Is there a “peace that passes all understanding?“
I don’t know if I’m normal … or even what normal is. I just know that every morning, from the moment I wake, my head buzzes with thousands of thoughts, ideas, regrets, wishes, hopes, plans, uh-ohs, reworked conversations, edits of everything I read, lists, and prayers. Lots of prayers. You see, I’m a writer. And writers write. All the time. Especially in our mind.
Some days I find this buzz overwhelming. Some days I need an escape, to shut down, and reboot. I need a refuge. My journey has taken years, decades even, but I’ve found that by seeking my refuge first thing upon awakening, that my days go much smoother.
Like many others, I start my mornings with quiet time. Some people fill their quiet time with prayers and Bible study, communing with Jesus, ordering their day and balance. I do all of the above … and then some. But the journey hasn’t been smooth.
At first I visualized an idyllic mountain meadow. Picture if you can a narrow path through dark woods. Just when you think you’re lost forever, a light ahead beckons. The trail opens onto a clearing where golden sunlight spills down. You lift your face and feel the warmth as you make your way to the center of the glen. Green grass and knee-high wildflowers abound. You drop to the ground and watch a caravan of puffy clouds sail across the sky. A gentle breeze stirs an earthy mix of verdant soil, sweet blossoms, and clean, rarified air. You’ve found it. Tranquility. Peace. Contentment … and an itch. Something digs into your back. You scratch. Brush away dirt. And remember the overflowing laundry hamper. The dermatology appointment you still need to make. The meal you promised to a sick friend. Your mind is off to the races.
I tried for a long time to make the remote glen idea work but finally gave up. Thinking a more familiar place might work better, I traveled in my mind to the beach—a remote, Caribbean island. Barefoot under the blazing sun, but the sugar-white sand doesn’t burn. (Imagination always trumps reality!) Turquoise water that sparkles with cool promises. Frothy waves lapping at the shore. A sea breeze stirs the air, redolent with the scents of coconut, lush vegetation and the briny smell that only comes from the ocean. A small slice of heaven. And then a crab crawls by. Clumps of dead seaweed wash up on the beach. An alert lifeguard stands from his ten-foot-tall white watchtower to peer out at the expanse. He raises binoculars to his eyes. Blue paste coats his nose. He wears a whistle around his neck. Alert. Diligent. Protective. Because there are riptides. Undertows. Dangerous sea creatures. And predators hiding in the deep. No calm here.
I tried another place. Somewhere remote. Somewhere pure and free from the world. A winter wonderland decked out in a blanket of pristine snow. Cold no germ could survive. But I could—in a warm parka with a hood trimmed in fur. Gloved and booted, I revel in the beauty of an untouched paradise. Until I fell through the snow. Buried. With no sense of direction. And no one to save me.
I’ve stored a whole library of such reveries, all lessons learned over the years until I finally found the real refuge. The only refuge. You see, our world is beautiful—just look around you. But sin afflicted all of mankind, all of the earth, including the animals and vegetation. Just as Esau forfeited his birthright, so too did Adam trade away our heritage in a moment of rebellion. Satan now holds dominion over an earth God bequeathed to man. There is no refuge for us here. Especially not in our minds.
I looked in all the wrong places for the peace that passes understanding only to realize at long last that it doesn’t exist here on earth. Now, I go to Jesus—to His throne room in heaven where His glory spreads a warmth and light so much greater than anything the sun can produce. Where multitudes crowd around Him singing praises. I creep into my niche at the rear of the throng, grateful to just be allowed in. It’s where I feel Him. And then He seeks me out in my little corner, takes my hand, and raises me up. I’m filled with His indescribable and unexplainable peace. Restored. Refreshed. Strengthened. For a little while, all is calm and perfect. When I leave His perfect presence, all I have to do to get through the rest of the day is remember my time with Him, remember His words, and call upon His name.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you …” ~John 14:27