HOW TO TAP GOD’S PEACE
How do you approach God? Jesus said about Himself:
I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6).
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20).
There was a man named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. You can read an account of him in John 3.
This man came to Jesus one night and said to Him:
“Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . .” (John 3:2-3).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We stumble over the simplicity of this simple step. You are born again—or saved—when you believe Jesus. He said that you have access to the peace of God through Him.
The starting point is when you ask Him to invade your life…when you open the door and invite Him in.
He said: “l will come in.” You either can or can’t point to a moment in your life when you made that decision.
Yesterday, I proposed this step to a disturbed client. He became more disturbed.
“Don’t hand me that stuff,” he said. “I’ve asked God for help many times, and it doesn’t work.”
“When did you ask Him to come into your life?” I asked.
“I’ve been a Christian all my life,” he said. “I grew up in church.”
I persisted. “When did you ask Him to come into your life?”
“I can’t remember,” he said.
To make this step more clear to Him, I asked if he remembered when he purchased his last car. That he could remember. He also admitted, when I asked, that he purchased the car by a specific action. He didn’t purchase it by simply thinking about it…or about its construction…or by considering all the standard equipment, etc. Only when he agreed to the deal did he purchase the car. He definitely remembered that.
He also remembered exactly when he got married, when he accepted airplane tickets for his last flight, when he accepted his present job.
You are born again when you ask Jesus to invade your life. Otherwise, it’s no deal. Jesus is the way to God’s peace.
To let Him into your life gives you access to the resources of God: peace, joy, hope, and patience.
Then you can put everything and everyone into His hands. You need not be in a dither over anything. You can stop striving and let His peace guard your heart, mind, and body.
It does not follow that because you have access to strength from God that you will give Him your troubles, injustices, hates, hostility, conflicts, or ill will. You can, but you can also nurse them within your body.
Let me share with you a struggle that I went through even though Jesus was in my life.
MY BOSS…THE SELF-MADE MAN
An unavoidable confrontation with my own reactions occurred during World War II. I was an engineer in a department responsible for designing some of the tools necessary for the production of vital airplane engines. We were under great pressure to get our work done. There was a good deal of bickering and jealousy between us.
My boss was a mean, tobacco-chewing, self-made man who had worked himself up from the production line to chief engineer.
There was a large window in the wall of his office facing our department, so we could see each other. Inside his office was an odd arrangement. Beside his desk was a piece of rubber matting three feet in diameter.
In the center of the mat sat a highly polished brass spittoon.
Frequently, we engineers would spot the boss loading his jaw with tobacco. When he finished, his jaw looked like he had an apple in his cheek. When he started to chew, we all braced ourselves because we knew someone was in trouble.
Then, he would spit in the general direction of the spittoon (he seldom hit it) and shout someone’s name with all the ferocity of an Indian war cry:
I instantly became furious. One word from him and I was fighting mad. I hated him, and his messy, ugly spittoon.
Of course, you don’t tell the boss off. I developed the art of entering his office with a friendly smile on my face and talking to him in a cordial manner, all the time hatefully seething within and contemplating his chin.
AN ACT YOU CAN’T PLAY FOREVER
No man can keep up an act like that twenty-four hours every day, so I would take out my frustration on my wife and child at home.
“Turn down that radio!” I screamed at my wife.
“Get out of my way.” Or: “Pick up that toy, now,” I’d yell at our three-year-old. If he didn’t jump when I thought he should, I’d swat him all out of proportion to what he’d done.
I’d always be ashamed of myself and determine over and over again not to talk and act (really…it was reacting) like that. But it kept happening.
There were some very tense evenings created by my spirit and my tongue. I dreaded going home because of the scene I might create there.
My conduct around my boss and family is clearly described in the Bible:
His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet there were drawn swords (Psalm 55:21).
Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief (Proverbs 14:13).
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated (Proverbs 14:17).
At the time, I had no knowledge of the Bible, so these verses were unknown to me.
With my stomach in knots and under constant tension, I had to do something. My choice was to seek a solution out of the Bible. My search led me to some disturbing verses. For example:
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger, and clamor, and slander be put away from you along with all malice (Ephesians 4:31).
What’s wrong with being angry and bitter and malicious toward my boss? I argued with myself.
And, how can I turn off my anger at sundown? Besides, if he didn’t yell, and if my wife were more understanding, and if our child would behave, I wouldn’t be angry in be first place.
These verses struck me as unrealistic, unreasonable, and the source of more tension. But another verse was even more disturbing:
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
I had no intention of responding that way toward my boss, or toward my wife when she was indifferent to my problems. After all, I felt I was entitled to nurse my grudges.
But my misery continued. I finally concluded that when my body was filled with tensions and hostility and my mind was loaded with ugly thoughts, my inner condition surely wasn’t affecting my boss, my wife, or my child. They didn’t live underneath my skin.
The Bible was right. To be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving made sense. I would crank up my will power and determination and push the hate, anger, bitterness, and self-pity out of my body. What a relief that would be.
GOOD INTENTIONS GONE BAD
A few days later, however, came a bitter disappointment. The boss had finished loading his jaw with tobacco and was getting ready to spit.
Somehow, I just knew my name would follow the spit and found myself tensing up. When he yelled “Brrraaannnddt,” I was as furious as ever. This was disappointing and frustrating to me. I was trying to live up to what the Bible said and couldn’t do it. And I was still a growling tyrant around the house.
I went through a period of time being bitter toward God and sputtering about the Bible. Here was a book that described a way of behaving that couldn’t be lived up to.
But I continued my search, and one day came upon some verses that gave me the answer and changed my whole inner life:
And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).
That verse stopped me. It just wasn’t true. I was not inadequate. I had gotten an education without God’s help. I got a job, some promotions, made some good investments, engaged in sports, lived up to the etiquette book, and controlled myself without God’s help.
I mention this because I see many people who isolate Bible verses and reject them or are guided by them without considering the verses that precede or follow the one in question. Instead of reading on, they react negatively as I did.
After a few days of rejecting that verse, I read the next one, which contains a life-changing key:
Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Consider that thought. Anyone can obey the letter of the law. It’s a man’s spirit that he can’t control. I could do whatever my boss asked, while at the same time rebel inwardly.
It was the rebellion I couldn’t eliminate. I could speak with him in a cordial manner. It was my hostility, anger, and hatred that I couldn’t eliminate. I could even control my temper at home if I tried hard enough. It was the temper itself I couldn’t eliminate. Even my three-year-old child could make me angry. I could refrain from whomping him, but I couldn’t eliminate the anger.
Living up to the letter of what was required of me was killing me. That’s where the inadequacy was. That truth was like a shaft of light.
I asked God to help me love my boss, my wife, and child—to keep my body quiet when things didn’t go right. A few days later my boss was again loading his jaw with tobacco. He aimed some at the spittoon and let out his war whoop:
I heard it, but I was quiet. This was unbelievable.
I wasn’t angry.
My inner life matched my manner for the first time. What a relief! His antics began to amuse me. I had a new spirit whenever I would let God give me quietness—at work, at home, anywhere. This simple relationship with God changed my life and even my profession. God would quiet my spirit whenever I let Him. Gradually, I have learned to lean on God’s peace more and more.
I’ve spent the last thirty-five years helping thousands of people find peace in the inner man by tapping into the Spirit of God who gives us quietness that can’t be interrupted by people or circumstances.