By Melissa McLaughlin
We’ve all been there. That moment when anxiety, doubt or fear grips our heart with paralyzing force. As if the jaws of death are closing in, crushing our breath, imprisoning our thoughts, consuming our whole being.
Unfortunately, even in those rare moments when our personal lives appear to be quietly coasting along, we can quickly be swept up and tossed about by the whirlwind of violence, hatred and evil that dominates our news media and lurks in the backdrop of our world, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. We stand among the ashes of sorrow wondering where and when the next shooting, bombing or hate crime will occur.
How can we experience the peace of God amid such chaos, sorrow or pain?
On a recent trip to the beach, my husband and I enjoyed a peaceful respite. We watched the morning sun glisten on the rolling water, napped in the soft sand and swam in the joyful waves. As we meandered along the water’s edge looking for shells, we listened to the waves’ rhythmic chorus. I asked my husband, “Why do people say the ocean helps them feel peace?”
He responded, “The sound is calming. The repetitive white noise blocks out the world for a little while.”
I wondered at his answer. Is that it? Is this the reason people flock to the beach like seagulls after a crumb? Yes, they like to swim in the refreshing water. Yes, they like to nap in the warm sand. But is it mostly to experience a peace that is so great it blocks out the world for a little while?
How can we experience peace from God, the One who made the very ocean that brings us peace?
How can experience the peace of God?
Here are 7 ideas that have helped me experience the peace of God. I pray they are a blessing to you.
1.Pause and Turn Off the World – Though we can’t escape everything in this life, we can pause from the rush and clamor that we invite in through our online world. Turn off the phone, the computer, the TV, the radio, etc. Even if just for 30 minutes. Make the effort to lessen the voices of the world so that God’s voice may take center stage.
2.Take a God Walk – Take a walk outside. Breathe deeply of the flowing air. Look up at the expanse of the skies. Take in the fullness of God. Allow the wonder of His creation to have its rightful anchor in your soul. Listen to the sounds. Perhaps you will be graced with the song of a bird, a dog’s playful barking, a child’s laughter, the rush of the wind. Let the greatness of God and His creation remind you that He is the One who made this world. He is the One who made you. He is the One who died for you. He is the One who is coming again to make all things right, once and for all.
As you walk, remember Jesus.
3.Remember Jesus – In your mind’s eye reset your vision to zero in on Jesus, our precious Savior. Remember that He, too, faced violence, hatred and evil. Imagine Jesus reaching out to carry all the evil of your heart and mine to the cross. Visualize Him there. Then remind yourself again today, He defeated sin, death and hell for all eternity. We have a Savior who has experienced the worst of this world and yet rose up from that grave and is seated in heavenly places! He understands our suffering, took on that suffering and still has gone forth in victory! Now He invites us to come with Him.
4.Remember Heaven – Remind yourself again that this world is not our home. As we gaze upon Jesus and bring to mind His redeeming work, we recall that followers of Jesus are not citizens of this world, but citizens of the kingdom of God. He has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. A glorious place we cannot imagine!
5.Remember Jesus is Coming Back – Rest in the fact that Jesus will have the final word. Just as all of the Bible prophecies that predicted Jesus’ first coming were fulfilled, so all of the prophecies of His second coming will also be fulfilled. Evil will be defeated for all time and Jesus will reign forever and ever!
6.Remember His Word – Sing a scripture song or repeat a short Bible verse that brings you comfort and hope. Something as simple as…
“This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”-Psalm 118:24
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”-Psalm 23:1
“Behold, I make all things new.”-Revelation 21:5
Let God’s Word become bigger than your words or the chatter of the world around you.
7.Repeat a Walking Prayer – Ask the Holy Spirit to help you form a simple prayer using memories of Jesus, scriptures and songs. Repeat that simple prayer as you walk. It could be something like this…
Jesus loves me.
Jesus died for me.
Jesus is coming again.
Jesus is King forever.
Use scriptures, songs and prayers that are best for you. Repeat this walking prayer in keeping with your steps. Let it wash in with God’s truth and wash out the weariness of the world. Wash in and wash out. Wave after wave of God’s Word, God’s hope, God’s peace. A repetitive calming prayer. A walking prayer.
The ocean is vast and immeasurable in its weight and power. It has a force that cannot be contained or tamed. Much like the evil that lashes out around us.
May we remember that God made all things. God created that mighty ocean that moves in power. God created the ocean of people who sometimes use their God-given lives for evil.
However, God defeated the greatest evil there ever will be by sending His own Son Jesus to pay the penalty owed by all humankind. It. Is. Finished.
May God’s love, God’s power, God’s truth become the white noise that washes in and out of your soul and drowns out the sound of anything less, which is everything else.
Let the peace of Christ, that He won for us on the cross, wash in and out of you this day, like the gentle ocean waves reminding you over and over and over that God loves you, Jesus died for you and no matter what happens in this life, the peace of heaven waits.
What helps you experience the peace of God?
Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.