Peace: Thursday

Last week Dan took me to my very favorite bagel place for brunch.  I was so excited, I got up early, put on my favorite cardigan, and chatted Dan’s ear off the whole way there.  But when we walked in and I saw the giant, sprawling menu, something happened.  I froze.  Hmmm, do I want my bread and butter (an everything bagel with plain cream cheese)?  Or do I want one of their signature cream cheese flavors?  Or a bagel sandwich?  Or soup!  And a Panini!  Coffee?  Juice?  Figi water in that really cool bottle?  Then some tiny little college student in work-out clothes came in and ordered a salad – sigh.  Maybe I should get a salad. Dan interrupted my train of thought, “Are you ready?”

“No!” I huffed, with an incredible amount of frustration and attitude.  Where did that come from?  Hunger, indecision, and inner-turmoil are not a good combination.  I ended up having to sit down at a booth to cool off.  I was so overwhelmed with choices and pressures and influences.  Should I try to be healthy like the salad-chick?  Or be brave and try something new?  Or be true to myself and get my bagel?  What started out as a lovely morning turned into a giant stress-fest where Dan ended up watching Madeline as I stared at the menu until I didn’t want anything at all, because I couldn’t decide.

My inner conflict had totally robbed my morning of its joy, relaxation, and communion with my husband.  And I believe that too often, our inner conflicts rob us of our joy, peace, and communion with Christ.

We want to be fully committed to Jesus, but we’re afraid of what that might mean, so we straddle the fence.  We want to be obedient to Christ, but we’re so afraid of what people will say about our blatant “Christian-dom” that we make little compromises (if there is such a thing).  For a short time we might think that we’ve beat the system with our fence-straddling, that we are somehow enjoying the best of both worlds.  But when I was a teenager my mother taught me that “a non-decision is a decision.”  Choosing to straddle the fence is choosing not to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Simple as that.  We can try to delude ourselves for a while, but in not making a choice, we are making one.

If there is some inner-conflict going on in your soul today, if your conscience is all bristled up because of something you’ve said or done.  If you are torn by all sorts of pressures and influences (bigger than a bagel menu).  If you find yourself saying, “I trust you to provide Lord, but not enough to tithe.”  “I’ll go where you send me, Lord, unless it’s too far from my family.”  “I want to live for you, unless it means my coworkers knowing that I’m a Christian.”  “I want to get to know you, Jesus, unless it means getting up early to read the Bible.”  “I want to have a relationship with You, but praying makes me uncomfortable.”  “I want to be a generous person, unless it means doing without something I want.”   I guarantee that if you are conflicted in this way, if you are torn between two masters, then you aren’t experiencing God’s peace as fully as you could if you surrendered the whole of your life to Him.

Psalm 86:11 says, “…Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”  This is the cry of my heart.  Oh, God, give me an undivided heart!  Will you make this the cry of your heart today?  Let’s stop settling for lesser gods and lesser lovers – and stop settling for peace that comes from comfort food or retail therapy or a good smashing of plates against the wall.  Let’s pursue the kind of peace that comes from a right relationship with God, the kind of peace that transcends all understanding, and that blesses you and comforts you in the deepest part of your soul.

“All I’ve got, All I am, All my dreams, All my plans, I’m holding back, I’m holding nothing back from You (repeat)

I surrender it all, I lay it before You. For all of my days I’ll give you the glory. You caused me to see My heart is divided, Lord , take all of me ‘Cause I have decided

That all I’ve got All I am, All my dreams And all my plans, I’m holding back, I’m holding nothing back from You.” [Nothing Back, Campus Praise Band, Liberty University]