember to let go of control, and learn deeper trust in the One Who truly is in control, that is where true peace is found!

So with aching muscles from lifting, packing, and unpacking…with a tired mind from five hours of driving almost daily for about a week, I find rest. Not because the work is done, but because I know I am not alone in the doing. The Lord continues to faithfully provide. He knows my weariness and He touches me with His love in sweet and unexpected ways. My husband heating up dinner, Mom’s neighbor offering to rake up all of the leaves that have fallen. Another neighbor promising to get the mail, take care of the garbage and recycle containers, as well as cleaning up any snow that may come. And then there is the Christian realtor who has access to many other helpful resources. The Lord never ceases to amaze me with His goodness and loving-kindness. His mercies really are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

He knows my overwhelm, He knows my worries, He knows my neediness, and He has it all under control. He is able (Ephesians 3:20)! His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)! He meets, He supplies my needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

His peace is real, and I find rest in the hope of its constant availability. He is present with us through all of life. Pray. Keep your mind stayed on Him. Remember His faithfulness. Look at how He has been at work. Your heart can know peace in the midst of anxiety and overwhelm. He only wants us to whisper a prayer, tell Him our need.

Cultivating peace means the need to weed out worry, and choosing to focus on Him.

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Lord I Need You, I’m Afraid

Do you struggle with fear?

I know I do. I learned to be afraid of storms as a child because of the fear demonstrated by two adults in my life. I continue to struggle with this fear even after all these years.

Fear can paralyze me in an instant. A little over a year ago when I was going to have surgery and I started to read about what I had to go through, I became very anxious.  The fear and anxiety were overwhelming.

There are so many times fear can engulf our hearts, and we need only cry out, “Lord, I need You!” The Lord has many lessons to teach us in the circumstances that life brings. I remember one that occurred just prior to my surgery. I had decided to take a walk, and as I walked I was talking to the Lord about all of the fear within. I rambled on and on, hoping to somehow find some relief for the anxiety within. My thoughts were racing, my brain was conjuring up all kinds of awful possibilities. And then suddenly, “PEACE, BE STILL.” The words literally stopped me in my tracks. The raging sea of anxiety calmed immediately. How had I forgotten that God was with me? How had I overlooked the fact that He would be with me during the surgery?

How do we forget God and His great power to help us through the fearful times in our lives?

The Israelites forgot too. In Numbers 13 we learn that the Lord had instructed Moses to send spies to scout out the land of Canaan. The Israelites wer finally getting close to entering the Promised Land. So Moses followed the Lord’s instruction by sending one man from each of the 12 tribes. Before they went he gave them a list of things to evaluate as they traveled. They were to see if the people living in Canaan were strong or weak and if there were many or few. They were to check out the land and see if it was good or bad, whether it was fertile or unproductive. They were to see if the people lived in encampments or in fortified cities. And they were told to also bring back some of the fruit that grew there.

The trip took the twelve men 40 days. When they came back to give their report, of course, the men had different viewpoints regarding what they had seen. Our level of faith leads us to see the same obstacles in different ways. Ten of the men shared how daunting the large, fortified cities were and how strong the people were. When the Israelites heard this they became very riled up. So much so, that when Caleb wanted to speak he had to quiet the group down. Caleb told the group that they definitely should go and conquer the land. His idea wasn’t popular after hearing what the other men had to say. Caleb knew that the Lord would be with them and he trusted that the Lord would be their help. Yet, the other spies went on with their report causing the Israelites to fear even more as they talked about the giants of Nephilim.

When fear overtakes us it is an obvious sign that our trust is dissipating. Our trust is God diminishes. We forget the truth that God is who He has told us He is, and that He can do what He says He can do. When fear takes over the giants only increase in size and strength. Our God becomes a dwarf in comparison. Our thinking becomes skewed and all hope is lost.

Have you been there? Maybe you are there now? What insurmountable giants stand before you? Is it disease? Or an upcoming surgery? Maybe you’re in the midst of a messy divorce that causes you fear. Or is it a job loss which means a loss of income?

When we look at circumstances with faithless eyes, we see with fear all that is coming at us. When we remember God’s faithfulness and look at circumstances with trusting hearts suddenly the giants are conquerable because our God is a great God.

Deuteronomy 31:5 tells us: “Be strong and courageous, don’t be terrified or afraid of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

The Lord goes with us. He won’t leave us no matter where this life takes us. Psalm 91 promises that the Lord will deliver us. It says that we can take refuge under His wing and He will cover us with His feathers. What a beautiful picture of safety and security. The truths of the Lord’s faithfulness will be our shield of protection. We can count on Him.

Jeremy Camp’s song “The Same Power” says that the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead is the power we have access to. The Lord can calm the raging sea and I know from personal experience He can calm the anxiety and fear raging in my heart.

If you are living in fear today, remember God. Remember His loving presence, call on Him, you are not alone.