Friday, May 19, 2023

Peace: Stayed on You

By: Lauren Thomas

When I think of the word “peace,” I usually imagine stillness and serenity, quiet and ease. I suppose I tend to envision peace as passive. But a phrase from Scripture keeps surfacing in my thoughts:
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
“Stayed on you.” “Fixed on you.” These words depict anything but passivity. They sound active. They don’t sound like a default. 
Imagine the sensations of standing waist-deep in water in the ocean, toes finding purchase in shifting sand, the undulating waves trying to push you back to shore. It engages certain muscles to stay fixed in that spot. It’s much easier to simply allow the water to carry you, to drift.

Peace is a lovely thing, but it rarely comes without intentionality. Especially when our minds are saturated with distractions. Just think of some common distractions. First, our cell phones. We carry them everywhere, a constant access to distraction. Then there’s all the thoughts that seem to float around after spending time on social media: worry about news; comparison leading to discontentment; fixation on new potential hobbies. Even calendars and task-lists can be distractions. All these distractions become the default. It takes very little effort on our part to drift, carried away with all the distractions.
To stay fixed, we must engage certain muscles. Attention and focus are muscles, muscles that have atrophied thanks to next-day delivery, streaming services, microwaves, handheld computers. But attention and focus are required if we desire God to “keep us in perfect peace.”
So how do we flex the muscle? How do we stay fixed in our focus on God? Just like the first step in building a muscle, we must engage the muscle. We take time to pray, read the Word of God, meditate on Scripture, and so on. Sometimes we need to simply move closer to the shore: when you’re in over your head in the ocean, it is increasingly difficult to stay the tide. So, remove some distractions: decrease screen time, consider fasting from something, or schedule time for God.
God’s peace may pass understanding (Philippians 4:7 KJV), but His peace isn’t passive. Today, I encourage you to engage those muscles of focus and attention. Enjoy His perfect peace.
What distractions drift you away from God’s perfect peace?
What is one way to engage your muscles of attention and focus today? 
Describe the sensations of “perfect peace.”

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