Written by: Dawn Stewart
“But the fruit of the Spirit is…peace…” Galatians 5:22
What comes to mind when you think of the word peace? Pause for a moment and contemplate.
Did you think of world peace? Peace of mind? Peace and quiet? Peace be with you? Peace be still? Peace out?
Maybe you thought of the word calm or quiet. Perhaps your mind went to serene or stillness.
Maybe you had a picture come to mind. A beach? A bubbling brook? A green pasture like in Psalm 23?
Peace was something I aimed for most of my life. It was a goal in my mind, a landing place, an outcome – something I was trying to attain.
The harder I chased after peace, the more elusive it became. I felt like a dog chasing after its own tail!
The problem was – I misunderstood what I was after – I didn’t know peace because I didn’t understand what it actually was.
What exactly is peace? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, there are several definitions for peace. Among them are “… a state of tranquility… freedom from civil disturbance… freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts… harmony in relationships…”
Human beings typically define peace as the absence of something. The absence of chaos. The absence of war. The absence of anxiety.
These definitions are all correct. And yet there is more. So much more. Our worldly definition doesn’t do justice to the type of peace we are actually longing for in the depths of our souls.
Most of us don’t realize it, but our longing for peace is actually not a longing for the absence of something. It is a deep-seeded hunger for someone.
Real peace is found in the presence of a person.
“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” Luke 8:22-24
When I imagine this scene of Jesus on a boat with His disciples, I don’t think of the “Sunday School” pictures of twelve men in a little boat on a pond.
I picture the boat being thrown from side to side, rising up on huge waves, and pummelling down into the waters below. I picture water whipping through the boat and the disciples running from one rigging to the next, trying everything within their power to keep the boat from capsizing.
The disciples were in very real danger, and in desperate need of rescuing. So picturing panic, chaos , confusion, and fear is easy. But, sleeping? I certainly do not picture that. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus was doing. Sleeping. In the middle of a squall.
Isn’t that just like Jesus? To be doing exactly the opposite of what we consider logical?
Some of us may think that it seems absolutely ridiculous that God would sleep while His closest friends are in the midst of a life-threatening circumstance. Maybe some of you even feel a little tiffed at God when you really think about this situation. I mean, how could He leave them alone in their time of need… right?
Jesus was able to sleep in the middle of the storm because Jesus was not impacted by the storm. The storm couldn’t even touch the deep peace of Jesus. This peace – the peace that passes all understanding – wasn’t something Jesus possessed. It was and is who He is.
Jesus is peace. His presence is my peace. And yours.
Storms lose their power in the presence of Jesus. His presence is the peace which calms the storms that threaten to overwhelm us – storms like anxiety, fear, confusion, dread, oppression, stress, busyness, and more!
There is no storm that the presence of God cannot overcome. This is why being in the presence of the Lord on a daily basis is such an important part of our daily walk.
As believers and followers of Christ, you and I have the same Spirit in us that Christ had in Him when He walked the earth – the Holy Spirit. And peace is evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives – the same peace that allowed Jesus to sleep in the middle of a squall.
If we have the Holy Spirit, we have access to this type of peace. Anytime we need it. But just like the disciples – we have to go to Him and access it.
When we run to God, His peace comes upon us, guarding our hearts and our minds in Christ (see Philippians 4). His peace passes our human understanding. And the fruit of the Holy Spirit becomes more abundant in our lives.
Remember: Peace is not a pursuit. It is not a destination. It is not the absence of something. Peace is Jesus.