You’ve probably heard me say that I like storms. If you haven’t heard me say that, we probably just met. I like storms. The sound of rain. How the clouds open up and the deluge moves toward me.
From the time I was little I liked to watch storms from our carport. I would sit outside the front door and smell the storm. I would watch as it moved across the cornfields and listen as the rain began pounding all around me. It was immersive and beautiful. If I was safe at home, game over!
Of course, this is predicated on being safe and sound. It’s a little more disconcerting to be in a car driving.
Back in 2006 my wife and I were caught in a major thunderstorm driving home from church one evening. We knew there were tornadoes in our area, but we couldn’t see anything around us to know how close. We knew a family from our church lived near where we were driving, so we pulled off to take shelter with them. The problem was they weren’t in their trailer. They were in the basement of the home they were building. So we did what we thought was best and stayed in their trailer.
Go ahead and laugh. We’re safe now. But man was that stupid! Trailers are tornado bait. Why we thought hanging out in a trailer was a good idea when a tornado was near I don’t know. But I do know that we were quoting Mark 4:39 (Jesus calming the storm) and 2 Timothy 1:17 (God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear). In case you couldn’t tell, we survived, and we learned what not to do in a tornado.
Isn’t it odd though? Storms can make me feel different depending on where I am as I experience them. When I’m safe in my home, storms are beautiful and awe-inspiring. When I’m out in them, storms terrify me.
So when storms come your way, where do you want to be sitting? Do you want to be out in it with a devil-may-care indifference or ignorance to the danger? Or do you want to be safe at home watching from your front porch? Either way storms will come. Your only choice is where you want to be.
Two Important Words
Earlier this year I had a post The Two Most Life-Changing Words EVER. In this post I highlighted the words “but now” as a way of emphasizing the past life of sin in light of God’s grace. However, there are two other words that are used more frequently in scripture, “fear not”. Throughout scripture, these two words are used 365 times (one for everyday of the year) when God is trying to get his people to calm the heck down.
Angels appear—Fear not!
Enemies come—Fear not!
Times are uncertain—Fear not!
Time and again God has to remind his people not to be afraid. Why do we need so much reminding? Is it because God is getting older and forgets he already told us? Nope. It’s the same reason I have to remind my kids to be kind to one another. We have short memories.
The Christmas Season
This is the time of year when we like to focus on the Christmas season and all its pleasantness. We reflect on Jesus coming as a baby and the announcement of the angels to the shepherds. We focus on snow-covered lawns and twinkling lights. Choirs, carols, and candy. We forget how terrifying it must have been to see an angelic army in the sky. As they wielded flaming swords and sang with the noise of rushing water the shepherds heard,
Their announcement was heralding two things: glory to God and peace to God’s people.
But peace isn’t just for Christmas. I need peace all year. In the midst of my everyday struggles I need peace. Lately I’ve been waking in the middle of the night, mind racing with thoughts ranging from worry about my job to anxiety about my kids. I need peace every single day.
So how do I get it? And even more importantly how do I give it once I have it? The disciples provide some guidance.
Disciples and Peace
Of all the distressing circumstances the disciples faced, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus had to be the greatest. They were inside Jesus’s circle and guilty by association. They were in the crosshairs of the same powers that would try and convict Jesus of trumped up charges.
So the night before he was crucified, he spent time encouraging them. They didn’t know what they would soon be facing, but Jesus knew. And he wanted them to be at peace. In John 14 we read:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.
Jesus was highlighting that when the Holy Spirit is present, we have the peace of God.
Fruit of the Spirit
I started a series a few weeks ago on the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Last time we talked about what it means for our families to experience joy. This week I want to cover a few things I’ve learned about peace and how it applies to our families.
Peace through the Spirit
First, peace comes through the Holy Spirit. This should be evident from Galatians 5:22, but it bears repeating. The gift of true peace comes through a relationship with God the Holy Spirit. It is only as we cultivate a closeness with our Helper, Advocate, Counselor that we discover what true peace is.
True peace isn’t ignoring the problem hoping it will go away. That’s detachment.True peace is putting our faith in God to be with us in our circumstances. @twelve2nds Click To Tweet
True peace is putting our faith in God to be with us in our circumstances. When we acknowledge our fears and concerns, God the Holy Spirit shows up and our branches produce fruit. You’d think that fear would poison our tree, but it’s the dead and decaying stuff that makes the most fertile soil. God takes that fear and grows peace and courage. He insults the enemy’s attempts to derail us by making his canon of fear backfire in an explosion of peace. God’s peace is a devastating weapon of our protection.
How is your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Are you deliberate about speaking to God the Holy Spirit just like you do Jesus or the Father? If not, I encourage you to open up to this often-neglected member of the Trinity.
Peace Guards Us
Second, God’s peace guards our hearts and minds. Paul is encouraging the church in Philippi to live holy lives, and near the end of his letter he says,
I love this verse, because it reminds me that I can’t even fathom the extent of the peace God has for me. Much like joy, the peace that followers of Christ experience is in spite of our circumstances. We aren’t promised a life that is free from hardship. It’s exactly the opposite. We’re promised difficulties. But along with those difficulties, Jesus leaves us with his peace that is beyond our comprehension.
Maybe you’ve experienced this peace. When you received terrible news from the doctor, you received it with peace and faced it with trust in God’s love. Maybe you’ve even reflected on it and are amazed you reacted that way. That’s the mark of the Holy Spirit, that in retrospect we have no idea where such radical hope came from in that moment. But God shows up and goes beyond our understanding.
Bring It Home
Is your home a place of peace or turmoil? Some of the struggles our families face are outside our control. But peace is always within our grasp. It is a gift God freely gives his people to protect them from the devastating effects of fear. To grow peace in our families, we must submit our fears to God and allow his Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and minds.
The place we need to end up is the safe front porch. Only when we’re safe at home in the presence of God does the fear of the storm pass us by.Only when we’re safe at home in the presence of God does the fear of the storm pass us by. @twelve2nds Click To Tweet
How peaceful are you in general? Have you been deliberate about growing peace in your family? Please comment below with your thoughts, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to continue getting encouraging posts and updates on my books! Thanks for reading.