Friday, September 23, 2016

It Is Well With My Soul

            The world we live in is full of unrest. Every day we hear stories of shootings, wars, persecutions, troubles, and nothing but sorrow. Men and women of every nation up in arms over everything it seems like. My heart breaks for this world, my heart breaks for the lost souls out there who have no peace. We call out for peace. We hear our nation’s leaders call for peace, but all we get is more unrest. Some days I wonder how much more we can take. This world needs peace. But, let’s be realistic for just a moment. True peace will not come to this world until the author of chaos- our enemy, and the destroyer of mankind- is once and for all put to death. As long as this world exists, there will never be true peace. But, I do believe that we as followers of Jesus Christ can have peace. I believe that there is an eternal and internal peace that surpasses all understanding and can abide in us if we only believe.
Eno River State Park Durham, NC 
            This search for peace in my life started a few days ago. Not that I haven’t always sought it, but the past few months have been pretty rough on me. I have found myself under many burdens and trials and more stress than I care to think about. My temper became short, my tongue became sharp and my heart became greatly convicted because of it. I was not living a life that was pleasing to God because my attitude was terrible. I felt like there was this constant turmoil going on inside me and I needed peace from it all. I woke up one morning to the words of the old hymn, “It is well”. Even though it was not well, the words kept rolling through my mind, reminding me of my Father’s peace.
            “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”- It is Well With My Soul by Audrey Assad.
            But it wasn’t well; it wasn’t well with my soul and peace was nowhere near me. My soul was struggling and I needed my God. I took a day to myself and decided to go for a hike. As a business owner my days are filled with many cares and many stresses, more than I think I can handle some days! So when I can get a day away I take it and I run as fast as I can to somewhere I know I can be alone with my God. I needed to find peace. I craved peace. I hungered for peace.
            As I hiked through the glory of my Father’s creation I once again found myself singing the same hymn. I sat down next to the river and listened to the soothing sounds of the water rushing by. A peace began to settle over me. A peace washed over me like the river was washing over the rocks, cleansing them and soothing them with its cool, refreshing currents.
            “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 ESV
            His word started to renew me and I began to find some peace again. Little by little His words rang true and I knew that the only way I was every going to be experience complete peace was to be fully rooted and grounded in Him. The tough decisions I am facing about the business, the stress and worry of everyday life began to drift away. I took a deep breath and realized that no matter what was going on in my life, I could confidently say, “It is well with my soul.” Even though the world around me is in utter chaos, even though the pressures and stresses of keeping a business afloat, and the livelihood of all the people that work for me is upon my shoulders daily- I can, with all confidence say, “It is well with my soul.” How? How can I say this? Because I know and I am confident of Who my God is.
            “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-7
            Peace comes into our souls when we come to the end of ourselves. We cannot have peace or live in peace if we are full of self. We must make room for God if we are to experience the peace of God. Paul writes to us that we are to let our “reasonableness be known to everyone.” Our everyday lives are to be lived in peace and that peace should be visibly seen. It’s not a surface peace; a smile on Sunday morning just so everyone knows how happy you are to be a Christian kind of peace. It should be a deep rooted peace that comes from the knowledge that God is sovereign. You cannot know the peace of God until you acknowledge the sovereignty of God.
            This peace that Jesus promises us and Paul encourages us to walk in comes from your understanding of Who God is. If we want to truly experience the peace of God, then we must believe that He is for us. We must believe that He will provide for us all that we can ask or think. We must believe that He will protect us and guard us and that nothing shall befall us without His approval. We must believe that He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how many times we might fall. We must believe that He will equip us and carry us through all the storms of life, no matter how strong those storms may seem. We must believe that He is Who He says He is and that He will do for us all that He says He will. You cannot experience the peace of God until you believe that He is God.
Eno River State Park, Durham, NC 
            We can be at peace with God and at peace with the circumstances of this life because we believe that God will take up our cause and fight for us. Peace becomes a part of us when we give up the fear that He will not take care of us. We can live in peace and with peace when we believe that God always has our best in mind, and He always has our back. Peace resides in us when we, with confidence, can say “my God fights for me”. We cannot be at peace, nor can we confidently say it is well with our soul until we believe and trust that God is Who He says He is. We can freely release our anxieties, our fears, our worries, and our stress into His hands because He above all else and before all else, cares for us.

            God is sovereign. There is nothing, nor will there ever be anything outside of His control. We can live in perfect peace because we are confident that He is God and He has us safely in the palms of His hands. Anxiety, stress, worry and fear are characteristics of a life not surrendered to a sovereign God. They are indicators that we do not completely trust that He is who He says He is. When we can freely let go of these anxieties, fears, and worries and we too can say, with all confidence, standing in perfect peace, that “It is well with my soul,” when we believe that our God is Who He says He is. May the Lord keep you always in perfect peace. Amen.