by: Katherine Jones
Peace depends entirely on security, doesn’t it?
Imagine that you settle in to your warm bed, breath a sigh of relief from a busy day, and shut out the lights. You are drifting peacefully to sleep. Suddenly, you hear something – you’re not quite sure if it was real or imagined, but now your eyes are wide open and your heartbeat is picking up the pace. In that moment, there’s probably only one thing you can do to get back to almost-sleeping: get up, turn on the lights, and check it out. Until you feel safe, you won’t feel sleepy.
The frustrating thing about life on earth is that despite our attempts at feeling safe, nothing really is. Even if it’s encrypted, locked, hidden and password protected, it’s still at risk. Think of how much money is spent on things, real or imagined, that we are worried about; think of how many dangers we’re told to watch out for on a daily basis. At best, enough safeguards, information and money might give us a “feeling” of security, but never a guarantee.
Alarms can be disabled, systems can be hacked, money can disappear, weather can get ugly, protections can fail, health can go bad, random accidents could happen and we could each spend the rest of our lives worried and afraid. Or, we could turn to the one Person who offers complete personal and eternal security.
Consider the words of Jesus: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”
Sheep are probably some of the dumbest animals God ever had the pleasure of creating; they’ll wander off from the flock without any recognition that they are in grave danger. The shepherd, then, is charged with their protection and provision. The sheep go on with their activities day-to-day, having no idea of what their shepherd does to protect them.
Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of God. That’s why Jesus used this metaphor. We wander into situations that are highly dangerous, and
sometimes, we may not even realize when our Good Shepherd rescues us. But that’s the beauty of following Him. The Bible speaks of a “peace that is beyond understanding” available to those who trust in God. It’s the peace of knowing that even if the worst should happen, we still can count on Him to fulfill His promises to us. It’s the security of knowing that even when this life is over, we can spend eternity with God in heaven.*
If you’re sick with worry and stress, the promises of God are the only lasting remedy. He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He says, “No one can snatch you out of my hand.” He says, “I can even work out the bad things in life for your ultimate good.” Without this sort of faith in God, the blessings of peace will be hard to find, and impossible to maintain.
Real peace is only possible when you have the most power on your side, “peace through strength.” Think of it: the Creator of the universe is promising to keep you securely in His hand, as long as you are among those who hear His voice and follow Him. Could you ask for more security than that?
So that is where we must begin. We must listen for His voice and follow Him. Isaiah, a biblical prophet, wrote: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” And, just like sheep, the only time we’re truly in danger is when we aren’t following the Shepherd.
When we make the choice to repent, to turn away from “our own paths” and to put our faith in God to lead our lives, we can learn what it means to have true peace. Jesus put it this way: “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.”
Difficult times will come. Perhaps a few of the things you’ve been worried about will actually happen. But if you stick close to the Good Shepherd, you can rest assured that He is watching over you, that He is guiding your steps, and that even in difficulty, He wants to demonstrate His great love to you. And best of all, you can know that He will bring you safely to an eternal home of peace and joy in the end.
Bible Passages to Study: John 10, Romans 5.
*Did you know that assurance of heaven is possible? Most people “hope” they’ll gain entrance when they die, but they don’t know for sure. There is good news! John the Apostle wrote a letter about all the ways a relationship with Christ is life-changing, and then said, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” Read the book of 1 John in the Bible to learn more.
LOVE THAT NEVER FAILS
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.