Peace: Sunday

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” [Isaiah 26:3]

I mentioned a few days ago that as I sat down to write these devotions about peace, I asked myself, “What steals our peace?”  I want to bring these thieving things into the light, that we might reckon with them and be able to experience peace anew this season.  And I believe that one of the things that steals peace from us is misplaced trust.  Does anything make us feel as insecure, exposed, or betrayed as broken trust?

I spent some time in North Africa the summer that I graduated from college.  I learned a few things while I was there.  Among them:

  • I don’t need as much as I think I do (one pack is enough).
  • Don’t ask what the meat is, just eat it.
  • A single oasis can sustain 10,000 palm trees in the middle of the desert.
  • There is a giant sea UNDER the sand, so there are parts of the desert that are totally covered in salt (where the water evaporated), and it looks like snow. In the desert. Which is really disorienting.
  • It is every bit as sandy and desolate as it looks in the pictures.
  • Camels are really, really cool.

One morning while I was there, I was reading through the book of Jeremiah.  As I did, a passage leapt off the page at me; it came alive.

“This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." [Jeremiah 17:5-8]

I understood this passage in a way that I never could have before I’d seen the Sahara.  A parched place – I know what that looks like now.  I know the dry air and the lifelessness.  I’ve seen the "salt land."  Those aren't cryptic, mystical Bible-time words.  There really is salt!  And it is barren and hazy, and nobody lives there.   The analogy is pretty clear - when I place my trust in myself, anything that I can do or achieve (or anything anyone else can do or achieve, for that matter), I'll never be satisfied.  I'll always be thirsty.  I won't be prosperous, I'll be all shriveled up and near death, spiritually speaking.

But I also had the privilege of seeing an oasis.  I hiked down a rocky mountain of sand, followed a path carved through the palm trees to find a teeny tiny stream, so small there is only room for one person to drink from it at a time.  This tiny spring yields THOUSANDS of trees, whose leaves are always green, and they never fear when heat comes, and they never fail to bear fruit.  I’ve even tasted coconut milk!  In the desert.  God really can make streams in the wasteland - and He does.

So if you’re feeling parched and a little shriveled up (as I suspect many of us are if we’re honest with ourselves), where is your trust?  Are you perhaps relying on things that are less reliable than God?  You don’t have to feel betrayed or frightened anymore.  Your trust doesn't have to stay misplaced.  God is worthy of your trust, and you can have His perfect peace today.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” [Isaiah 26:3]

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." [Proverbs 3:5-6]