Is there peace beneath the surface?
I think as leaders we constantly have to put on a brave face. We are the ones who get things done, run the ministries, coach the volunteers, and have the strong shoulders. We teach others things like "don't worry" and that God’s plan is best.
Truly, one the hardest things for me early in ministry was to fully believe--for myself—what I was teaching others. There was this underlying dis-ease, worry, and fear that God wasn’t going to come through for me. I was telling all these people--God is trustworthy. God answers prayers. God has a plan and is in control. Yet I struggled to have peace with that in my own heart.
I realize now, as God has been working in me and growing me, that I was lacking peace. I was looking to situations and how they turned out to give me peace. If circumstances turned out the way I thought they should, I felt okay. If it didn’t (which, let’s be real, it doesn’t turn out the way we want more often than not), I wouldn’t have peace.
Jesus says in John 14:27, “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.”
Jesus has left us peace. We have to choose it.
We have to choose to forgive, choose to overlook offense, choose to trust God when it doesn’t turn out like we want it to. We get to choose peace because He has already gifted it to us.
I used to pray for God to give me peace, but then I realized He already has. I now shift my perspective to pray for God to enable and empower me to walk in that peace. I pray Romans 8:6, that I would yield my mind to the control of the Holy Spirit so that I would take hold of life and peace.
It’s a choice of what I allow my mind to dwell on. When I am not choosing peace, I am dwelling on what is right in front of me….the frustration, worry, and what the world gives me. The shift occurs when I remember to look up and refocus my mind on what God is doing in the situation and acknowledge that ultimately He is responsible for taking care of me.
However, choosing peace is something I can’t do on my own. I know what the truth is, that Jesus has given me peace, but when I don’t feel like that’s true, or it doesn’t appear to be true, the presence of God is what reminds me who I am, and what I have in Jesus. It’s God’s presence that centers and focuses us when we need peace.
Are you in God’s presence enough? We can’t remember who we are without His presence. We are too flooded with life. Being in His presence isn’t on the to-do list; it's LIFE AND BREATH. It’s the only way for Him to remind us that we are is His daughter, His masterpiece, His beloved, that He knows us and still loves us more than we could ever imagine. What a gift His presence is!
When we are in His presence and choose His peace, that results in peace being our guard. I tend to think of peace as being passive. But peace is an action and, when we choose it, we are allowing it to be our guard.
Philippians 4:4- 7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I have always focused on the “do not worry” part of this scripture, but it clearly says that the peace of God will be our guard. I picture an actual person standing at the door of my heart and mind, not allowing the worry, fear, and torment that wants to enter. When we do the first part of this verse -- rejoice, do not worry, and pray with thanksgiving to God -- then such powerful peace that we can’t even comprehend will GUARD us.
I want to be the ministry wife that feels on the inside how I look on the outside. I want to live and believe what I teach. I can only be that when I choose peace and allow peace to be my guard beneath the surface.
Peace Beneath the Surface is ENTRY EIGHT in our Beneath the Surface blog series. Did this message speak to your heart? It would thrill us if you'd share it with the women under your influence and other ministry wives.
Casey Graves is a wife, momma to two girls, and co-pastor/planter of Foundations Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a friend or a family date day when she finds some spare time. What draws her to Sanctuary is her desire to truly share her vulnerabilities and struggles to help others dealing with similar wounds and insecurities that come with ministry. Casey recently published her first book, Perfectly Weak, now available at Amazon, and blogs at We Are Perfectly Weak.