“to guide us to the path of peace.”
Flames flickering and glowing deep hues of orange and red with hints of purple, blues, and yellows, the wood hisses and smokes, our fireplace is alive with warmth, while outside the wind howls from a cold winter storm. I think of where I was this time last year. Different flames and wood burned in the fireplace and through the blaze, my soul heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “You are not where you think you are.”
Wounded and broken from the darkness of depression and the drain from Covid, I heard the message and knew its meaning. I was entering a restorative process that would involve more than just my physical body. Like open-heart surgery, last year was a time for intense healing and over the past many months, the stagnant waters of my soul began to move and stir back to life.
If healing described 2021, the flames of 2022 have seared a new word into my soul.
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give” (John 14:27, NLT). Deliberating what peace meant to me, I realized how peace eludes me most of the time, yet has permeated me at other times. Am I the only one who dances around with peace?
What does peace look like for you?
For me, it proposes a sense of rest, a place of tranquility, and an absence of conflict. Peace is a type of existence that comes from within and exists independent of outward circumstances. But the tossing and turning, the commotion and busyness, and the critical voices clamoring inside my head are roadblocks to a path of peace.
The yearning and hoping for peace fed by the taste of moments where peace was known, these delicious moments keep me wondering, “How did I get off the path of peace? And more importantly, how do I get back on it?”
Zechariah had difficulty believing the angel who revealed God’s plan for him and his wife, Elizabeth. The angel said God would answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayer of having a child. Stunned how this could be in their old age, Zechariah’s lack of faith resulted in his being mute during the nine-month pregnancy. The moment his voice returned, Zechariah burst forth into a song of praise.
He praised God for the birth of their son and John the Baptist’s purpose as a forerunner to the Messiah. He praised God for the Messiah and how He would guide us to “the way of peace” (Luke 1:79, YLT).
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79 NLT).
Jesus is the morning light from heaven who broke through our darkness and like a Good Shepherd, Christ leads us to rest in green meadows, guides us beside quiet streams, and gives us a continuous dose of strength to follow Him on the path that leads to peace (Psalm 23).
3 Ways To Stay On The Path Of Peace
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3, NIV).
Our Minds are Fixed on Christ.
To have our minds fixed is to have our unwavering attention solely directed on one thing unfractured. Our minds are a breeding ground for many things like bitterness or forgiveness, jealousy or gratitude, and failure or triumph. Many of our thoughts are based on emotions that have become exaggerated and filled with half-truths. Our mind is muddled with belief systems more influenced by experiences than God’s ancient trustworthy promises.
Regularly taking inventory of our thought life is key to achieving the peace we desire. When we sit honestly with our emotions and are open to how they feed our thought life, we can sort through our thinking more clearly. We need to become curious about the foundations that drive our thoughts and how they play a role in muddling our beliefs.
If our minds are not fixed on Christ and the truth He brings to our lives, peace will evade us.
Our Hearts Trust in Christ.
When we become curious about the foundations that drive our thought life, it will unveil where our heart’s belief system is rooted. For example, I have had life experiences reinforcing the lie I need to try harder, which has created a drive to prove myself constantly. No matter how hard I try, it is never good enough.
In this case, I trust my ability to perform instead of the truth that Jesus is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). The former belief leads me to live in a perpetual state of unrest and failure. The latter belief leads me to give something my best and trust Christ with the outcome. The Amplified puts the last part of Isaiah 26:3 this way, “because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”
Our hearts must run to Jesus and trust Him with confident expectancy or peace will escape us.
Our Feet Follow after Christ.
Our feet listen to our hearts and go where our minds tell us. The final step to peace is to follow Christ.
Jesus said he had given us peace. “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27, NIV). If Jesus is our peace and he offered it to us, we need to receive Him like with any gift. We need to believe Jesus is who he says he is and came to do what he said he would do. His words are trustworthy.
Zechariah spoke of how Christ would “guide us.” We may have believed and received the gift of peace, but we are broken and do not always follow. Peace is attainable more than we experience it, but it takes obedience, intentionality, and a bit of tenacity.
Peace ultimately eludes us because we are not following the path God has shown us.
While writing this, I have gotten up several times to stoke the fire, add another log, and continually manipulate the position of the logs to ensure the fire does not die. If our minds, hearts, and feet’ direction are not continuously attended to, our peace will become lost in the ashes rather than having a steady burning flame that produces the peaceful life we want.
I pray this year our minds are immovable from God’s promises, our hearts’ trust in God is unshakable, and our feet stay on the path God has for us, producing souls with impenetrable peace.
Meditate: Jesus is my peace.
Reflect: Where do you need peace in your life? Are your thoughts promoting peace or strife? How can you practice fixing your mind on Christ? Where does your heart need to trust God more? What faulty beliefs are your feet following?
Deeper: Isaiah 26: 1-8; Psalm 23; Luke 1:57-79
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(Bible References: NIV – New International Version, NLT – New Living Translation, YLT – Youngs Literal Translation)