“Can you hear that?” I asked my husband as we stood outside in the dead of winter.
“Hear what?” he asked me.
“Shhh … I want to remember this moment forever,” I replied, taking in a deep breath to let the chill of winter fill my nose and lungs.
The truth is, there was nothing to be heard — nothing but the beautiful sound of silence and peace hanging in the air. But I wondered if my husband noticed it like I had. I wondered if the stillness struck him the way it had awed me.
Many people are awed by grand events, bold actions, and flashy sights and sounds. I however, am awed by stillness. I think part of this craving for silence stems from the extroverted-introvert writer inside me who needs space and escape from the chaos of daily living. But I also know the greatest contributor to my craving for stillness is something deeper, something I can’t explain — because it is in the stillness I truly experience God’s presence and overwhelming peace.
I haven’t always known what it’s like to experience the peace of Christ in my life. In high school and college I always had to be doing something. I filled every minute of every day with activity to avoid feeling anxious or bored, flitting from one thing to the next without pausing much in-between. If you’re thinking, “gee that sounds exhausting,” you’re right — It was. My life was practically void of peace.
I believed in Jesus during this time but my faith was not very strong, and because of this I wasn’t devoted to cultivating a better relationship with Him. I heard other people talk about how Jesus was the “Prince of Peace,” but I couldn’t fathom experiencing peace or stillness without the presence of boredom or anxiety. When life felt out of control everything felt out of control, and I didn’t know how to find peace amid chaos.
Learning to Surrender to the Prince of Peace
As a journalism major in college I interviewed hundreds of people and wrote hundreds of stories. Typically the stories were about something newsworthy going on in the surrounding community, or a feature about a student of professor making a difference. But one day, my professor tasked us with writing an inspirational article about one of our family members. Before I even left the classroom I knew who I wanted to write a story about: my Uncle Rick, who was partially paralyzed from a rare medical condition years ago.
I’d always been amazed by the way my Uncle Rick and Aunt Julie had handled the situation. They never seemed bitter or angry about anything. It’s like they were completely at peace with their lives, even though things had spun out of their control. Before writing the story I asked them how they were able to keep it together, and their response astounded me.
“The night the ambulance came for your Uncle Rick, Lauren, I can’t really explain it, but I had this stillness and peace wash over me,” my Aunt Julie said. “I know God was holding us in those moments, and even though I was scared my soul was at peace … I knew everything was going to be OK because He had us in His arms.”
Hearing my aunt and uncle’s testimony of peace was so powerful to me and after our conversation I began to believe maybe I, too, could experience the same kind of peace they had experienced. Maybe I couldn’t bring about peace during the stresses of daily living, but that didn’t mean God couldn’t.
It took some time, but today I am so thankful to be at a place where I don’t just know God’s peace — I crave God’s peace. In His goodness, God has showed me I have no need to feel anxious or bored if I’m not busy. He has taught me to rest in Him and find joy in the peace He offers.
I think the reason many of us, myself included, get anxious when we have nothing to do is because it makes us feel unsure of ourselves and our purpose … We worry we aren’t enough and our minds often wander to worrying about things we cannot control. But Christ came to give us peace amid this world of chaos. After dying on the cross Jesus spoke with his disciples and told them, “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)
This same peace is available to you and I today, if we will trust and rest in the Lord, follow His leading and wait for His coming. His peace can transform our lives and turn our worry and chaos into streams of mercy and peace. As we continue to prepare our hearts for Christmas and celebrate this second week of Advent 2015, would you pray this prayer with me today
Lord Jesus, thank you for being our Prince of Peace. Thank you for leaving your throne and coming into this chaotic, disconnected world. Thank you for silencing our deepest fears with your love, mercy, grace and peace. Help us be at peace with ourselves and those around us. Bring peace where there is division, war, injustice, anger, bitterness, hatred and violence. Bring peace to all of creation. Amen.
P.S. Today I want to leave you with this amazing song by Hillsong, called, “Prince of Peace,” which I think beautifully captures the transformative power of God’s peace (lyric snippet above).