Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

peaceOur fruitful summer of guest writers continues with Annie Rohde sharing this week.

If you look back on the pictures I took my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I am holding up a peace sign in 80-90% of them. One of my high school teachers gave me a book called The Quotable Sixties for my graduation present. I have a tattoo of a peace sign on my wrist that I got shortly after my 18th birthday. The first Bible verse I underlined when I started reading the Bible was Psalm 34:14b – “Seek peace and pursue it.” My son Jude’s middle name is Solomon, meaning peace.

Surely if all these things are true, I must be a peaceful person, right?

Not by most standards. And definitely not on my own. When I’m acting out of my own strength or out of my flesh, I struggle with my temper, finding the peace of rest, anxiety and depression. This makes sense, because it’s one of the Fruits of the SPIRIT not the fruit of the flesh. It’s not found when we are resting in ourselves, but when we are resting in the Spirit, when we are resting in Him.

I have done a lot of study on biblical, spiritual peace, but one of my biggest “aha!” moments happened in the children’s Discovery Sunday School class (Kindergarten – First Grade).

I served in that room while I was pregnant with Jude and it was a really tough pregnancy, emotionally. There were some medical issues and I simply wasn’t coping in a healthy way.

On this particular Sunday, I was worshiping with a bunch of kindergarten and first graders to a song based on Philippians 4:6-7. I was singing loud and doing all the actions when the words really sunk in. Aha! These verses include a promise of peace! (Don’t you just love a verse with a promise?)

Philippians 4:7 says that God’s peace transcends all understanding. Other versions say surpasses understanding, and that means roughly that God’s peace is above our human ability to comprehend. And the verses say that this amazing peace will guard our hearts and minds if we do one thing.

That one thing is in verse 6: we should present our requests (the things we are anxious or un-peaceful about) to God by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving. Petition, or supplication in other translations, is a rather formal word meaning ASK. And to do so with thanksgiving, means we ask with a heart of gratitude.

We surrender our worries to the Maker, with thanksgiving, because we trust that the God who created our hearts and minds knows how to calm them.

I began to bring every single thing that I was anxious about – the improbable and probable, the frivolous and serious – to God. Every. Single. Thing.

  •          I would pray about the same worry three times in one hour.
  •          I memorized the verses,
  •          I whispered the verses under my breath.

Then, God’s peace would find me.

At times, I’ve temporarily forgotten this “aha”. Worries and anxieties come and I try to create peace instead of surrendering to God’s peace. I seek peace in scrolling, in food, in a post-bath-time drink … in my own strength.

But God always nudges me back to Him. I can’t completely forget His peace because His peace is so much better than anything I can create. The Maker designed me for His peace.

I invite you to read Philippians 4:6-7 out loud to yourself and discover (or rediscover) one of the Maker’s promises.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

For those interested, here’s the song we sang in Discovery:

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