When you believe, the Bible says, you can experience a peace that passes understanding.
I longed for that. I look back at tense times in my life, and wondered where it was hiding, because what I felt was anything but peace. I didn’t even flirt with the fringes of calm. No, I felt anxious, nervous and edgy, waiting for news, waiting for various results, waiting for that promotion, that new account, that new branch office, moving day, to sell the house, to hear whether or not our offer to buy a house had been accepted. And that doesn’t even get into sick kids, parents, or a husband assigned to Special Operations. Always waiting, always anxious.
In working as a writer, you learn patience. You’re always waiting for something. I’ve often wondered if God didn’t ignite the desire to write in those who most need patience because it is certainly a career field where you either develop it or not developing it makes you loopy.
Yesterday something happened. A key presented itself and opened that door to the proverbial closet where peace was hiding. I found the key–and my face is red because it’s been in my hand, so to speak all along–only I didn’t see or feel or sense it.
I’ve been contemplating a significant career change for some time. It’s one that requires a leap of faith, in the way that major changes often do. Well, I decided to make that leap, and took steps toward this new goal. It felt like the right thing to do. It felt like the right time to do it.
So now I’m in the middle of what should be an anxiety-ridden time. I should be worried, unsure, battling a confidence crisis or something along those lines. You know, any of all the things we usually feel when stepping out of our normal comfort zones and into ones where our knees feel like rubber and our footing isn’t quite sure.
Only I don’t. Feel rubber-kneed or unsteady or even uneasy. I feel calm.
Realizing this surprised me, frankly. I’ll be honest. I’ve been too busy to slow down long enough to notice what I did or didn’t feel. My husband picked up on it, and pointed it out to me–subtly, of course. He put it on my radar by asking, “Are you at all nervous about this?”
I didn’t stop to think, just answered. “No. If it’s what I’m supposed to do, I will. If this supposed to work out, it will.”
“So,” he says. “If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, fine. That’s it?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
It wasn’t his question, or my response that told me I held the key to calm and peace. It was the expression on his face. Just a tad shy of shock is a decent description. That was my radar alert.
And it made me giggle.
And giggling when history said I should be nervous made me think.
What I discovered is that I am at peace now and calm now and will be regardless of whether this new venture is one in which I soar or splat. You see, the key I discovered wasn’t in faith–I’ve always had faith–it was in focus.
In the past, I looked to me to have or get the answers. To make the calls. To decide and determine and choose whether to nest or fly. That’s why there was no calm, and there was no peace. I relied on me. Me, with all my flaws and shortsightedness; my lack of big-picture perception and greater-good insight. Relying on me made me nervous. I know my flaws and weaknesses. I’m reliable. I have a fair amount of sense and reasonable intellect. But I’m not supernaturally great at anything much less everything. And yet I do have access…
This whole thing reminds me of Mary at Jesus’s tomb. Remember how she was sobbing because He wasn’t there? I can’t tell you how many times I wondered why she was crying. He told her He’d rise on the third day. She knew He’d do what He said He’d do. So why did she think He would be there? Why did she cry when he wasn’t? I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense–she was totally devoted to Him–that she would cry if He were there?
Well, finding the key was like that. Like Mary crying at Jesus’s absence when one would expect she’d be jumping for joy. He’d risen!
Mary lost sight for a time. She looked at the wrong thing. Grief can surely make one do that. She had an excuse; she was mourning.
I didn’t. I just blew it. I looked at the things I was trying to accomplish and relied on me. Yes, I believed, but I didn’t keep my focus where it should have been. On God. Had I done that, I would have realized much sooner (and without all those anxious times) that the outcome isn’t significant. Soar or splat, it doesn’t matter. What matters is I felt called to make the leap of faith and made it. Finally my focus was exactly where it should be, and because it was and is, I’m calm and peaceful–and I will be calm and peaceful regardless of how things work out on this venture.
Why? Because this peace truly does pass understanding. It isn’t limited to this physical world. It’s rooted in focus. He has the big picture, He will never forsake you, He never gives you more than you can handle, He always, always does what is for your greater good–and (and this is a biggee!) He knows exactly what that is.
I never did. I always saw two sides–a mix of good and bad and I had to try to weigh and balance. Focusing on Him doesn’t absolve you from responsibility for your actions. What it does do is guide you into using the criteria He set forth–His criteria–for the decision-making you’re called on to do.
Attuned with his laws, his ways, a body is destined to fare well. There’s calm in knowing it. There’s peace in knowing it. His way is your best way, and He gives us no less.
Calm and peace–lasting peace–is in focus. On Him.
And in Mary’s tears, that insight was right there for me to see all along. Tears I’d wondered at many, many times but just never quite put together with peace or calm. Until now.
The key to calm and peace?
“Be still and know that I am God.”1
1 Psalms 46:10 (KJV)