THE PURSUIT OF PEACE

THE PURSUIT OF PEACE

By Suzane Christie

Jacob has always been one of my favourite characters in the Old Testament for one very specific reason: I love how Jacob wrestled with God and made God his own beloved (Genesis 32:22-32).

Jacob had that one memorable encounter when God was no longer just the God of his forefathers but truly became his Lord – the God he “saw face to face” – who renamed him Israel.

But long before that fateful night when he wrestled with God, Jacob had experienced another encounter with God – albeit unintentionally. In Genesis 28:10-19, we see how Jacob, having fled from his brother Esau, arrives at a “certain place”.

That night, Jacob has an amazing dream, where he sees a ladder ascending from earth to heaven and he hears from God. Many of us remember this story for that dream but this passage is also rich in revealing the characteristics of that “certain place” where God meets man.

The Secret Place

Jacob had inadvertently stumbled upon the secret place, as he says in Genesis 28:16 “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” and these were all the treasures he received.

In this “place” Jacob FOUND God’s peace, refuge and rest (v.11); EXPERIENCED angelic activities and supernatural encounters (v.12); RECEIVED a revelation of God’s plans for him and a word in season (v.12-15); HEARD God’s voice and received His grace (v.13-15); was FILLED with God’s Presence (v.16); ENCOUNTERED the wonder and holy fear of who God truly is (v.17); and DISCOVERED the place where He dwells (v. 17-19).

We too can expect to experience all these and more, when we seek God in our secret place. One of the biggest treasure when we encounter God in the quiet is that we experience His glorious PEACE but here’s the key:

God’s peace FULLY embraces you only when you are at rest.

Unfortunately, too often in life, we experience situations that make us feel as though we are hanging on by a fraying thread of hope. Life has a way of leaving us restless, especially when we take our eyes off Jesus and settle our gaze on our circumstances.

When we make room for anxiety to crawl into our hearts because we are overwhelmed by difficult situations, our peace is the first to leave. Restlessness robs us of God’s peace.

Rest comes when you stop wrestling on your own and hand the reins over to God.

The Beautiful Exchange

Jesus promised us 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 made a beautiful exchange in this one verse. He gave us His Peace in exchange for every turmoil that torments us. He is saying that everything we are struggling with is already in His capable hands.

Jesus is asking us to rest because His peace is already ours to behold.

He also reminded us that He does not give as the world gives. What the world offers is often a fleeting escape that we mistakenly turn to for rest. They take our mind off things and distract us for a moment, sometimes with pleasure, but none give us the lasting peace or rest that our soul craves.

The pursuit of peace is our world’s biggest preoccupation. Everyone is looking for peace of mind but the problem is – we are always looking for peace in the wrong places and according to our own understanding. This only leads to unrest.

There is only one recourse to remove restlessness and that is God’s Peace. It transcends all understanding and sometimes defies logic but every single time, it is enduring.

The Enduring Promise

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “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.”

Our peace cannot be dependent on external circumstances of the world because those will constantly change.

When our source of peace is from the Prince of Peace then it will permeate through us in an unshakable way. God’s Peace is never affected by external circumstances.

When God’s peace is at the centre of our hearts, we will be able to withstand walking through the rockiest terrain in life because we will have the confidence that the journey is temporary – God’s promise of peace is everlasting.

God’s peace comes from your intimacy with Him when you rest IN Him because you trust Him. It is the result of your faith in God.

The more you rest, the more you will allow yourself to be cradled peacefully in His arms. Rest in God makes room for His perfect Peace, which then leads you to more Rest.

He will keep us in perfect peace when our minds are steadfast, because we trust in God (Isaiah 26:3).

The Presence of Rest

When we pursue God’s peace, we must first be at rest but how do we achieve rest? The answer is simple; we pursue God’s Presence.

When we find rest in God’s Presence and within His Word, where His voice speaks, clarity of the mind is often the result. What follows is rest.

In Exodus 20:8-10, God promised, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” It is from this place of rest that we should live our lives every single moment – nestled deep within His Presence.

It is God alone who can give your soul rest.

The most beautiful thing about God’s rest is that it touches every area of your life. When you become at rest in just one aspect of your life, you will find that your response to even the biggest challenge will be significantly different than before.

God’s peace permeates the deepest corners of our soul when we are rested in His Presence.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus is offering us a way to live each day secured in His rest. Why then would we choose anything else over His offer?

Exodus 14:14 says “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” God’s assurance is that even in the MIDST of a battle, we CAN be at rest if only we remain anchored in the ark of His presence.

The truth is when we allow faith to rise up and allow the Lord of Hosts take His rightful place at the frontlines of our battles, we can stay rooted in His stronghold of peace. We can be at rest.

The Result of Faith

Rest is the result of our faith – knowing He is the Almighty God and most importantly, believing He is a good and faithful father, who will never leave or forsake us.

When our soul truly believes in this, then our soul will truly be at rest. Anytime your heart is burdened, filled with anxiety, or you feel darkness crouching at the door of your soul, seek God.

The best remedy is to soak quietly in His presence, feed yourself with His Word, or lift up a song of worship to Him.

When you are restless, you don’t even have to say anything to God, you need only call out to Him and the Presence of His Rest will find you.

God will draw near when you call out to Him because God wants to bridge the gap so you can step into His presence and be at rest.

“Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

God wants you to live an abundant life – it is why Jesus came and that life in abundance includes His overflowing peace! God gives strength to His people and blesses them with His peace (Psalm 29:11). 

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

In very simple terms, Paul tells us to stop being anxious, a Greek word that means to ‘divide the mind’ – with distractions, burdens, worries, and anxieties.

The very fact that Paul tells us “do not” be anxious indicates that WE have control of our minds, actions and hearts. WE can choose to shed off restlessness and put on the robes of rest – but only if WE choose to stay rooted in God’s presence. We can choose Faith IN God’s Promises.

In His Presence

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus tells Martha: the antidote to worry and anxiety is to do what Mary did – “to sit at His feet and hear His word.”

Jesus likened worry, distraction, and trouble to weeds that grow around a life. This preoccupation in our mind is what stops us from spending time with God in prayer and in His presence.

When we take captive of our thoughts and guard our hearts, we free ourselves to a clear path to sit in the presence of Jesus, in prayer and thanksgiving.

If we choose to do what Mary did and sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His Word and be in His presence, we too will experience what Mary did – rest amidst the busyness of Martha.

Do you struggle to not worry and rest? Do you know that it comes down to making a choice?

What will you choose today?

About the Writer:

Suzane Christie is a writer, blogger, and traveller,  in awe of life with Jesus. She shares, “I write because it is my passion and my instrument of worship. Writing is how I connect to my experiences. I blog because I want to connect with you and share those experiences.” Suzane has a deep desire to reveal the heart of God through her writings and to help people discover the Heart of the Father.  She maintains a blog site at suzanechristie.com

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