“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3).”
Need peace? Three-legged dog Lucy, one of Walk by Faith Ministry’s 16 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs, hates thunderstorms. I have never seen such an extreme case of thunderstorm anxiety. Large, happy-go-lucky, high-energy Lucy is reduced during storms to anything and everything from jumping around like she’s out of her mind, which she tends to do anyway, vomiting, losing control of her bowels, and flinging saliva and blood everywhere as she tries to bite her way out of her extra-durable crate that is meant to keep her safe. I was recently shocked to find the one way she manages to find peace in the midst of the storms. When she fixes her focus on me and sits right by my side, no matter how uncomfortable she may remain as the storm rages on, she has peace she cannot find anywhere else. I am reminded that in the storms of life, amid life’s trials and tribulations, the only “perfect peace” we can ever truly have is when we fix our hearts and minds on the Lord and stay right by His side.
I have spent so much of my life reduced to an anxious, crying, self-pitying, tormented, depressed, overwhelmed, stressed out, panicking, racing-around-in-circles, insecure, roller-coaster-of-emotions-riding woman in the midst of life’s storms. Despite my phenomenal love for the Lord, and no matter how much I have studied the Bible, and regardless of how much time I have spent praying, listening and trying to obey the Lord, I have found myself walloped over and again by the impact of my trials and tribulations. How can this be for someone who loves the Lord like I do and who is as committed as I am to following Him? The answer is simple. Peace is promised to those who demonstrate their trust in the Lord by securing their focus on Him. My focus has too often been on the storms rather than on the Lord. My heart has been more consumed with the trials than it has been with my Savior. I have started off with good intentions, pouring my heart out to the Lord, praying all the time, seeking His face, listening for His voice, excited to learn how to follow Him. But then I have found my attention distracted and diverted as I have turned my focus to the problems themselves, to the busyness around me, to the chaos that seeks ever to suck me into its vortex.
God does not only want our love, commitment, and time. He wants our minds fastened on Him. He wants us to rest by His side as He infuses us with His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and, yes, His peace. Lucy the dog didn’t find peace because the storm went away. She found peace in the storm by focusing her attention on the one in whom she places her trust. Though I did not take the storm away, as I obviously could not, Lucy’s trust was in my love for her and my desire to provide for her and my constancy in her life. She did not find peace in a change in her hard circumstances. She found her peace in me. God doesn’t necessarily take away our trials, but He is there to walk through them with us. It is not in our circumstances that we are intended to find our peace. Perfect peace is found in Christ Jesus. But how can someone like myself, or perhaps yourself, learn to shift our attention from the woes of this world to the glory of the Lord? With commitment, practice, and perseverance.
When I find myself looking away from the Lord and His Word, or wandering away from sitting by His side, I return to Him. One day, I hope I will learn not to look or wander away at all. But until that time comes, I plan to carry on practicing what I need to do in order to experience His peace. Shifting my heart, my eyes, and my mind to the Lord. Need peace?