I hear the question. I see the need in your face, the gap in your heart. Everyone is looking for peace. To somehow get to a place where things feel right, where the wrongs are righted, the gaps filled. I see you groan as you rise. As you set out on another day, tightening your fists, determined to somehow make it a day of peace. I feel your strain, your good intentions, your willpower pushing you through the hours. I feel it all, because I’ve known it. I’ve been there right beside you, straining and striving. And in the midst of the trying hard and the doing good the still small voice remains unheard.
It is a simple concept. So simple it seems unattainable. Simplify. Slow. Be still. Sit with the Lord. If you will just empty a portion of your day of all the lists, of all the pressing deadlines, of all the things to do, and surrender your time to being with the Lord it is then when you know transcending peace.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. A gift that we cannot achieve removed from Christ. Separate yourself from the vine and your fruit will not be. Abide in me, He calls. Remain in me, as fruit on a lifegiving vine. Apart from me you can do nothing. You will wither and be thrown out. But abide in me and you will know my peace.
The fruit of the Spirit is Peace. Not of our own works, but the work of God.
We cannot find peace without finding God.
So we go out on grand expeditions. Travel far and wide. Resign yourself to wait until the perfect circumstances come around. Sign up for as many opportunities as possible where we might find God, thus finding His peace.
Some call the habits of stopping and being with the Lord the spiritual disciplines. An incredibly appropriate title. In our fast-paced, over-busied world it absolutely requires discipline to stop and let your spirit meet the Spirit of the Lord.
It is a matter of trust really. Trusting God with your time, your commitments, your tasks, trusting that He will take care of all the items on the list while you sit quietly with Him. Trusting that He will multiply your time and that you will gain by giving up your time. And trusting that He is faithful. He will meet you in that time. He will sit down with you and as you open yourself to Him He will pour Himself into you.
When you finally choose to trust and choose to discipline yourself, when you finally open your schedule and open up your heart to connect your spirit with his amazing things happen. Transcending things happen. Peace happens.
Be clear here: it is not the disciplines that bring peace. It is the continual opening of ourselves to communion with the Spirit that brings peace. We can routinely open the Bible daily, pray before every meal, and go to church on Sunday and never feel any peace. The disciplines have become the focus. But they must never be the end in themselves, but rather the means to bring us before the Prince of Peace to receive that which he desires to give us.
“The disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where he can work within us and transform us. By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace. God ordained the Disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we place ourselves where he can bless us.” -Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline
The promise of transcending peace that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4 comes after the prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings. The great peace that keeps us from stumbling that David proclaims in Psalm 119 is the result of a deep love for the Word of God. We know peace when we know God. And we know God when we put distractions aside and daily come before His throne with open hearts.
Maybe it is a devotional. Maybe it is a journal. Maybe it is a stack of commentaries and a Greek Bible. Maybe it is the Psalms and quiet hymns. Maybe it is scripture memory on the commute to work. Maybe it is a prayer walk. Maybe it is reading the Word together at a meal, or praying before bed. There is no rule about how you are supposed to spend time with the Lord. The thing is to do it.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 29:12-14
There is no room for half-hearted seeking. The finding is for those who seek wholly.