Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
A group of children were asked an adult-type question: “Why is it that some people are at peace and others are not?” “Some people just don’t know what inner peace is;—said Savannah, eight—maybe it’s just that they are so rushed. If people could slow down, maybe it would help”.
Seven-year-old Lauren said, “Some people don’t like to be quiet a lot.” Those that have inner peace “must have a quiet house”, she said. And then 10-yr-old Valerie said, “Some people do not have inner peace because they have so much anger in them.” I think it’s an excellent question to ask: how do we find peace? Then Mindy, who is seven, said, “Some people have inner peace because they have happiness and joy inside them. Jesus has inner peace.”
I could spend many hours talking about peace—how to find inner peace. All sorts of people have written on this topic or can give you advice. Like Dr Phil, who made this statement on his TV show: “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.” Yes, that’s a good view from a very gifted man who has a large TV-viewing audience—and sensible advice. But I think anger, disappointments, and regrets rob us of our peace and we become upset, confused, and as a result we certainly are not at peace. How do we find inner peace?
You might say, I know I can make my life a success if I try hard enough. Or a lifestyle: If I can make enough money, life will be wonderful. Or even a time period: The future is going to change things. Do you have to go somewhere geographically in order to find it? Some people travel the world looking for that ideal holiday destination, a place of comfort and peace, away from the everyday worries. Do you have to read a particular book, or go to a particular workshop, or meet just the right mentor? No. You don’t. All these things can be helpful, of course.
God wants us to live a life of inner peace
Many gifted individuals have tried for answers—like Marcus Aurelius: “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.” What does that actually mean? Pascal, the great French philosopher and mathematician, once remarked that the greatest problem facing the human family is the inner inability to be still. He saw people, and he was alive 300 years ago, rushing through life, not able to stop and reflect on life. Back then there were no cars, airplanes, no TVs, movies, or internet. What would Pascal think if he lived in our present time?
In this 21st century, we can’t be still or we are bored. We just can’t relax anymore—we have to be going, doing or pushing. As a result we are stressed and tense. But that’s not what God wants for us. He wants us to live a life filled with inner peace; not a life filled with restlessness, strife, fear, uncertainty. God wanted his Hebrew people in the Bible times to fill their lives with his shalom, a word that means ‘peace’, prosperity, or welfare. The word points to an abundant life of joy, fullness, health, blessing, and friendship with God. It means to be physically well, emotionally sound, and spiritually whole. We cannot create our own sense of peace. It comes from God himself through the person of Jesus Christ.
St Francis de Sales said, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” A British psychiatrist once said, “With peace in his soul a man can face the most terrifying experiences. But without peace he cannot manage even a simple task as writing a letter.”
One writer says, “With the constant stream of media, noise, commitments, conflicts, and other distractions, you will not likely find times of quiet, stillness, and spiritual reflection unless you plan them, unless you pursue meditation as a discipline.” “The key to inner peace and a fulfilled life is one that is grounded in Christian meditation.” What that means is that in silence and solitude, we come face-to-face with our true selves, and the real issues we must deal with, however uncomfortable.
(To be continued in Peace in Our Time – Part 2)