“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)
It’s easy to feel peaceful and live with an untroubled heart when you are sailing calmly in a tranquil sea. But what happens when the storms of life are making it feel like the boat you are on is capsizing? It can sometimes feel like there’s a disconnect between what Jesus is teaching and what we are experiencing. John 14 records the words of Jesus to His closest friends just before He is betrayed by Judas. The disciples are a bit confused by what He’s saying – in particular that He’s about to leave them. I wonder if, in the turmoil of the next 48 hours, they managed to remember any of Jesus’ final words, particularly the verse above. It’s an interesting thought. Personally, what I’ve noticed is that when life throws rubbish at me, I tend to forget Jesus’ words and I allow my heart to be troubled and my life and emotions to be anything but peaceful! I am often like the disciples who scattered, hid, doubted and questioned Jesus after He was arrested.
My recent situation has often felt bleak – the contract on our house ends at the end of November and I the only options available seemed too far away. Moving out, as well as a few other circumstances, has meant that I’ve been a bit short on money as well. Now, I’d obviously love to say that I have spent the last month full of faith in a God that loves me and always provides, but sometimes (read: a lot of the time) I’ve been full of fear and doubt – I’ve been anything but peaceful! My heart has been troubled and I have been afraid of what was to come. Last week was particularly bad. On Monday I was crying and asking someone, “I have no where to live – have I made the right decisions this year?” By Friday, with no solutions on the horizon, my conversations with God looked a little like this: “HELP! Are you actually going to come through? This is rubbish! What should I do? Why don’t you help?”
It was during one of these conversations that God started speaking to me through John 14:27. I was reading this verse and a few realisations came to mind:
- “Peace I leave with you” – Jesus has left his peace with His followers – it is available here!
- “My peace I give to you” – not only this, but He actually gives us His peace – it’s a gift! He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and He gives us His peace! Let that truth sink in!
- “I do not give as the world gives” – the world makes promises but rarely comes through on them. It offers and promises so much, but never quite gives the delights that it spoke of. The gifts that the world gives are often empty and they never truly satisfy.
- “Do not let your hearts be troubled” – this is a warning! Don’t let your heart be troubled, don’t even give it permission to feel like that! Don’t let it happen!
- “Do not be afraid” – another warning – don’t let fear creep in! When circumstances look bleak, do not be afraid. Instead, look to Him and receive the peace that He gives to you.
I found this challenging! We have a choice! He has left His peace for us and we can live in this peace, but often we allow our hearts to be troubled and afraid. He says “do not let your hearts be troubled”! Don’t give it permission. The Amplified translation adds: “[Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” On Friday, as I read this verse, I allowed the depth of it to penetrate my heart for the first time. I had been living in fear with a troubled heart. I was not peaceful. And so I started praying:
Fear, you do not have permission to be here.
Heart, stop being troubled!
No more feeling unsettled, no more feeling agitated, no more feeling disturbed!
Jesus, I receive your peace.
Jesus, I receive your peace.
Jesus, I receive your peace.
And you know what? I had to do that over and over again. Because sometimes you know something in your head, but it takes a little bit of time for it to get to your heart. As I prayed, slowly I felt that peace. Slowly, slowly, slowly my mood changed and I began to trust. I let go of the troubles and received His peace.
Life is not easy
Here’s something that I am constantly learning: life is not always the easiest thing. There are ups and downs. There are calm and peaceful seas but there are also raging storms. And sometimes Jesus asks us to step out the boat and walk on the stormy waters. It would probably be a lot easier to walk on water in a calm sea. But instead He asked Peter to step out of the boat when there was wind and rain and waves. He asked Him to step out of the boat in the night time when it completely dark. Sometimes He asks us to trust Him in the hard circumstances too! Sometimes He asks us to trust Him when we cannot see the outcome. Am I going to trust Him when there is nowhere to live and little money in the bank? That has been the question! In that hard moment the tough option is to lay down my troubled heart, take His hand and step out into the darkness and into the waves.
Here’s an interesting thing: after praying and going on this process on Friday, I returned home to find some amazing people had offered me a place to live. On Sunday, I received an anonymous envelope with £50 in it which has alleviated some of the money issues and on Monday I received a £20 Amazon gift voucher. I’ve always been pretty convinced that God is the best Dad and loves to provide for us. Sometimes He does straight away! But sometimes He leads us through the storm to places where we learn to trust Him in a deeper way. Why does He do this?!! My rational mindset says it would be much easier to get to know Him in the easier times. But there are lessons we learn in the stormy circumstances that we cannot learn in a tranquil sea. Because it is in that place of trust that we get to know Him better – we learn that He does come through in the most desperate of situations! We depend on Him more when we actually need to depend on Him! I have experienced a deeper sense of His peace in the last few days than I would have if I’d managed to find somewhere to live two months before. We deepen our trust in Jesus and our relationship with Him in the storms of life. That’s the reality!
Trust without borders
I have been listening to ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong United a lot recently. I love the lyrics at the end of the song:
“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
This is my prayer! Holy Spirit, lead me to the places where my trust in you has no boundaries! I want to know you and have that deep relationship with you. I want to live in peace in the storms with an untroubled heart!
- Are you living in His peace or is your heart troubled?
- What steps do you need to take to live with an untroubled heart?
- Do you find it easy to trust that God will provide in the stormy circumstances? Do you find it easy to receive His gift of peace?
I’d recommend taking time to listen to the song I quoted above and allowing Holy Spirit to release the peace that Jesus left as a gift for you into your heart. Accept His gift. It’s free. I’d rather live with an untroubled heart!