Sometimes the only way to rest in the peace of Jesus is to let go. The reason we struggle so much with letting go is because we are survivors. We are fighters. We will fight to hold on even if that means losing the peace Jesus gave to us. Now I am not talking about giving up. Giving up and letting go are two different things. Giving up is losing hope and walking away. Letting go is recognizing that there are some things we can do nothing about and deciding to trust Jesus and the promises he has given us. It is the recognition that we are not in charge, that our Father is and we will simply rest in him, having full confidence that his desire is not to destroy us but to complete us.
I will confess here, there are times when this is a struggle for me. I am not a controller except when it comes to relationships. Relationships is the one area where I will lose a lot of sleep over, especially changing relationships. I hate change in relationships. Whether it be a friend or a child moving away from me, it becomes a big disturber to my peace. I can handle the loss of things but I cry over changes in relationships. These become the stress points in my life. Have you identified your stress points, the things that are the hardest for you to deal with, the things that disturb your sleep?
Nothing is meant to disturb the peace that Jesus gave to us as a gift. Remind yourself:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
That is Jesus' will for us, that we would be a people of peace, his peace, which has been established in us by our relationship with Jesus; a relationship of trust. We are responsible for that peace once we have it. He told us "Do not let" and "do not be". It means we have a choice here. The peace is from him but we are responsible to keep it. It means not allowing anything to trouble our hearts and not allowing fear to take us captive.
It is amazing how much God has spoken against fear, constantly encouraging us, lifting us above this thing that can enslave us and strip us of the blessings of fellowship with the Spirit. Fear destroys trust or is a sign that trust never existed. As the children of God we are obligated by love to know, understand and live according to the promises. We must trust. We maintain such a relationship by knowing the promises and by taking everything, and I mean everything, to the Lord. We need to see him as he is, the great burden lifter:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)
It doesn't make sense that we think we can hold on to things and still call out for this peace. The peace is already ours, a gift from God. What we need to do is learn to be like Jesus. We need to take his "yoke", his character, his relationship with the Father on as our own. We need to be willing and desiring so that the Spirit can do the impossible in us. Jesus said to look to him, learn from him. He said that, "learn from me" and then we would find rest. In other words we must swim out to the middle of the river and relax, floating in the current of our Father's will, just as Jesus did. "Not my will Father but yours be done."
Often our problem is that we are not willing to consider the Father's will. We are too busy exhausting ourselves trying to swim against the current. We rush around in impossible situations trying to find our own solutions, trying to plan our own rescue. We throw off the yoke of Jesus. There is no rest for us. No trust. No peace because we want what we want and we want it now. We refuse to understand that sometimes our Father has to lead us through those valleys of shadows to bring us to the good stuff, the better stuff, the place of his will. That is the meaning of Psalm 30:5 :
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
The seed must always die before it can be transformed. The old things in us must die and fall away before our Father can bring us into what he has prepared for us. Sometimes that transition will bring us to the abyss of "giving up". In the face of this abyss the hardest thing to do is let go. Not give up, but let go, allowing the Father to complete his working, trusting him even in the darkness. This is one of my favorite verses, knowing the hardships the apostle Paul had faced:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Those who are able to remain in the rest that is ours through the peace of Jesus are those who understand and trust that God is working these things out for our good. These are the people who have said in their hearts, "No matter what, I place my trust and my confidence in Jesus Christ because nothing else matters to me". The enemy will do everything in his power to destroy that confidence and trust in Jesus but that enemy is also under our feet, having no authority or power over us. I know who I am in Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, my King, the author and perfecter of my faith.
If you have allowed things to disturb the peace you were given as a gift, if you have lost the rest you once knew, it is time to remind yourself of these facts, to let go of what you are struggling to hold on to so that God can do what he desires to do and trust him. You have to trust that he loves you above everything else and he is working out his will in your life. Listen to the Spirit. Obey him especially in the valleys of those shadows because he has promised to guide you. Let go of those things and hold on to Jesus. Remember Abraham and Isaac. Abraham trusted and obeyed. The Lord stopped the knife and provided the sacrifice. Trust our Father.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)