Planning Peace

Reading through some of Proverbs this morning, I came across a verse that really struck me. Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”

I often associate joy with suffering. One is a product of the other (if you allow it). James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:1-5 have been verses I have clung to throughout my life. When suffering comes alongside you, as a believer you have the opportunity to truly know joy and have the ability to rejoice in any circumstance.

But this verse in Proverbs enlightened my heart to another way the Lord provides joy to His people:  through planning peace.

I use the ESV, but other versions say those who promote peace, and those who are counselors of peace. But the basic idea is still the same:  being a peacemaker, desiring to fill your life and others with peace and not strife.

So what exactly does that look like? How can I plan or promote peace?

I will be the first to say I don’t have all the answers. But what I do know is that right now my main ministry is to my family. So, as a wife and a mother I need to plan peace in my heart and home.

1. Be still with the Lord. That means setting aside a few moments each morning to just sit, be still, and read the Word. It might not always be quiet, especially if my little girl is crying through her nap. But I do my best to orchestrate a pleasant environment to commune with my sweet Savior. I know it’s hard to be still, to leave the phone in the other room, to stay away from social media, but it’s necessary for the heart for so many reasons. Completely necessary.

2. Keep the house clean and organized. For me, planning peace also means not allowing the dishes, laundry, and dust to overflow. That means taking a little time each day to do simple chores so that my house is in good order. If the house is clean and in good order, stress doesn’t begin to creep in. If the barriers are put up between stress and I, then I can be happier and more content and in turn be a more encouraging, loving, and fun wife and mother. When I do little things each day, I have more time to spend devoted to my family. They get all my attention. They get all of me.

3. Seek forgiveness and forgive. Being a planner, or promoter, of peace also means dealing with sin. I need to be able to look inside my heart, at my actions, thoughts, words from the day before, and seek forgiveness from my Heavenly Father and then from my husband. That gives me the opportunity to learn from my sinful ways, grow in grace and truth, and in turn be the wife and mother I’m called to be. And when I examine myself, I have more of a pure heart to gladly forgive others. And when you walk in forgiveness, you don’t allow bitterness and strife to develop.

4. Live a healthy lifestyle. That can mean so many different things to different people. But for us, that means meal planning, taking Juice Plus+ and eating as much whole food plant based nutrition as we can, and being active. That might sound silly for what this post is talking about. But hear me out. When I plan meals I know what is coming for the evening. I already know what it is going to take to prepare the meal and can try to have it ready for my husband when he gets home. When meals are planned I don’t have to rush to the grocery store last minute or try to throw something together or be tempted to eat out. And when I’m doing all I can to be healthy, I am giving my best self to my family. I can’t serve my family to the best of my ability when I’m sick. So I need to do all I can to present to them the healthiest version of me, not only for the present time, but the future.

5. Have a budget and save money. Money can easily rip apart any peace that exists between you and your spouse. Establishing a budget lets you both know financial expectations and where the money is going. If you don’t have a handle on your money, it can cause an awful amount of discord. And if you save money, even if it is just a little at a time, whenever something comes up that you didn’t expect, you are ready for it. Preparation can take a lot of the stress out of stressful circumstances.

Some of those might appear silly to you. And you might have other categories to add. But for me, those are what I can do to be at peace and promote peace in my family. My family deserves the best me that I can give them. When I am disciplined enough to take a few moments each day to do these things, contentment and peace, happiness and joy will radiate from me to my family. And they are so worth it.

It seems natural that when my heart and home are peaceful, joy will follow.

Take time to plan peace.

And I have a suspicion that more than joy might just come along.

 

Advertisements

Just Keep Walking: Lessons from Isaiah

My heart inclines towards certain passages of Scripture. It just needs to cherish those trusty truths and dwell on the past faithfulness of God in order to be strengthened for the current day’s struggles, temptations, and troubles.

Sometimes the Lord will refresh my heart with a new insight to a passage. But other times He directs me to a place we have tarried before. He invites me to sit with Him and remember the way He comforted and sustained, gave peace and strength in previous days. 

As I’ve traveled into motherhood, the Lord has continually brought to mind a few verses in Isaiah. They have been a source of refreshment and encouragement through several trials and uncertainties.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you notice how the last part doesn’t make the progression from walking to running to soaring, but rather the opposite? I will forever remember the teaching I heard on this in an Old Testament class at Union by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Kelvin Moore. There is an intentional reason for this order of things. The author describes different stages in life: mounting up with wings like eagles, running, and walking. He goes from what is least common to what is most common.

There are moments in this Christian journey when we feel like we are soaring. Happiness, joy, peace, excitement fill our hearts. Our yearning for the Lord and His Kingdom cannot be contained. These mountaintop experiences give us such renewed energy for the faith and set our hearts on fire for our great God. Praise God for moments like that. But, most of life is not lived on the mountaintop.

Most of life is not spent soaring like eagles.

Most of life is not even spent running.

Most of life is spent walking.

Usually fainting is not a consequence of merely walking. But the author declares that our God will renew our strength and give us the ability to walk and not faint. Why? It’s the everyday walking that wears us down. The dirty floors, piles of dishes, stressful jobs, financial hardships, endless laundry to do, continuous meals to prepare. The feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, weakness. The subtle temptations and the giant reminders from the enemy of past sin. Thinking about daily struggles is enough to make you want to faint.

But this is a call to remember that the Lord provides what His people need.

Some days it takes everything you have to simply breathe. So just keep breathing. And know that Lord is holding you and calming your weary soul.

Some days will be painful. And on those days know our God comforts, heals, restores. And just know He will give you the strength to keep going.

Some days won’t necessarily be hard, but will just feel mundane. And so when you feel stuck, know the Lord is sustaining you and growing you even in the routine.

And everyday, know the Lord is preparing you for something greater. That greater thing may come in this life, but if it doesn’t it will most certainly come in the next.

So keep walking, my friend. It’s in the walking that we learn to truly trust our Savior and depend on Him for our every need.