(Republished with permission from Press Service International, for Christian Today Australia )
Matt Redman’s song, Heart of Worship, begins with these lyrics:
“When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come”
As wonderful as life may be, we will all face challenges. The pain and the heartache that come with disability, tragedy, unmet dreams and death are very real. Yet, some of the most incredible, hopeful and inspiring testimonies are seen in those who carry these burdens but maintain a vibrant joy in Christ that blesses those around them. They persevere, even through circumstances beyond their control, and acknowledge both the struggles and the grace of God at work in their lives. I have personally been impacted, inspired and encouraged by many such people and the peace that they carry in this sometimes overwhelming world.
Philippians chapter 4, verses 6-7 says this:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians chapter 4, verses 6-7 )
Peace like this can help us finish well on earth.
. . .
Stripped back to surrender
I want to surrender to God. I know that His way is better. I see that in the Bible, I’ve seen it in countless testimonies throughout my life, and yet I catch myself acting out of my own strengths and securities time and time again. Surrender can come easiest when there is nothing left to fall back on. Times like those, though dark and difficult, remind me that God has everything in His hands. Surrender shows me that God truly does know and provide everything I need.
When we surrender, we lay ourselves down before God and keep nothing back. We are vulnerable, but can trust God to reveal, teach and lead us. We give up our control, our ambitions, our strengths, and the things we have, to follow where and how God leads. In surrendering to God, we trust Him with our life. We choose to say, “use me Lord”, in the valleys, the mountains and the paths between.
. . .
A peace from above
Horatio Gates Spafford is the writer of the well-known hymn “It is well with my soul”. During his life, he lost seven children in tragic circumstances, many properties to fire, and suffered from malaria which ultimately led to his death. He knew grief, loss, and sickness, and yet, as he passed over the particular area of ocean which had taken the lives of his four daughters through shipwreck, Spafford wrote these words:
“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”
How he and his wife continued to live, serve and bless those around them despite every heartbreak is an incredible testimony. It also reminds me that the peace of God can cover any hardship, circumstance and anxiety in our lives.
How do we obtain this peace? It comes through knowing God and letting Him have the greatest influence on our lives. With social media and news outlets dispersing so many opinions, agendas and expectations, it is no wonder the world seems complicated, judgemental and confusing at times. Instead, we can fill our minds and hearts daily with the grace and peace of Christ.
. . .
Those who have treasure
Eternal treasure may be stored up in many ways, and I often think of these words from Matthew chapter 19, verse 29:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
The passage goes on to speak about the first being last and the last being first. God does not see as we see. He does not reward as we reward. He knows our innermost being and He knows our hearts, Yet, it can be hard to change our mindset.
I know the eternal reward is better, but I still go for the quick feels on many occasions. We make choices every day and cash in on both eternal and earthly rewards. However, those who truly understand and invest their treasure in Christ have a confidence that exudes integrity, generosity, truth and love without fear. The physical and earthly losses they face, whether in time, possessions or relationships, cannot compare to the treasure they have in Christ and their testimony shines bright.
. . .
When life on earth is done, we will all stand before the throne of God. What will remain? My achievements, possessions, friends and fun will not endure, but my heart will be laid bare and I hope it is found fully surrendered to Christ. Through the book of 2 Kings, we see snapshots of many kings; some who feared God, some who rampantly disobeyed Him, and some whose hearts were changed through the course of life. I want to be like the faithful kings, the ones who finished well. Let the peace of God lead, strengthen and be with us all.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians chapter 3, verse 16)