"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you. Because he trusts you."
If I had come to a blog like this at certain points in my life―whole seasons of life, in fact―it wouldn’t have done me a bit of good.But at other times it would have been like a man stranded in the desert sun finding an oasis of palms and spring water. Like the time right after my best friend died suddenly, leaving behind a grieving widow and five children. Or the time when I lost my job unexpectedly and had no idea how we’d survive financially. Or like that difficult year when one of our children lost their way and was seriously thinking of jumping headlong into a destructive lifestyle.
This blog would have helped me then. Oh, it most certainly would have helped me then. For it was during these crucibles of life I learned its lessons. I suspect it might help you, because…well, you’re still reading it, even after I told you what it will be about and suggested it might not benefit you.
Perhaps you are aware of a lack of peace in your soul. In certain ways your mind is not at rest. There may be things that trouble you, unsettle you. Just thinking about them can rob you of joy. Unanswered questions. Unanswered prayers or prayers that were answered, but it seemed like the wrong answer. You don’t know why God did what He did or allowed it to happen.
You try not to think about these things, try all sorts of things to blot them out. But they keep popping back up. When you do something to alleviate the stress they cause, it doesn’t last very long. The fretting thoughts are right there to greet you when you’re done. Why is that? And why is what I just described the common experience for so many people?
I think it’s because, deep inside, we know these things that unsettle us are real. They aren’t figments of our imagination. Life really is hard and full of uncertainty. The longer we live, the more obvious this becomes. We don’t feel in control, because…we’re not.
Too many things have happened. Too many unwanted surprises. Things we worked hard for did not happen; other things we never wanted to happen happened instead. Not just once or on rare occasions. But a lot of times, more times than we can count. And each time life ambushes us this way, we become more aware of how little control we have.
And so we worry…and fret. Then worry and fret some more. About the things going on in our lives now. Or the things that may come after that. Even when things are going well, we worry about what might happen to bring these nice days to an end. I have been a Christian since my senior year in high school. I was a fulltime pastor for twenty-five years. I know―both from the Scriptures and from a thousand life experiences―that God is faithful. He doesn’t lie. His promises are true.
And yet, I am still prone to fret.
Catch me in an unguarded moment. Ask me what I’m thinking (like my wife does so often), there’s a 50/50 chance I am worrying―or at least on a path to worrying―about something. I don’t do it on purpose. And it’s not always about big, scary things like I mentioned at the beginning. I’m talking about a more subtle form of anxiety that runs beneath the surface, like a low-grade fever.
Robbing me of joy. And hope. And peace.
But through years of living with these trials and uncertainties, I’ve learned something; it’s almost like a secret. It’s been right there in the Bible all along, but for so long I missed it. I see so many other believers in this hectic, hurried age who seem to be missing it also. I’m talking about a way to experience Perfect Peace consistently and, in those times when our mind wanders, how to find our way back quickly. It’s a kind of peace the world cannot give and cannot take away. It costs nothing. It is always available to every Christian, at every moment of the day.
That’s what this section of my blog will be about. Learning this secret. Not just in our heads, but in our hearts.
I could simply tell you the secret I've learned to Perfect Peace and be done with it. Off you go. Perfect Peace is now yours. But it wouldn’t be yours. You would just know that it’s possible. That it’s something available to you, if you are in Christ. Having this information is not the same as living in the good of it, day after day, week after week.
So week after week, we’re going to look intently at this truth of God, this promise God holds out to us. A promise of Perfect Peace.The goal will be to apprehend it, to own it, to develop a new habit that helps us keep our minds “stayed on Him.”
Please understand, I’m no expert on this. As I’ve said, I’ve learned these things out of necessity. The Lord has brought me through a number of difficult and challenging experiences that forced me to depend on Him completely, often for months at a time, just to make it through each day with my sanity intact. In fact, I should prepare you…much of what you will read will not give you a fond impression of me. It will seem I am, for the most part, making frank admissions of serious weaknesses and failures.
That will be on purpose.
The apostle Paul learned about the value of knowing his limitations and wrote about it to the Corinthians. After going through a particularly difficult trial, one where he pleaded three times with God to deliver him, Paul wrote this:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Paul learned what it meant to be content with weakness. He learned how to keep his mind stayed on the Lord, no matter what the circumstances.
He learned the secret of Perfect Peace.
My hope is that, through our time together, you will learn it, too. Jesus died on the cross, not just so that you and I might have the peace with God that saves us from wrath and judgment, but that in this life we might enjoy―even in the midst of severe trials―a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Phil 4:6-7).
He promises us a Perfect Peace.