“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Peace. The word brings to mind a serene place, one of isolation and stillness. Almost every time I try to conceptualize peace, I picture myself in nature, among trees and sounds of nearby streams. What do you picture when you hear the word peace? I’d guess, between all of us, our pictures have something in common. We all, in those daydreams and pictures, feel close to God. We have a heightened sense of the Spirit within us, and God’s whispering in our hearts is crystal clear.
I imagine we feel a sense of contentment. Schedules and stressors gone far from us. Many of you might also picture being present in nature, while some gravitate toward time among good friends, or where relationships are thriving. My husband, I imagine, would picture himself in his shop, woodworking, with everything level and plumb.
When we are drenched with peacefulness, we are pleasant people. It’s when we are the most hospitable and kind to others. However, most of my life isn’t spent living out my daydream of peace. It’s spent among noise and distraction. We have a tendency to get discouraged about this. Our solution is to spend vast amounts of energy trying to reach this place of contentment, blaming distractions for our shortcomings. It simply doesn’t work and only leads to greater discouragement, exhaustion, and resentment.
Our lives focus less on God’s intentions, and become almost entirely about our own. But God is present with us always. It may feel easier or more profound to recognize God in content moments, but it’s God who brings contentment, not the other way around. There isn’t any reason peacefulness can’t become a greater part of our daily lives. Changing our perspective opens us to God’s powerful presence at work—amid our imperfect surroundings, speaking to us through flawed people and all the noise. Instead of longing for a change in your environment, long for God right where you are. God will show you that peacefulness is about being connected to the Holy Spirit in all you do and experience. God is as much with you now as during your picture-perfect peacefulness.
Contributed by Haley Krueger, Lynwood Friends. Haley lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, Matt, beloved corgi Gideon, and “The Ladies”—her pet hens. Haley serves on the Board of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and directs Surfside. She’s an avid DIYer, thrift store regular, blogger, and spends most of her free time sewing and cooking…her idea of fun.