Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year’s 2017: the Prince of Peace is Our Peace (Eph. 2: 14
Do you ever have a deep restlessness or yearning for ‘something more’? I do, and that searching process has been part of my Holistic Quest (launched in March 2015). I didn’t know what to expect nor how to begin, but I set aside a day for a Personal Retreat to reflect, meditate, and pray. The initial phrase, "my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" and the word, “water” were impressed on my mind and heart; I later recalled that 'water' is symbolically used in Scripture to represent the Holy Spirit. About six months later, “Holistic Quest” came to me during a prayer session. As the quest continued, I became convicted of the imbalances in the essential areas in my life (i.e., heart, soul, mind, and strength). The result of this lack of balance was lack of peace.

Because many of us have learned to compartmen- talize our lives (e.g., into areas, such as home, work, church, and community), it may not always be easy to step back to view them as a ‘whole’ and to determine if our lives are balanced. As a result, we may not take the time to assess how we feel about our lives overall. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint an area that needs attention, but this usually happens when it feels like that particular area is out-of-our-control or highly unsatisfying. Thus, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being highly dissatisfied, and 5 being highly satisfied, how do we rate our lives? Are we living meaningful lives or are we merely existing? Do we operate from a place of peace or are we overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, and mistrust? Peace is the ‘glue’ that enables us to keep going, even when it seems like our personal life—or the world around us—is falling apart. 

But, what is peace, and how do we acquire and hold onto it? Martin Luther declared, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” And the Collins Dictionary notes, “If something gives you peace of mind, it stops you from worrying about a particular problem or difficulty,”
( Worrying seems to be a given in our frenetically-paced, technologically-driven lives, and peace frequently seems elusive. This leaves many of us anxious, unsettled, and rarely satisfied; as a result, we have a difficult time enjoying our lives. Yet most of us desire more serenity, a more simplified and peaceful lifestyle—a goal that seems hard to pin down as we are challenged by internal and external turmoil. Is it possible, then, to move towards the experience of sustaining calmness in our hearts, to inner peace in of mind?

Inner peace centers on our ‘being’ versus our ‘doing’, and it has numerous physiological, psychological, and spiritual health benefits, but what helps us to refrain from worrying so that we can hold onto that inner calm? Or if that inner serenity is lacking, what do we rely on to obtain the desired peace of mind? There are no ‘pat answers’, but there are some viable choices. For some, professional counseling may be needed to deal with the issues that underlie living in a constant state of worry and fear and to retrain their automatic thinking patterns. Additionally, some folks find peace and assurance in their faith, while others turn to less healthy and less satisfying choices (that may create more problems).

We all need peace in our lives. I believe that gaining and keeping inner peace is a process of healing, experience and growth. We will find ourselves dealing better with some circumstances than with others, but we will learn what we need to do as we practice recovering our peace when we discover that it has slipped away. Christians have many promises from the Prince of Peace—from Jesus—that we can have the peace that we desire in our lives. The apostle Paul emphasizes this, too: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness [peace], everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life,” (Phil. 4:6-7, Msg.).

Happy New Year!
Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

Below are some suggested daily Scriptures that provide assurances of peace.

Sunday, Jan. 1st: Isaiah 9:6 Prince of Peace
Monday, Jan. 2nd: Luke 2: 14 Peace on Earth
Tuesday, Jan. 3rd: John 16: 33 You May Have Peace
Wednesday, Jan. 4th: Ephesians 2: 14-16 Christ is our Peace
Thursday, Jan. 5th: John 14: 27 Christ Gives Us His Peace
Friday, Jan. 6th: Isaiah 26:3 We Keep our Peace When We Keep Our Focus

Saturday, Jan. 7th: Romans 15: 13 May God Fill You With Joy and Peace

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