I really love to plan. I enjoy planning school- lessons, field trips, schedules. I love planning vacations, new schemes for house cleaning or organization, and ways to invest in or raise my children. So it is really not all that surprising that I like making New Year’s Resolutions.
I like the idea of a fresh start in the New Year. The busy holiday season is behind me and I am facing a New Year full of possibilities and opportunities. I usually take my time to think and ponder and pray about what I want to focus on- or hopefully, what the Lord wishes to work on in my heart for that year.
This year, however, it did not take me very long at all to figure out what needs to change in my heart this year. In fact, I have felt this desperate need deep in my heart for months, though only really recognized it in the crazy weeks preceding Christmas. I am desperate for peace.
As you can probably imagine, in my household with four young children (three of which are crazy boys and one of which is a dramatic girl), days characterized by calmness, quiet, cleanliness, and organization are nonexistent. In fact mere minutes characterize by any one of those things are incredibly rare. I keep thinking that if I can get a better organizational system, or finish getting settled, or get rid of half of my possessions, perhaps then I can have some peace.
It was in the beginning of December that it struck me. I was thinking about it all wrong. I was thinking that peace depended on my circumstances.
Peace is not a clean house and perfectly behaved children. Peace does not only occur when you are on vacation and out of cell phone service range. Peace is not achieved by being financially solvent. You do not earn peace through your good, responsible, right behavior. Peace is a gift. And peace is a choice.
The angels heralding Christ’s arrival to poor shepherds watching their flocks at night declared, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
There are two kinds of peace. The first is the absence of strife between people. Christ came to bring peace between God and man. Man had offended God’s law and Christ satisfied the law and the punishment. Therefore, we now have peace with God. We can also have peace with one another as any wrong doing or offense has been paid for on the cross. This peace is breath-takingly glorious and is ours in Christ.
Peace is also an inner state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being and security. Ah, this is what I long for. To feel inside my heart that I am secure and that nothing can trouble me or disturb me. The first peace is a gift from Christ to us. This second peace is too. It does not depend on our circumstances. In fact, Christ’s peace is more fully revealed and recognized in trials and troubles.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NASB)
So how to get this wonderful peace? Luke gave us a clue in the tenth chapter of his gospel when he describes the scene of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
We must sit at the Lord’s feet, fill our minds with His words, talk to Him and listen to Him. Peace is a gift He gives us, but we must choose to accept it. We must choose to present our requests to Him (Phil. 4:6-7). We choose to think about things that are good, true, and pure (Phil. 4:8). We choose to meditate on Scripture so that is what flows out of our mouths when we speak (Col. 3:15-16). We choose to be thankful in every circumstance (I Thess. 5:16-18). We abide in Christ and let His words abide in us (Jn 15:7).
Paul lets us in on the secret. The secret to peace and contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
So, this year, my resolution is to choose peace. To fill my mind with God’s Word and pray for His peace to guard my heart and my mind. When my house is messy, the kids are going crazy, and my schedule is in shambles, I choose peace.