The largest battle ground in life is that of peace. Whoever can win and hold on to peace will find themselves able to overcome the harsh conditions of the wilderness. The battle, however, is never easy and many capitulate to the enemy’s weapons of doubt, fear, and worry. These elements poison us into paralysis; forcing us to abandon faith and lose peace. But Jesus calls us to face those fears and trust Him. He will often give hard lessons so we may learn how to stay peaceful in the storm.
Jesus Faces Two Storms
In Luke 8:23-25 we read, “But as they were sailing, He fell off to sleep. And a whirlwind revolving from below upwards swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in great danger. And the disciples came and woke Him, saying, Master, Master, we are perishing! And He, being thoroughly awakened, censured and blamed and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there came a calm. And He said to them, [Why are you so fearful?] Where is your faith (your trust, your confidence in Me—in My veracity and My integrity)? And they were seized with alarm and profound and reverent dread, and they marveled, saying to one another, Who then is this, that He commands even wind and sea, and they obey Him?”
In this story, we read that Jesus faced two storms. One storm was the wind outside; the other was from the ‘self’ nature inside of His disciples. Jesus’ mastery over both is our lesson; maintaining personal peace no matter what storms are raging. Like Jesus, we too need to learn how to stay in peaceful trust in the middle of the storm and master our emotions. This is difficult to learn, and we failed many times before we began to see the fruit of victory.
A Miracle in the Storm
One night in October 2011 found our family sleeping under two tarps in the woods when a fierce nor’easter arose. The howling, gale force winds caused us to lay awake under our shuddering and blustering tarps; wondering if the four nails holding our pathetic covering would fail. The failure of our tent would have exposed us to the merciless icy wind and rain; a dangerous position since we had no other clothes.
For many hours, the wind shook the trees, and the tarps convulsed while we prayed for a miracle.
We did not know what would happen and were quite fearful for our safety. Even though the wind howled continually, and despite the likelihood of imminent failure, our tarps held firm. Our angels were on duty; securing the nails and keeping us safe. We have no other plausible explanation for what happened. The miracle of deliverance was that we survived. Through this event God was teaching our family to overcome our fear and stay in peaceful trust during the storm.
The Storm of ‘Self’
Maintaining peacefulness during storms or other traumatic natural events differs from maintaining peace when a ‘self’ storm arises. When Jesus was in the boat, He faced both storms. When ‘self’ rose from deep within the disciples, and burst forth in their volatile words and actions, Jesus had to answer. His choice was not to react; instead He responded from a place of abiding peace and faith.
Few today have learned such peaceful trust in the Father. The ‘self’ storms that come raging at us from within or without, have a remarkable ability to destroy our peace. Not much different from a sudden thunderstorm on a clear day or a nor’easter in winter. A ‘self’ storm can arise from nowhere and wreak havoc on people in its path.
Being rooted in Jesus, with peaceful emotions, is the only way to stay calm amid these sudden ‘self’ storms and remain in trusting faith.
This lesson is difficult to learn, and hard won, because everyone has the ‘self’ nature. Many believers do not understand how to be rooted in God’s love and are vulnerable to these sudden ‘self’ storms. When someone lets their ‘self’ fly, we often react with more ‘self’; a tornado that sucks up debris from the ground and then shoots them out like missiles. This vortex of ‘self’ and hell combine to destroy everything and everyone around it. Responding to ‘self’ with ‘self’, will only escalate conflict; making the storm worse and driving peace far away. In reality, our own reaction to ‘self’ causes more harm than the storm itself.
Internal Peace and External Peace
There are two aspects to abiding peace that we need to comprehend. The first aspect of peace is internal. Internal peace is a fruit from the Holy Spirit and a choice to focus only on Jesus. The second aspect of peace is external. External peace is a conscious, deliberate act of the will to not react to ‘self’. Instead, internal peace flows to our outward actions.
When we can keep internal and external peace during the storm, we will be safe from the enemy.
This is the proactive response of Jesus in the boat. The proactive response takes time and effort to develop and is a mile marker of spiritual maturity. We have to practice this external peace daily. God will test us to see if we have learned our lessons. The hated, maligning, misunderstandings and even slander that satan throws out gives us an opportunity to exercise our will to abide in peace. God allows this for our benefit and growth.
Abiding in Peace
If we react with ‘self‘ we step out from under the umbrella of God’s protective covering. By reacting, we give satan power. Satan lures us to fight him on his own turf, and we always lose that battle. But when we abide in peace and do not react with our ‘self’ nature, we stay on God’s turf; making satan react.
The enemy wants us to react to him not the other way around.
If we stay in peace satan reacts, and when he reacts, he makes many mistakes. Our enemy has a longstanding pattern of overplaying his hand when he reacts to our faith. When we abide in peace, we are trusting in God to direct our choices and actions. Our ‘self’ nature is not in the driver’s seat; instead we let God lead us.
We have failed the lesson of abiding in peace many times. As we have grown however, our ‘self’ reactions are diminishing as we invite Jesus into each situation. The responsibility for maintaining peace has become greater. Our obedience to His lead now occurs much sooner. Spiritual maturity requires us to respond to others from a place of rooted faith, hope and love; abiding peace.
Peace is a major battle strategy to defeat the enemy of our souls, the ‘self’ nature. Through the testing of our faith, we learned that surrendering our ‘self’ nature to Jesus allowed Him to fill us with His peace. Jesus trains us however, not to react from our ‘self’ nature when ‘self’ storms come. Reactions from ‘self’ never lead to internal peace and are dangerous; opening our soul to attacks by the enemy.
Our choice to respond from internal peace establishes peace around us. The peace that comes from Jesus preserves our soul. This is the abiding peace He won for us through His suffering and death. Jesus never reacted negatively only responding in peace with the Father’s love. His actions flowed from abiding internal peace; even during those storms of ‘self’, which led to His crucifixion. As genuine believers, we need to abide in His peace. We honor Jesus and what He won for us when we do so.
Homer and Wanda