It seems rather easy, almost effortless, to receive and experience peace when in a tranquil setting. When surrounded by the beauty of nature or standing on a mountain top looking down at the cars and passersby, that seem so minute and far away, it can be so much easier to let go of and release the cares or concerns that can bear down on us at times.
The song goes, “peace is flowing like a river.” Yes, that is true, except for the times when it is not…the times when someone or something becomes an obstacle or intrusion to our peace…the times when we allow external things to form a dam and block the flow. How do I recognize when that is happening? What can I do to stop or reverse it?
Oftentimes, peace can seem so elusive in the world. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about peace is that almost everyone seems to want it, yet instead of it being a constant companion it seems more of a guest that pops up here and there before disappearing. Why is that? What is it that causes peace to leave?
From song to saying, “Peace is not the absence of conflict; but the presence of God no matter what the conflict.” It seems to stand then that lack of peace is the absence of God. Or rather, lack of peace is a sign…a flashing beacon…the result of somehow, someway removing God or one’s higher source from the equation.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27). Perhaps sometimes peace slips away from me or becomes smothered beneath the weight of the world. How do I get out from underneath? Perhaps sometimes, whether knowingly or not, I become wrapped up in the busy-ness of the world or I seek peace, or a sense of security, outside rather than allowing it to rise from within; it has already been granted to me.
Peace is often equated with adjectives such as calm, mild-mannered, soft or gentle. These are all words that indicate or are often the result of surrender. When I think about the experience of peace, whether through hiking in the mountains, laughing and enjoying my children, or sitting by the bedside of a loved one battling illness, they all seem to be preceded by or involve a sense of gratitude and a handing over…letting go, quieting down, listening and simply “being.”
“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”
– Isaiah 30:15