Many years ago I spent a long ten years searching for what I thought would make me happy, wandering away from the Christian principles I had been taught, doing my own thing, as we say. And after that ten-year search, I was the most miserable, unfulfilled person you can imagine. In spite of career success and many blessings, I was not in any way at peace. That’s because I was not walking in obedience to God’s Word and I was totally self-focused and determined to run my own life. I mistakenly thought that doing it “my way” would bring the happiness and peace I so longed for.
How wrong I was. But I remember that when I finally came to the end of myself and turned back to God for forgiveness and restoration, the prayer I prayed was, “God, I’ll do anything you want me to do, I’ll be anything you want me to be, if you’ll just give me peace.” It was that peace that passes understanding which was sorely missing in my life, and I so longed to be at peace with God and with myself. I found that peace by giving it up—by letting go of the control of my life and declaring that God was God in my life from that point on.
That was many years ago, and I’ve been walking in the peace of God since then. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve been peaceful every minute since that prayer, but it means that I began to learn how to live in the peace that Jesus gives me. There are still times when I lose it—times when I don’t practice what I know to be truth. But God graciously and gently restores me and brings me back to the basic truth that the peace I long for is found in Jesus Christ and in obedience to him.
That is unshakable peace—peace that cannot be destroyed regardless of the circumstances because it is not dependent on circumstances. It is dependent on my relationship with Jesus Christ; he is my peace and he never leaves me or forsakes me. So, that peace is mine regardless of what’s going on around me or how I feel or whether I’m in good times or bad times. That is unshakable peace.
I find it very interesting that peace is listed in Ephesians 6 as a piece of our spiritual armor. It says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Why do you suppose we are told to put peace on our feet? At first you’d think it would be better to put peace on as a breastplate to cover our heart—peace in our heart. But no, we’re told to put peace on our feet.
Here’s how I look at it. Have you ever tried to get through a day wearing shoes that hurt your feet? Is there anything more miserable? Seems like you just have to quit if your feet are hurting, if the shoes don’t fit well.
Think about the boots that people in the army wear. Those shoes are designed to be comfortable and do the job no matter what the conditions are. If you’re marching in the hot desert, those army boots keep your feet from scorching; in the snow, they keep them from freezing; on rocky, rough paths, they protect them from cuts and bruises. With those boots on, you’re prepared to keep going no matter what the circumstances are.
When we wear the shoes of peace, we can keep going regardless of our circumstances. It’s that peace of God, which is described as passing all our understanding. Have you ever experienced that kind of peace, where you knew when you looked around you that you ought to be in panic mode, but instead you’re peaceful—incredible, unreasonable peace? When we wear the shoes of peace, we have peace whether it makes sense or not.
You need to make sure you put those shoes on every day, especially when you’re under lots of pressure. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He Himself—Jesus Christ—is our peace…” Peace is a person—it’s Jesus. You just need to focus your mind on the person of peace, Jesus Christ. It’s really important to put on the shoes of peace each day, because then you’ll know peace regardless of the circumstances.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:10-11 that the person who intends to love life and see good days must seek peace and pursue it. You have to go for it. It doesn’t just come like a blanket and settle upon you when all the circumstances are just right. It comes when you pursue it. Again in Romans 14:19 Paul says “Let us pursue the things which make for peace…”
It won’t just happen. You have to discipline yourself to stop at those panic points, and talk to yourself and to the Lord. Even in the midst of your workday, find a place you can get alone for one minute or five minutes for a peace break. Say out loud, “Lord, you will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is fixed on you. I choose to fix my mind on you. I put on the shoes of peace so that I can keep going, regardless of what’s going on around me.”
Jesus is the supreme example of peace in the midst of pressure. People were always crowding him, trying to talk to him, trying to touch him. He had a hard time finding any space or time for himself. He was constantly under pressure. But I notice that no matter how busy he was or how full the calendar seemed to be, he found time to be alone with God. I read something by R. A. Torrey once, which I wrote in the front of my prayer journal and to which I frequently refer. Let me read it:
“Some people are so busy that they find no time for prayer. Apparently the busier Christ’s life was, the more He prayed. Sometimes He had no time to eat, sometimes He had no time for needed rest or sleep, but He always took time to pray; and the more the work crowded the more He prayed.”
Lots of times when our schedules get very full, and the pressure starts to come in on us, the first thing we sacrifice is our time with the Lord. I find that’s the biggest reason I lose my peace, when I’m too busy to spend time with Jesus. I think that’s true of lots of us who are Christ-followers. When you don’t spend time with the Prince of Peace, when you’ve failed to go to the source of peace, then you’re left to face life’s pressures on your own and that usually means you lose that peace of Christ which you desperately need, especially when life gets very hectic.
What a silly thing for us to do as Christians. Here we have available to us the fountainhead of peace. Here we have the God of all peace ready to heal our frazzled nerves and bring calm in the midst of chaos. But foolishly we don’t go to him. “We’re too busy. He’ll understand. Something has to give.”
That’s a very foolish economy. Believe me, this is a lesson I must continually re-learn. I remember one particular period of time when the pressures and deadlines were great, and so the prayer time was minimized and sacrificed for a few days. In his oh-so-gentle way, God showed me that when I sacrifice prayer time to relieve pressures, I do just the opposite—I increase my pressures. He said, “Spend time with me, draw on my strength. You need me now more than ever. And I’ll take the remaining time and make it stretch to meet the responsibilities.”
Your lack of peace may be because you’ve sacrificed time with the Prince of Peace. Sorry, but it just won’t work. Like me, you’re going at it backwards. Give God the time, and see how he stretches it for you.
Probably the best testimony you and I can have in our hectic worlds is to demonstrate peace in the midst of a hectic environment. I have a dear friend who came to know Christ as her Savior because she kept observing one coworker who was peaceful in a chaotic work situation, and she decided she wanted what he had. She wanted peace.
That’s why I think the theme for our Annual Weekend Getaway this April is so right—Unshakable Peace. When you have it and you live it, you not only bring calm and contentment to your own life, but you shed the peace of Christ to those around you. You become a light in a dark world—in a world longing for personal peace.
One person wrote this after attending last year:
“God brought me to the conference after being unemployed for a year. I just got a new job last month, and the conference came just at the right time as I am in a new season and trying to be a light at this new company. I met wonderful people, great ladies in the faith, with great stories of faith. I’m so thankful to have met them! God in his infinite wisdom and perfect timing is amazing. To God be the glory.”
It’s testimonies like this that convince me God uses these weekend getaways to do amazing things in the hearts of those who attend. And as this woman says, a great part of the blessing is the women you meet and their encouraging stories of faith.
Our getaway is scheduled for April 21–23, 2017, and we meet in a lovely hotel in the Chicago suburbs. Women come from across the country for this time of spiritual renewal. I’d love for you to join me and enjoy the fellowship of these special women, the inspiration of our speakers, the time of worship with our musicians, the lovely accommodations and good food—and set this weekend apart for God to speak to you and meet your particular need.