I feel the familiar pit of anxiety in my stomach, and I sigh. I think about how I haven’t spent enough time reading my Bible or praying lately, and I feel the guilt. The guilt that pushes me in the opposite direction of the thing I need most. “This is my fault,” I think, “so how can I go to God and ask for help?” I picture him responding like an indifferent or frustrated teacher, shrugging his shoulders and saying, “This is what you get for not listening and following directions.”
I hate how the enemy twists my thoughts. There are seeds of truth underneath some of these thoughts, but there’s a dump truck load of lies piled on top. Because of course spending time in the presence of the Lord of peace brings peace. And my need to make space for that in my life is real. But the lie on top that’s stinky like a rotten potato, is that this is all up to me. I have to somehow manufacture peace, by doing the right things. Reading my Bible enough, praying enough, and serving enough. Whatever “enough” means. So when I don’t feel peace, obviously I failed. So I feel ashamed, and I hide.
But sometimes, instead of hiding, I put on my goggles and gloves. I start peeling those smelly lies off, one by one, and I think I can see something growing underneath the garbage heap. A tiny little shoot of green, growing defiantly up out of the ground. I don’t remember planting that there. Where did it come from?
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16.
That’s right. I remember now. Peace is not something I can manufacture or perform my way into. Just like I can’t physically create the seed that causes a plant to grow. Peace is a gift. But also? Peace is a person. Isn’t that what we just celebrated at Christmas? The Lord of peace, literally giving himself to us in the form of a helpless baby, and eventually dying a criminal’s death? All so He could give us the gift of true peace, “at all times and in every way.” Even when life feels like a dumpster fire, and we feel like we’re doing everything wrong. Especially then.
Don’t turn away in shame, turn back to the Lord of peace. Tell him you can’t do this. And listen for his quiet whisper, “I know. That’s why I came.” Whatever happened in 2020, whatever you’re facing in the new year, you’re not alone. Be with Him, and let Him be with you. Unwrap the gift of His peace, over and over again, as often as you need.