People pursue several things in life; pursue materialistic things such as possessions, some pursue friendships & relationships, some pursue goals & achievements and others pursue things that a value can’t be placed on. The list is endless but the overall gist is that we are all in pursuit of something; but whether that pursuit is worthwhile or realistic is another question.
I have always wanted to share my thoughts on what I consider are worthwhile pursuits and it seems appropriate to discuss it now. It will not be a surprise to you that people across the UK and perhaps globally are in pursuit of toilet paper because of the current pandemic: COVID-19. Yes, the virus is spreading quickly but FEAR is spreading even more rapidly leading to some irrational pursuits of materialistic things such as tissue paper. I’ve heard people ask – why are people buying tissue paper?, and honestly, I cannot think of a specific reason to explain why the aisles are empty and people are fighting over toilet roll. At the end of the day it all boils down to fear, fear causes us to do irrational things and as I like to say “move mad unprovoked.” I would like to challenge us all to pursue PEACE in times of panic and chaos so this an appropriate time to discuss this.
Here are some definitions of the word pursuit:
an activity that you spend time and energy doing
an attempt to achieve something
the act of trying to achieve a plan, activity, or situation, usually over a long period
I would like to add that the pursuit is an intentional task in which you have to be willing to put in the required effort where necessary. To be in pursuit of something worthwhile a person has to remain focussed on that goal. Chris Gardner who is known for the inspiration of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness said: If you want something go get it. PERIOD.
The Hebrew word for “peace” which you may already be familiar with is “shalom”. Shalom – is a condition where there is freedom from disturbance: outwardly and inwardly. It also means safety, wellbeing, happy, friendly, healthy, prosperity and favour. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the Greek word for peace which is “irane”; it can mean peace, prosperity, one, quietness, rest, to set at one again and to restore. Isn’t the concept of peace a great thing? I am sure you will agree that it is and therefore is a worthwhile pursuit.
The devil deceives us into believing that various things in this world can give us the peace we desire, these include finances, relationships, social acceptance, achievements – however, they are all counterfeits of the peace which can only be found in God. I experience peace when I distract myself from the realities of life and deliberately ignore responsibilities however this sense of peace is temporary and before I know it I am back in a spiral of confusion, fear and panic. We are told in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ‘ the peace that God gives can’t be compared to that of the World. Life can be so unpredictable as we can tell from the COVID-19 pandemic; all that once provided safety and peace is now under attack -this is why we should not get complacent with a false sense of peace. As Christians and people of faith, we are to pursue real peace – God’s peace which surpasses human understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Steps to Pursuing Peace
- MAKE ROOM
- The enemies of peace are fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, anger, envy, pride. These compete for our inner peace. We can’t have the peace God promises if we are holding onto these traits. Therefore we need to take the necessary steps to remove & manage these elements in our lives.
- “The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” – Peace Pilgrim
- GET TO KNOW GOD
- Eliminating negative forces will only provide temporary peace. Eventually, some other crisis or issue may arise which threatens your “world” and once again you are in a limbo between peace and worry. True peace must be something more.
- Martin Luther said “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force. It is rather the presence of some positive force.” This positive force is God.
- A popular saying goes like this: NO GOD NO PEACE. KNOW GOD KNOW PEACE. Job 22:21 says, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” How do we get to know God? Simply by spending time with Him and in His Word.
- Now that we’ve been advised to #stayathome we have less busy schedules and whilst it’s easy to squander this time on social media apps (I’m guilty of scrolling endlessly on insta & creating TIKTOK videos), we should be intentional about spending quality time with our creator the positive force that can grant us peace.
- One important fact to remember amidst the storms of life is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Regardless of how much or how long the sea rages when God deems necessary it shall be still on His command. God allows all that happens to us to occur to fulfil His perfect plan and purpose. Even though the facts about a situation creates turmoil the unchanging truth about God’s nature and character creates peace.
- ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
- I am sure it’s not a surprise that this is on the list as you all know how I feel about positivity – Negative energy genuinely repulses me.
- It is easy to get agitated and focus on the negatives. Let’s use Coronavirus as an example; every day the news is filled with negativity. Newscasters are constantly reporting the number of cases and deaths – what about those that are surviving, recovering? What about the initiatives and new technologies that are being discovered? I’ve had to leave the living room whenever the news is on simply because there is nothing positive and it just aids and fuels more fear & anxiety – enemies of peace. Similarly, we have to physically and mentally remove ourselves from a space of negativity to fix our minds on positive things – that way inner peace can flourish.
- As Christians, we are commanded to not be conformed to this world (its fears & anxieties) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You can determine how you think in any given situation. Chose to refocus your mind to a new topic instead of dwelling on that which will steal your peace. Chose to trust God and He will help you. By guarding your mind you guard your peace thus inner peace will be yours.
- Isaiah 26:3 says; [God] will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind is stayed on you Because they trust in you”
- In Hebrew “perfect peace” = shalom shalom. The repetition highlights how profound this promise is.
- The message version reads: “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole.“
- Here we see the importance of the mind: When we keep our minds settled on God, He will give us peace in return. God will guard us against the devil’s attacks of distress.
- What your mind is stayed on communicates what you trust in. If you truly trust God your mind should stay firmly fixed on Him and Him alone.
- BE STILL
- As I mentioned earlier the pursuit is an activity so “being still” seems contradictory however being ‘still’ allows us to truly sense God’s presence.
- Whilst being “still” we can read and meditate on the promises God is communicating to us; that way we can be assured that God’s peace will infiltrate all areas of our lives.
- The presence of God is not the absence of trouble. He is a very present help IN time of trouble. Despite the raging storms, I pray that you have the overwhelming assurance that reminds you: God is your only shelter.
- BE OBEDIENT & WALK IN GOD’S WILL
- Psalm 119:165 says; Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
- If God reveals light to you, walk in it and do not insist on doing your own thing. This is illustrated in this favourite passage of mine: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22-25
- At the start of this year, I felt very uneasy, as though my heart and mind were battling each other. Choices and decisions I knew I had to make due to the light God had shown me in His Word but I was trying to do my own thing. I did not get the peace of mind I desired until I decided to stop being stubborn and align myself with God’s Will and Word.
- Whenever we feel a sense of unrest we should ask and search whether we are doing something that isn’t in harmony with God’s Will? When we seek the answers to that question we find explanations for the discord within our soul.
- BE A PEACEMAKER
- The same way you gain happiness and love by giving it away is the same way we retain peace. We ought to be peacemakers; when we spread peace we receive peace. This follows the simple principle of reaping what we sow; if we sow strife and discord we will surely reap the results which are enemies of peace.
- One of the ways we can best advertise Christ and showcase our lives as Christians is to emulate peace. Be that light in a world filled with darkness, chaos, fear and anxiety.
- I urge you all to communicate God to an anxious world, even though there are a lot of reasons to fret choose peace!
- This time at home should be used to reconcile relationships and live with peace with others (especially family members we are having to spend more time with during the Lockdown)
Let me close with another all-time favourite memory text from Philippians 4:6-7; Be anxious for nothing but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
You may or may not have enough tissue paper in your homes but I urge you to follow the steps discussed above in pursuing peace and most of all pray that the Lord Himself will grant you peace because He is the source of true peace.
Stay Blessed, safe and at home!
Finding the missing peace by Doug Batchelor