Last week we talked about peace. Specifically about peace that is mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit. I ended my talk by saying that you already have peace. As believers in Jesus Christ, having put your faith and trust in Him, and believing that He has already paid the price for your sins (past, present, and future) you have been promised the ultimate gift of the Holy Spirit. And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes into your life, He brings gifts. One of them being peace.
Peace cannot come from you. It does not come from within. It does not come from yoga. It does not come from emptying your mind. It only comes from God.
“But, pastor Jesse,” you might object, “I feel peaceful when I am doing yoga, when I empty mind mind of all the troubles and stresses, and chaos, and responsibilities, and temptations, and guilt, and shame. I feel peace when I plug into my video games or music or tv of choice. I feel peace when I can just pretend I am somewhere else.”
Ah yes. Somewhere else.
This is escape.
The normal day in and day out comes with a ridiculous amount of stressors. Add sin to it and it almost becomes unbearable. We all have our vices. Some turn to work, some to studying, some to drugs and alcohol, some to sexual immorality, some to fantasy (tv, movies, games), but all of these are simply escapes. They are temporary bandages that do nothing for the issue underneath.
I am not saying that everyone who does the above mentioned (aside from drugs, sexual immorality, and an abuse of alcohol), but if these things are sought out to replace the feelings or emotions you’re not sure how to combat, it is escape. I call it temporary because when you’re finished with said vice, the thing you were hoping to not deal with has been patiently waiting for your return.
Escape is not the answer. Escape does about as much good as using a poster to hide a huge hole in the wall (shout out to Shawshank Redemption). Sure the poster covers the hole, but the hole is still there.
King David, the man after God’s own heart writes,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)
There is no escaping the Lord. This isn’t a threat. He loves you. He choses to be where you are, even if you’re running from Him. Think about Adam and Eve in the garden after the whole fruit debacle. God came to them. Because He loved them. He cares for them. He cares for you too.
You escape because something is wrong. You can feel it. You might know what it is and you might not. Take comfort in this, if you can, God knows. He’s not freaked out about it. If He was one to freak out easy, the cross would have never happened. God is in this for the long haul. Because He cares about you.
If you stay hidden, God will still love you. If you continue to escape, His mercies will start anew with each morning. But God has something better in mind for you. It’s that thing you’ve been looking for; Freedom. Peace.
From prison…yes, prison, the Apostle Paul is able to give some incredible advice when it comes to finding peace amidst the parts of life we’d rather just skip over. To the church in Philippi, he says this,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 2:4-9 [emphasis added]
2. Don’t hide the hole you’re trying to cover. Later in the Psalm mentioned above, David talks about the darkness being as light to God. He is able to see the in the dark places just the same as the light. If you are in sin, stop hiding. Confess. Repent. Walk in the light.
3. If it is shame that has you running, whether things done by you or to you, may I encourage you to talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be me, but it should be someone who I, or the rest of the pastors, would consider to be Biblically wise. Keeping these things inside will rob you of joy, peace, and freedom. Come, walk in the light.
Peace is already yours. You don’t have to escape to find it. You don’t have to go chasing after it. Simply trust in the promises God has already given you.
I love you. If you ever need to talk, I am here.