How to Stay Present in Peace

I like to call this time of isolation: a forced time of introspection. Whether you like it or not staying present is mandatory. When we are busy we like to say, “we have no time” and when we have loads of time we like to say, “we wish we were busy”. The point is we aren’t good at staying present because we don’t have any peace. So let’s learn how to stay present by receiving God’s peace.

Oh boy, what is peace? How do we get peace? I want peace! Simply put peace is a blessing from God, and it’s in His nature to give us peace. Its readily available to all who call upon Him.

Okay, so how does this work? Well first lets accept introspection – “the examination of our own mental and emotional state” and name the burden that is preventing peace.

Second, let’s look at these three verses that teach us how to have peace:

1. Name your burden and give it to Jesus


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30
The illustration of a “yoke” refers to: “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.”

Our “yoke” can feel like a heavy plow or cart weighing us down and instead of moving it forward we stay stuck.

I have misread this verse for a long time

I used to think Jesus meant He will take off our heavy load so we don’t carry anything. Assuming that whatever was causing me burdens would leave entirely. But it says, “take my yoke upon you” – so we still have a load to carry. This is more encouraging because its realistic. We all have responsibility in our day which simply cannot just stop – we all have loads to carry. However it doesn’t need to be a burden, God says, “come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. How? “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… for I am gentle and humble in heart”. We are to come to Christ in confidence that He will help us because he is “gentle and humble in heart”. God is approachable!

How to stay present in peace… we learn from Christ

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). Walk in the way in which Jesus walked which is doing what pleases the Lord. The peace is in the knowing my Father God. He has the best for me so it’s in Him where I will find it. So I gladly take upon His yoke which is easy and light because He is good and wants good for me. Spending time reading my Bible gives me peace because it’s a daily reminder of how much He loves me.

Practically speaking

For me staying present in peace looks like focusing on the blessing rather than the burden. For example, my husband working shift work. Everyday I only get half days with him and sometimes when the weekend comes this is a burden because I want a full family day not just half. However, the blessing is he has a great job and provides well for our family. So I focus on the gifts God gave me rather than what I do not have. This takes discipline to practice daily.

2. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you


Come near to God and he will come near to you.

James 4:8

Avoiding our burdens by distracting ourselves with anything other than God will not bring us closer to peace. Spending time in prayer helps to refocus our hearts and mind back onto His. So, if in doubt pray it out… (oooo did I just make a snappy saying?!?).

3. Do not worry about tomorrow


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Until we are with Jesus Himself, in heaven, we will always be working towards something here on earth. I know I can get bogged down with a mentality of a “finish line” assuming success is something concrete. But success is making the most of TODAY – a constant state of progress. Humbling ourselves before the Lord so we can have His joy and His peace to guide our thoughts and actions of today. Its all about taking action in the right direction and maximizing the time we have, now! Jesus said it himself, do not worry about tomorrow. So we learn from His words and do as it says because its meant for our own good.

Jesus, I pray that you would change our perspective. Help us to look to you so we can receive your atmosphere of peace as we learn to stay present.

First Love

Ephesus separates deeds from love: Revelation 2:1-5

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Revelation 2:1-5

The book of Revelation

Revelation is a hard book in itself to explain as there are many symbols to unpack. For example, in this passage the word “lampstands” refers to a Christian church. The author of this book is the Apostle John who receives a very symbolic vision from Jesus. In this vision Jesus warns 7 different churches. I want to highlight his first warning to the church of Ephesus.

The warning to the church of Ephesus

Jesus commends the church of Ephesus on their good deeds, perseverance, work ethic and endurance. Yet, in verse four, His warning is that they’ve abandoned their love they once had for Christ. The kind of love Jesus refers to is the Greek word, Agape. Agape is the meaning of the highest form of love; love for God and his Son (Jesus), for Gods people, each other and even enemies. Jesus then tells the church to repent because they cannot have good deeds without love (agape).

Good deeds and love must work together – you cannot have one without the other

In writing this I find myself relating to the church in Ephesus. I could easily be writing, and recording from selfish reasons, treating it as a good deed or a task to check off the list. Doing “good deeds” will have a positive effect on peoples lives regardless of motives, but to what end? I want my writing to flow from a place of love for God, so people can experience His love through it. Let’s face it, I ain’t much of a writer, but I am a lover of Jesus. I am devoted to writing because it keeps me accountable to learning God’s word. This increased knowledge of Him returns in me loving Him more!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

Good deeds are a natural outpouring from your love of Christ

Just like the Ephesus church we can take our first love for granted. We are all guilty of sin and we tend to judge ourselves and each other about how ‘good’ we appear. But only God knows man’s heart (Proverbs 21:2). Good deeds don’t earn us eternal life, Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. His blood for our sins. I thank God that my faith is not based upon what I can do but based on what Christ has already done. I have a freedom in him despite my sin and imperfections. Staying true to learning Gods word will help us refocus our hearts back to that first love.

Remember who He is in you, reflect on the cross, repent of your sin, and love Him first because He first loved us.

We love because he first loved us

1 John 4:19

Unexpected

Some time ago (before the virus)

It was middle of the week and I’m strolling my daughter, Lyla, to the grocery store, which was part of our weekly routine. At the time all I was thinking about was what to make for dinner and it was only 9am.

A typical day for a mom.

After checking out with my groceries, the Starbucks inside the store caught my attention. It was one of those, I deserve an obnoxiously-priced-latte, type moments and I caved. As I was waiting for my latte I noticed an employee from the store crying at one of the tables nearby. Drawn with compassion, I knew I wanted to pray for her.

My squawking toddler and the tearful woman locked eyes and both exchanged a smile. Okay, I thought, this was my moment and I approached her and asked, “are you okay?” She sighed, “no”, and explained to me that her dog had to be put down that day and she couldn’t be there. It was happening in Maple Ridge and we live in Victoria. This struck me because I am originally from Maple Ridge so I made that to be a weird connection or coincidence. Regardless, my compassion for her grew.

Coincidence?

After she told me about her dog, I asked if I could pray for her, she replied, “yes”. I prayed that God would bring her comfort and peace in this hard time and thanked Him for what a great companion her dog was to her. After I prayed, I asked about her dog’s name.

She said, “my dog’s name is Lyla”.

“Wait... what? that’s my daughter’s name,” I replied.

Both Lyla the dog and Lyla my daughter shared the exact same name – spelling too! Crazy! Talk about coincidence? No, this was God at work.

Maybe if the names didn’t match or her dog wasn’t in Maple Ridge I would have left thinking it was all me that encouraged her. But the fact that the names matched confirmed that it had to be all God – purposefully planned to show her His love.

Unexpected love

God is always on the move to love. Having a relationship with God means we get to experience His love for others as well. It was such a joy and rush of excitement to feel God’s love for this woman whom I did not know. I felt encouraged that even in unexpected places God can be expected to show up.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:7-16