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Peace in the Present
Do you live in the present, mindful of where and who you are? Are you at peace with that, or does your mind move back into the past and even regrets or pains? Or does it move out into the day ahead, planning in detail what you will do, as if you knew what would happen? I think most people struggle with mindfulness or staying in the present.
Isaiah the Prophet said, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you”(Isaiah 26:3). This admonition of trusting with all our heart and not our own understanding for God’s guidance (Proverbs 3:4-6) is difficult to do in our own strength. In fact it is impossible without the Holy Spirit in you. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”(Proverbs 19:21). Proverbs is full of this message, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Are you seeking the Lord first and always as you plan? Don’t ask Him to bless your plan, but seek His way, “The most excellent way”first and always(1 Corinthians 12:31).
So what are you planning today? Try the Epistle of James 4:13-16 for a little insight, “ Now listen, you who say, ‘“Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” I used to be a strategic planner, traveling the country to lead major medical centers and health systems in their planning processes. I am amused at the many assumptions we needed to make together. We needed contingency plans too. And does the Lord Almighty laugh at such plans? Yes, I think the Lord finds our pride to be pitied.
I have come to a place where seeking God in all things and praying continually is my desired plan. God’s Spirit actually gives me verses for writing essays and books. It is the way He wants us to live and it is mine with difficulty too. That does not mean that I sit back like a meditating monk and do nothing. I seek Him and hear from God and try to go where He desires. We want as Psalm 37:4 says to, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 21:2 says that God that He will give you your hearts desires, while Psalm 20:4 says, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill your purpose.” God has a purpose for your life and He will accomplish it, as you trust in Him. Isaiah 55, however, reminds us:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, “ says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts…So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void. But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
God makes clear that He is controlling and directing all things for His desires. He wants us to make our heart’s desires as His desires, not visa versa. And when we do Isaiah 55 completes this directive by saying, “It shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” His plans are good for those who are called by His name and love the Lord. They are, “to prosper and not harm us, for a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). In the next verses He tells us to:
“Search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and fro all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
God wants obedience, which brings peace and prosperity of heart if we are. Israel’s long journey in the desert and captivity was because of disobedience. All the trials and troubles were as a result of self-will and temptations leading to bad decisions. These prophetic words are also for us today. Peace in the present is found by continually thanking and praising the Lord, while praying constantly, “For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”(1Thessalonisans 5:16-18).
This discipline is difficult and requires silence and solitude with the Lord and continuous meditation on His sacred Word. Pastor/Teacher Chuck Swindoll in his seminal little book, Intimacy with The Almighty, speaks of these disciplines along with simplifying our lives. Get rid of distractions and seek God morning, noon and night and you will be in perfect peace no matter the circumstances.