I have been reading through the Amplified Bible as my current translation of choice and yesterday I came across a particular phrase that struck me hard enough to leave a mark.
“…may there be peace – every kind of peace (blessing), especially peace with God, and freedom from fears, agitating passions and moral conflicts.” I Peter 5:14 amplified
Argh. These are the exact three areas which I find myself struggling with over and over again, and I need to remind myself that wrestling with these things is not merely a tiring, futile ordeal, but it is indeed meant to develop strength and skill and maturity in my spirit.
Freedom from fears: Yeah, I admit to a life-long struggle with fear. I am afraid of the dark, death, demons, people not liking me when they get to know me, hurting someone, never amounting to anything special, getting old and useless, trying really hard and failing, snakes, deep water, losing people I love, being ignored, making a wrong decision that messes things up real bad, not making any decisions because they might be wrong ones that mess things up real bad, being misunderstood, being alone, being with people, being responsible for someone, being crippled or maimed, not being loved, not loving enough, drowning, being poor, never changing anything. As I have let God come close and hang around my heart, these fears have loosened their grip a great deal, but they still like to hang around outside my door. Love, come and swallow these fears. Peace, keep them away.
Freedom from agitating passions: Man! This one is so annoying. I love passion, I love emotion, I love appetites and hungers and longings and dreams and visions and desires, but these craving creatures can bolt and get away from me if I don’t train them and remind them that I am the one holding the leash. Purity, self-control, patience, selflessness, humility, contentment, generosity. Let these rule my desires.
Freedom from moral conflicts: I had a dream this morning about walking on a tall, shaky scaffolding. At first I clutched tightly to the side rail and rigidly wrapped my arms around it, feeling very safe, but being jolted and tossed by every movement of the structure and unable to progress very far at all. Then I had the outrageous thought that perhaps I should let go of the railing and use the stability of my own two feet to keep me upright. I thrust myself into the middle of the platform, away from the heaving rail, and spread my feet apart. The floor beneath me swayed and bucked, but as I let my knees absorb the motion and my arms balance my weight shifts, I found myself able to move quickly across the surface with a sense of solidity that surprised me.
I have been clinging to the rail of methodology and legalism (with a bit of superstition and fatalism thrown in just to make it interesting) for much of my life. This has kept me feeling relatively safe, but tied to one spot, and the ride can be pretty bumpy at times because it is just so inflexible. At some point, I have to let go of the support structure and step out on my own two feet. What do I base my faith on? What do I really believe is true? How do I know something is true? What are the things that are unchangeable in my life and what things are flexible? Whom do I trust? What is the foundation I base all other things on? How do I know something is right or wrong? These questions can cause a lot of internal conflict, believe me, but they are worth asking. Being safe is not the ultimate goal. I want to walk forward having my feet firmly planted on love and truth, and both of these qualities, while being absolute, are extremely difficult to grasp because of their living, breathing, growing, larger-than-life, yet intimately personal natures. There will always be moral dilemmas and conflicts thrown across my path and I want the internal courage and wisdom to know how to respond with clarity, integrity, and joy. There are no rules I can follow to get that right. I just have to learn it by watching the Master and doing what he does.
May there be peace (and all that it entails) in your life today.