It was a perfect spring day. A gentle wind, warm and coaxing, announced the arrival of the season. Everyone around me was in a good mood. But it’s often on days like these, when we least see it coming, that God tends to surprise us with a little learning.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."1
Jesus promised us peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”2 Just as Jesus calmed the stormy sea when His disciples thought their ship was sinking and they were about to drown,3 He can calm the storms of life and give you inner peace.
A friend was showing me a photo that he took at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden—a large park in the middle of bustling Tokyo. It showed a brilliant blue sky with green trees framing it. When I complimented him on a beautiful shot, my friend looked amused. “Actually, you’re looking at it upside down. This is the reflection of the sky on the lake.”
I looked closer and saw that he was right. What I had thought was scenery was actually its reflection on the lake’s surface, almost like an optical illusion. I was amazed at how clearly the sky and surroundings were reflected in the still water. It made me think how wonderful it would be if my life could so perfectly reflect heaven’s peace and stillness.
Last winter I took a five-week trip to fundraise for a humanitarian aid project I'm involved with. My plan was ambitious—possibly overly so. Long, intense days for over a month straight took a toll on my spiritual life and general disposition.
One day, as I was taking my lunch break and walking around the large mall where I was manning a collection booth, the nonstop sights and sounds in this highly charged commercial setting were weighing on my spirit. I am a nature lover, and the below-zero temperatures and severe snowstorms that kept me indoors even when I got off work were another factor that made me feel trapped and miserable.
As the car kept winding up, up, up, I couldn't help but wonder if our friend's house had been built on the very top of the mountain. Darkness had fallen by the time my sister, two friends, and I got to our destination, but even at night the mountains seemed alive.
Our friend led us up a flight of dark and wobbly steps to the balcony, where we gasped at the panorama. Before us was the most beautiful view of the city of Iskenderun, Turkey, far below. Twinkling lights of all colors lined the Mediterranean, as though an angel had scooped up a ladle of stars and flung them across the darkness.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
—Matthew 5:9 NIV
We who work for peace must not falter. We must continue to pray for peace and to act for peace in whatever way we can, we must continue to speak for peace and to live the way of peace; to inspire others, we must continue to think of peace and to know that peace is possible.
—Peace Pilgrim (1908–1981), born Mildred Lisette Norman, pacifist and peace activist
I can give you peace that defies understanding,1 that calms storms, and that overcomes stress and worry. The storms may come and the waves may rise, you may be buffeted and besieged on all sides, but you will not sink, because I am the Master of the sea and everything is within My control.
I will continue to be with you always—through hills, across rivers, over mountains, through plains and meadows, through rain, sun, and wind, through heat and through cold. Through it all, I will love you, hold you, and help you. And you will learn and grow and experience new things, profound things, transformative things. You will come to know Me in a truly deep and personal way, and you will come to know and appreciate the gifts that I have for you—how bountiful, how perfect, and enduring they are.
Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.—Author unknown
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.—Colossians 3:15
To have peace reign in your heart may seem impossible when your mind is whirling in confusion at the stress of daily life. Yet such peace is promised; Jesus told us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”1
Today I went for a walk with the kids in the countryside surrounding the village in which we live, an area consisting of farmland, dirt paths, and small woods. The weather was great, so it was a good opportunity for the kids to get some fresh air and exercise as they ran around looking for the little creatures that are abundant in spring and summer.
It was an enjoyable break for me as well. Out on those country trails there are no computers, no pressing work, no chores, no meetings, no messes to clean up, and none of the myriad of other things that keep us busy most of the day.
Of all the word pictures Jesus painted, I can't think of another that engenders the peace of spirit that comes from feeling secure in God's loving care more than this: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. If God so clothes the grass of the field, will He not much more clothe you?”1 Can you see those lilies now? Tall and straight, perfectly formed and laced with dew, each a polite distance from the next, they sway as one to the sweet strains of songbirds and a gentle breeze as it sweeps through an open meadow awash with morning sun. At least that’s how I would have had them grow, if God had asked me.