Hunkered down in our windowless hallway, we listened to the battery-powered radio. News updates crackled as the howling wind forced the rain through the seams of our front windows. Hurricane Alicia threw her bolts of lightning down on Houston, flooding streets and pounding fifty year old trees to near death. I hid in the hall afraid that at any moment a tornado might drop from the sky and wipe us off the earth.
The disciples, however, stood in a boat out IN THE STORM (Mark 4:35-41). No walls to hide behind, they felt nature’s full fury. The tempest tore at the boat; waves endeavored to toss them into the sea; the disciples feared for their lives. Once awakened, Jesus stood up. Spoke.
And the storm stopped.
Just as in the beginning when God spoke and order overtook chaos, Jesus speaks and chaos is conquered. One word.
Two Kinds of Peace
In today’s tense climate, peace appears to have passed us by, but the truth that reigned for the disciples that day on the sea remains true. Where Christ abides, peace abounds.
So, logic would say, bring Christ into the chaos. But, how?
It helps to understand there are two types of peace. A peace with God. And a peace in God.
First, to have peace with God happens when our faith makes us right in God’s sight (Romans 5:1). To be justified by Christ is to find peace with God. We no longer wrestle to believe, deny His existence, or resist His love.
“The supernatural power for standing firm under the mounting pressures of daily life is only possible through the deep-seated sense of peace and confidence found in a saving relationship with God.”Priscilla Shirer, p.108
In other words, no matter what storms are brewing, when we are secure in our relationship with God, we have the peace of knowing nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
Second, to have the peace of God is to have His peace–that inner tranquility and calmness of the soul–in us.
Peace starts with relationship; it culminates in eternity. But in between exists a whole lot of life. In all our earthly living, the Spirit empowers us to develop and display the character traits of Christ (Galatians 5:22), like peace. Jesus declares over His followers:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 14:27, NLT
Peace, my friends, is already in you. It’s a gift from Jesus to you. If you have yet to pick up that pretty package, it’s time to open it now. And everyday. Instead of leaving peace in the corner abandoned and unappreciated, we “choose to cultivate and activate it in our lives” (Priscilla, p.110).
Stepping into the Shoes of Peace
The enemy doesn’t want us activating peace; he wants us falling to pieces. He knows the power of Christ’s peace, so he uses every opportunity to stir the chaos and upend our stability (p.95). But, we’re given shoes to keep us on our feet (Ephesians 6:15).
Roman soldiers laced up shoes that looked something like a sandal-boot to protect their feet. Similarly, we can cover ourselves with prayers of thanksgiving, surrender, and victory. Pouring over us like the blood of Christ, these prayers soak us in the grace of God–because we trust our peace with God. We’re protected by the shalom Hashem that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7, Orthodox Jewish Bible).
But these Roman soldier shoes didn’t just protect, they also anchored the men to the ground with hobnail spikes. Comparable to athletes’ cleats, these fighting shoes gave soldiers a firm grip in the dirt each time they planted their feet in battle. God’s peace grounds us. Each time we employ spiritual practices, we are digging our feet into the soil of Christ’s love and truth. We become immovable in His peace.
These spikes also make us ready. Paul incorporates a Greek word in this shoes-of-peace-verse that is not used anywhere else in Scripture–hetoimasia, which means firm-footing and preparedness (Ephesians 6:15). Peace with God makes us ready for all the chaos because we have intimacy with Him. Peace of God makes us ready because in us reigns all the assurance we need to trust Him. No matter what.
Lord Jesus, thank You for your peace. We admit that peace feels elusive most days, but today we choose to put on your peace like a pair of soldier shoes. As we slip our feet into the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, we feel your supernatural protection come over us. Our feelings stabilize and our thoughts center on You. We feel our sharp tongues soften and our emotional walls tumble. We notice how the spikes give us a firm grip in a world that is anything but firm. We sense how your peace helps us keep our footing when everything around us is swirling. And we feel our spiritual confidence growing–because we trust You. And love You. And hope in You. Thank You for giving us this remarkable gift of peace, Father. May it continue to guard our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(inspired by Philippians 4:6-7 and Priscilla Shirer in The Armor of God, pp.98-99)
The Practice of Silence
The psalmist asks God to give him an “undivided heart” so that he might praise God with all his heart (Psalm 86:11-12). How do we, like the psalmist, have undivided hearts? One word, the same word that would describe the winds and the waves after Jesus speaks peace.
Jessica LaGrone explains that the spiritual practice of silence happens at three levels–outer silence, inner silence, and the silence of the will (p.99).
Outer silence is the easiest–find a quiet place. As in no voices, no background TV, no music. Just silence. If you’re wiggling a bit, it’s probably because we’re generally not a culture of silence. Some even resist it. And, if you struggle with control, perfection, or the illusion of fixing all things, silence may be especially difficult. But we sit in silence in order to be with God.
Once we get quiet on the outside, we can settle our thoughts on the inside. Every time the inner voice gets going or the to-do list starts churning, stop–maybe even write things down–and begin again with grace for yourself. Be encouraged that in our first attempts, our moments of inner silence will be upwards of two minutes. But the more we practice silence, the better we’ll sit in it.
Silencing our wills is the point of it all: ”to be able to sit before God without asking, longing, or needing. Just to be with Him” (p.99). Silencing the will is to fully surrender to God’s will with an “undivided heart.” It doesn’t feel natural because we’re used to going before God will our lists of needs. But the practice of silence opens us up to the supernatural way.
Lord Jesus, You are the calmer of all storms. You are the stillness in the chaos. You are the silence I need. Help me to want to seek silence. Help me to want to sit in your presence without lists or agendas but with an undivided heart that seeks only to dwell with You. Meet me, Father, in the chaos of my mind and life, and help me find the peace of your presence. I look to You for all my needs. I lay down control. And plans. And perfection. I surrender my will for yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(inspired by Psalm 86:11-12 and Jessica LaGrone’s Out of Chaos, pp.98-99)
Prayer of Victory
When we put on our shoes of the gospel of peace, we are made ready–not only to defend ourselves from the onslaught of the enemy but to push our way forward. Wearing the shoes of peace is “about going into the enemy’s territory from a strong position of victory and taking back ground he’s sought to steal from us” (Priscilla, p.114). Satan knows that where there is no peace, there is no victory (p.92).
Lord Jesus, the truth is sinking in–the war we’re in is not of the world; it’s spiritual. So, we are grateful for all the spiritual weapons You equip us with so that we can fight back and even take back lost ground. These mighty weapons of God have divine power to demolish strongholds. So, instead of standing in the storm, or in the middle of the battlefield barefooted and hopeless, we slip our feet into the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We feel the protection of your peace immediately and dig our feet into the ground so that we can make our stand. Each time we surrender a thought, emotion, or our will to You, we gain another step of ground the enemy has taken. Today, I step into all the victory of the Crucifixion where death and sin are defeated. I step into all the victory of the Resurrection where I am given new life in Christ. I step into all the victory of the Ascension where Christ rose into glory to reign over all powers and principalities, giving me reign over them, too. I step into all the victory of Pentecost where I am Spirit–empowered and equipped so that I might go into the world to proclaim your peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(inspired by 2 Cor 10:3-4, Isaiah 52:7, Ephesians 6:10-20, and Victor Matthews’ “Warfare Prayer”)
- Week Six Practice = Silence. Perhaps this is one of the hardest of all spiritual practices. It requires intentional set aside time where we get still AND quiet–outside and within. But our Helper will meet us in our desire to get alone with God so that we can be with Him. For the sole purpose of being with Him.
- Week Six Prayer = Use the prayers from this post, which I’ve pulled from Priscilla’s The Armor of God study, Dr. Matthews’ “Warfare Prayer,” and Scripture. Speaking prayers that have been written by other believers adds to our arsenal of retaking ground the enemy has taken and claiming victory in Jesus’ name!!
- Next week we’ll talk more about community, but for now know that standing with other believers under the banner of Lord Jesus is where strength and power can lead us into freedom–true freedom in Christ–from the enemy, and over our own brokenness. Comment below or join in the conversation on Instagram to encourage other women in the battle.
- A friend sent me Jeremy Camp’s song, “When You Speak,” on the day I was editing this post. I’m in awe. God’s ability to speak into the chaos of life–and life has been a bit chaotic of late–with such precision moves me. Floors me. So, of course, I’ve added it to our Abide playlist:
When You speak
I’m found in the sound of peace, be still
The wind and the waves bow to Your will
You drown my fear with a love more real
Than anything, anything I feel
When You speak
(“When You Speak” by Jeremy Camp)
- Resources for this week–just a list you can come back to as needed. No expectation for this series:
- Emily P. Freeman’s voice exudes peace, so if you need something to settle your spirit, may I recommend her new playlist–of her reading some Psalms. The best!
- Jessica LaGrone’s book, Out of Chaos: How God Makes New Things from the Broken Pieces of Life.* (again)
- Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God.* (again)
- Dr. Matthews’ Warfare Prayer (again)