When you hear the word peace, I wonder what you think. Perhaps lying on a beach watching a golden sunset? Or finally getting into bed after a long, hard day at work?
In a culture gripped with ever increasing amounts of worry, anxiety and stress about what the future holds, peace can be hard to find and even harder to hold on to. We can so often find ourselves just looking forward to the weekend or to our next holiday and think ‘once I’m there, I can relax and finally enjoy some peace and quiet’. But does peace have a deeper meaning? And is it possible to live with peace in your heart twenty-four seven?
A lack of peace is often easy to notice. In fact, almost every day at school I see youngsters who are not at peace with each other. Shouting matches can start over anything from whether the ball went out to who can stand at the front of the line for lunch. I recently played in a football match which greater resembled a warzone than “the beautiful game”. Two footed tackles flying in, language that Gordon Ramsey would be ashamed of and a couple of controversial decisions, which left the opponents in fits of anger and well on the way to the sin bin.
When I asked a student I mentor if he had peace, he took me by surprise; telling me that he was constantly anxious and stressed. This is coming from someone who on the surface looks calm and easy going but he probably described the exact opposite of peace – anxiety and worry.
It’s so easy to find yourself worrying about the future, doubting yourself but something amazing about being a Christian is that you don’t have to sit in that place. If you believe in your heart that God, the creator of everything you’ve ever seen, is for you and has a plan for your life, the weight is lifted. What’s more, is that you no longer need to focus on your own faults and shortcomings, as Jesus knows about them all… and is still for you!
In the bible John records Jesus telling us that we don’t have to be afraid:
“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.” John 14:27
I loved watching the final stages of the Rugby world cup a few weeks ago. As sad as I was that England eventually fell short, I was so impressed with the professionalism and spirit of the South Africans. There was clearly something bigger than just rugby going on, and on hearing the story Siya Kolisi, I found it pretty difficult to be a sore loser. This is a man who has grown up in a country divided by race. A man representing his country as the first black captain of the Springboks and who was stepping onto the pitch with the whole world watching him. You’d have forgiven him for looking nervous or cracking under the pressure but what astonished me was that he seemed to be the coolest person on the pitch.
If you’re wondering why that was, then take a look at his own words:
“I’ve been able to discover the truth and saving power of Christ in a whole new way. This new life has given me a peace in my heart I’d never experienced before. Now that I have given everything to God, nothing else affects me. I now live and play with the freedom of knowing His plan will always happen, and at the end of the day, that’s all I care about!”
Peace leads to freedom.
It’s not just a matter of escaping the troubles around you and awaiting that golden sunset moment. True peace is about being content in every situation and allowing that peace to give you freedom to live life to the fullest. When we give all our ways to God, ask Him to guide us and stop trying to do things in our own strength, we experience His peace and His freedom.
By Richard Davies