Peace – oh, how we take it for granted! But when we do not have it, oh, how we realize it’s great worth!
The kicker is we do not have to live without peace in our lives. That’s right. We do not have to live in turmoil or in fear. Peace is readily available. No, it’s not a life without pain or troubles, not a world without war or strife but an unexplainable calm in the midst of our troubling circumstances, a steadiness that holds us when our fears overwhelm. This peace comes only from the Lord.
In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (NIV) There it is, folks! The Lord has already given it to us. So, why are we shaken when bad news comes our way? Why do we worry when our bank accounts are drained and our livelihoods are taken from us? Why are we consumed with anger and hatred when the world turns its back? I believe the answer lies with our focus.
Take a look at Peter. I know you’ve read the story. I know you’ve heard sermon after sermon and already know the illustration I’m about to give. But the Word of God is an eternal fountain of knowledge and truth (Proverbs 2:6, Psalm 119:130; John 17:17; Matthew 24:35). His Word provides light and understanding each time it is read so, this well-known story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus may just be worth another look.
In Matthew 14, the Bible tells us of a time when the disciples were in the midst of a lake fishing. The weather took a turn for the worse and the waves began to grow higher and higher. Suddenly, the disciples saw a figure walking on the water toward them. Someone piped up, “It’s a ghost!” And, of course, that had to be true so fear overtook the disciples. We know, however, that it wasn’t a ghost but was Jesus coming to the disciples’ rescue. Knowing their fears, Jesus cried out, “Don’t be afraid. It is I.” Well, good ol’ Peter challenged, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus beckoned and Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Him. Everything was fine and dandy as long as Peter kept his eyes on his Rescuer. But the waves were crashing in on him and he just had to turn his head. Peter began to sink. The story continues with Jesus pointing out Peter’s lack of faith, pulling him out of the water and returning him to the boat. In the end, Jesus stepped into the boat, the storm subsided and the disciples once again smacked their foreheads and said, “Wow! This really is God’s Son.” (Oh, how we are so much like Jesus’ disciples! No matter how many times Jesus reveals His sovereignty, love and faithfulness, we are surprised at each revelation as if we doubted His promises were ever true. But that is a subject for another time…)
Peace – it’s all about our focus. Peter was fine when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The waves were still crashing in around him. The storm was still brewing but Peter remained steady. The problem arose when his focus was diverted. Peter forfeited his peace when he turned his attention toward his circumstances. How often we do the same. We survey our situation and conclude there is no hope. We surrender to the fear, to the helplessness, to the unknowing and we begin to sink. In fact, we begin to drown. Fortunately, our Rescuer knows our weakness and reaches out His hand to save us.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV) Peace – Supernatural Peace – that surpasses all of our understanding and transcends any circumstances can be yours. Your situation may remain the same, the problems may still exist but your life can be filled with peace. Turn your focus from the waves crashing around you and fix your eyes on the only One who can steady your heart and mind.
In a song of praise to God found in Isaiah 26:3, we find the words, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT) These words remind me of another song I sang as a child that says,
“I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart.
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.” *
Don’t you want that lasting peace? Make Jesus your focus and allow Him in your life. After Jesus rescued Peter from sinking, the Bible tells us that as soon as Jesus stepped into the disciples’ boat, the storm was calmed. Why don’t you let Him in your boat today? You won’t regret it.
*Words by George W. Cooke