I had one of those “Come to Jesus” moments the other day. It started with a chat with a friend: “I need to experience more peace in my life” I had said. Little did I know the revelation that would follow those words. My friend loved me well enough to listen, probe, and call me out when she spotted a pattern.
I first thought my problem was time management, maybe I just needed to plan my days better, and that would be more peaceful. Then it turned into me needing to teach my four kids how to take responsibility for themselves and help around the house more. I was done yelling when things didn’t get done, done feeling like I am going to explode when my kids are screaming while I make dinner, done feeling twitchy and needing to run off to find some quiet as soon as my husband walks in the door. “I am going to find a way to experience the same peace I feel when I am holding the hand of one near death while I am working! Or the feeling of peace when I need to tell a family member their loved one just breathed their last.”
While I am working as a hospice nurse, or doing ministry, I feel a peace that can’t be described by words. I sense God’s nearness like never before even when I am walking through valley of the shadow of death with patients and loved ones. I want this type of peace to translate into my home life!
My friend listened carefully, and lovingly, then asked: “what are you going to do about it?” I set out to attack this with all the energy I had, I created a tidy list (with boxes to check) of all the ways I will find peace to deal with the chaos at home. My list looked something like this:
- I will create age appropriate chore charts for each kid and actually implement them
- I will spend time in prayer every single morning before I even get out of bed
- I will make sure I read my bible before I scroll through my phone
- I will Implement strategies to keep the kids peaceful with activities while I cook dinner.
I could go on, but I will spare you. She gently stopped me and asked me a question that shifted my perspective and uncovered a lie I have been clinging too for most of my life. “Laura, have you noticed your peace seems to be hinged on you accomplishing something?” Is that possible? I remember scrolling through my list thinking she must have missed my point behind it. As I looked through my neat and tidy “checklist” it hit me, she is absolutely right, I have been basing my peace on me checking off these boxes.
My friend gave me some space to think, but followed with another poignant question: “Laura, what about the days when you don’t do these things, or even worse what about the days when you might check every box, but your kids still scream while you make dinner, or on day 14 when your kids are still fighting you over the chore charts….what then? Where will you find peace then?”
I was almost speechless. She was right. I knew what she was saying was truth, but it was shocking for me to see my error in plain sight, yet also strangely comforting. I knew it was the Lord’s kindness to point this out. All this time the “peace” I was creating in my home, wasn’t a true peace. It was manufactured and completely dependent on me doing all the “right” and peaceful things. It was transactional, and as long as I did my part, peace would be mine!
My list soon simplified and drastically changed to:
- Confess this to the Lord
- Do a word study on peace in the bible
- Find a prayer or verse to speak in moments that I am tempted to believe my peace is reliant on me.
The process of learning and growing in this has been life changing. Through my word study this passage stuck out as the pivotal truth my heart needed and it comes from the mouth of Jesus himself in the book of John:
“I leave the gift of peace with you – my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts – instead be courageous!” John 14:27 TPT
The peace I had been seeking and manufacturing through my checklists and to-do’s was the peace the world gives, which is why it failed me when “life happened” and I wasn’t in control. The peace Jesus offers here is the real deal! It’s sturdy and perfect. It will hold up when life doesn’t go as planned, it will surpass understanding. Friends, this peace is a precious gift he offers us, whether we are facing an extraordinary trial, or an ordinary trial of the mundane. God doesn’t discriminate when it comes to peace, in fact all throughout his word he is mentioned as “The God of Peace”.
Please hear me when I say sowing seeds is important, it’s not bad at all to make choices that you know will usher in God’s peace. Just be cautious that your peace never becomes anchored to your ability to carry out those actions. How will you know if this happens? Speaking from personal experience, if you find yourself furiously checking boxes with the expectation that checking the box earns you the precious gift of peace, that may be an indicator that your peace is the peace that the world gives, and not the true perfect peace that only God can give. If you find this is true for you, don’t lose heart! Our God is ready and eager to show you mercy! Go to him, confess your counterfeit peace and let him flood every area of your life with his perfect peace today.