I just came back from an early morning walk during which I had an epiphany I wanted to share…I woke up with free-floating anxiety and racing thoughts as I sometimes do and headed out the door but not before reading a passage out of a Charles Stanley daily devotional; today’s reading (out of I Lift Up My Soul on “Experiencing God’s Best” said, “A true indicator of hearing God’s voice will be a new and complete sense of peace. Jesus said that He gives peace ‘not as the world gives’ but a peace ‘that passes understanding.’ His peace, therefore, must be the governing force of each decision we make.”
I guess it implanted itself in my brain, or heart, or soul because as I walked I started noticing everything around me…the vibrant colors of the flowers and even the grasses and leaves on the trees which are ever so slightly turning to their fall red and gold hues; the sound of a bird and crickets and cry of a hawk that flew overhead; the sweet smell of freshly cut grass which to me smells like cotton candy; the feel of the cool morning breeze. And it dawned on me that mindfulness leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to peace, and this peace filled me with contentment and joy and reverence for God who creates it all.
It was so unlike the “peace” I used to try to force upon myself in my darker days years ago which was really more like an escape from anxiety…an emptying and numbness of mind, heart and soul with the bottle, medications, drugs and whatever it took to not feel anything. This was the peace the world gave. And then God granted me the serenity to accept what I couldn’t change, the courage to change the things I could, and (some days) the wisdom to know the difference. Today I am experiencing the peace that He gives if I stay open to receive it.
Of course the world tries to snatch it away again. I walk in my neighborhood in the suburbs, and while I am very blessed that our neighborhood is dotted with and surrounded by woods, it is not out in the country; noise interrupted with dogs yapping and a car horn honking, sights interrupted with a neighbor coming out who didn’t smile or wave back, thoughts interrupted like worries about all of the things I have to do today and all of the things that are frustrating me…and my peace quickly evaporated. But this morning I was somehow able to grab that peace back again by re-focusing on the beauty of the nature around me and being thankful once again for “Indian summer” and the change of seasons we in parts of the US are fortunate to experience. I forced myself to be open to God’s goodness which made me mindful, grateful, and peaceful again. It is fleeting, this “peace full” feeling that God gives. But the epiphany was that I can experience it whenever I become open and willing to do so.
I realized that this peacefulness is what my characters in my books (and the Bible figures on which they’re based) really strive for in the end: Seth (Job) in The Faithful One, Chessa (Abigail) in The Peace Maker, Rory (Jonah) in The Runaway Prophet, and Eliza (Eve) in The Jealous Son. They too try to find it through “the world” but ultimately discover that God alone brings true peace as Jesus tells us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)