Here I am, week four into my summer at JH Ranch and slowly getting into a routine and rhythm. Something I’ve noticed is that one of the things that made me fall in love with this place back in October last year is now something that I’m struggling with most and in the weirdest of ways. JH Ranch is a haven of rest, safety and peace; a place of restoration and reconciliation and hope, and yet, here I am, itching at my restlessness and lack of peace. Why? How? What is it that is making me feel a direct contrast to what I felt just eight months ago? When asking the Lord this, I felt Him reveal the answer to me and it may ring true to you too.
What God showed me was that over time and the various seasons of my life, I have defined ‘rest’ and ‘peace’ by contrast. I’ll explain. To me, ‘rest’ has looked like an escape from busyness, from a place or a situation. I would often feel rested by going for a long drive, sitting in a café an hour away from where I live and where I could be certain that I wouldn’t see anyone I know. It looks like lying on a beach and reading a book or taking part in an activity that I wouldn’t usually have (or make) time for. Ultimately, ‘rest’ has looked like the absence of something, generally the absence of that which is a part of ‘normal life’. And ‘peace’ has been something that’s been motivated by external circumstances, or even by my changing emotions and feelings on any given day. I have often lost my peace if there’s tension in relationships, a stressful situation or a feeling of help/hopelessness. Therefore, ‘peace’ has looked like the absence of discomfort.
Seeing this in plain sight, it made me realise that this way of thinking would make peace and rest pretty unattainable because… life. But God is teaching me that living in peace and rest is an internal job. And when you look at my life right now, it’s based in one of the most peace and rest-oriented environments, but if I don’t choose to contend for it within myself, I’ll be settling to live in a constantly frustrated state. Peace and rest shouldn’t come because of the absence of something or when I clock off work, or a situation is resolved, but because I’m actively choosing to join myself with the Prince of Peace and live in His rest. Just like an umpire of a game determines what’s ‘in’ and ‘out’, peace should be the lens in which we see through and can guard our hearts and minds. Even more so, we are called to live a life of peace.
“Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].”
— Colossians 3:15 (AMP)
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
— Phillippians 4:7 (ESV)
A friend of mine here at the ranch recently shared with me her revelation on peace and she has come to make it a priority in her life and how, even amidst the direst of circumstances, she can be steadfast. And it got me thinking. We often see peace as something that’s airy-fairy and almost sleepy and, I don’t know about you, but there have been times when people don’t seem fazed by things that it kind of annoys me. Like, “Are you even human?!” But I’m learning that Peace isn’t the denial of a struggle, rather it’s a backbone, a fortitude and a Person that we can choose to lean on and to strengthen ourselves in.
So! Welcome to my process of learning how I can foster a lifestyle of peace and rest, and not merely settling for passing moments, or being ruled by my external environments. The choice is worth it, I’m sure of it.