Friday, February 10, 2017

The Pursuit of Peace

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14.

I used to consider holiness as something floating on a cloud near heaven. I believed it was an experience I would have after I had departed this world so I didn’t give it much thought. James McDonald, author of When Life Is Hard defines holiness as the absence of everything that causes turmoil, pain, restlessness and fear. Well that is certainly something worthy of our pursuit while still on this earth. It is a great discovery for me to understand that while going through my tough trials I don’t have to abandon peace. It is good news that as I suffer, I don’t have to give up on joy. The truth is that as chaos surrounds me I can walk in the perfect order of Christ. While we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our responses to the situation. We can choose faith over fear…submission over control…focus on God over fixating on the details. We can learn from God or forfeit the wisdom from God. How we experience and reconcile our trial is based on how we view God and His goals for our lives.

If you believe God exists to make you comfortable, you will find Him absent in your discomfort. If you believe God exists to make your life run smoothly, you will find Him absent when your life hits a rocky patch. If you believe God exists to make you happy, you will find Him absent when your heart is broken and your tears are flowing. But if you believe God’s goal is to make you holy, you will feel His arms around you in the center of your hardship. Through every intense, heart-wrenching moment of our trials, God’s presence will become increasingly real.’ When Life is Hard, p. 147. As we see in our verse peace is directly related to holiness, and a life without holiness will be a life without peace, hampering our ability to see God’s mercy and grace. A lack of holiness means feeling constantly worried and anxious about the future. A lack of holiness is being led around by our circumstances instead of God. A lack of holiness is marching to the cries and hysteria of the world instead living in the peaceful rhythm of the promises and truths of God.

We are going to experience trials but we do not have to give ourselves over to them. Our trials should neither define us nor should they consume us. There is one person who loves us enough, pursues us enough and watches our every step to protect us…that person is God. God is well aware of every step we will take and every situation that could ensnare us. He goes ahead of us to clear the way for our good and our growth to transform us from timid babies to mature spiritual champions. All victories will come in Him and through Him regardless of the outcome of any trial when we follow Him.

"Whosoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:9-11.

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