Faith creates personal peace

God’s name is a place of protection—

Good people can run there and be safe.

—Proverbs 18:10, The Message Bible

When I was a young teenager and began to ponder life’s great questions—when I wasn’t doing homework, teaching piano to neighbor kids, and organizing high school dances—I joined a youth group at a local church. My parents did not force me to go. My friends regularly hung out there and what they did sounded so cool I didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

There I met Darrel Johnson, a brilliant thinker and youth leader who introduced two great truths to the others and me. The first: There is so much to learn about the character of God you will spend a lifetime searching to know more. And the second truth: God will reveal Himself, not only through the life of Christ, historical events, and contemporaries, but also through the Bible. It was that second truth—the liveliness of the Bible—that sounded unbelievable to me at first. After all, a first glance through the text looked to me like a boring and tedious set of histories and rules.

Darrel promised us something different, however, when he asked us kids to regularly crack open our Bibles. The stories would become so personal and God would so actively reveal Himself that I would come to see scripture as a living document. Through ancient words God would give me strength, challenge my current stream of thoughts, and supply hope when my heart felt mortally wounded. In fact, ancient words would begin the process of binding my heart with God’s. We would more readily connect through prayer and a surprisingly personal relationship would develop.

One evening this week, while I read Scripture before turning in for the night, God reminded me that He is a place of protection. Not only that, but if I wish to be counted among the righteous, and seen as a person comfortably embracing faith and devotion, I will do the unthinkable at times: I will not run away from God but toward His protection with confidence—knowing that He is strong and mighty and capable of withstanding any onslaught, any attack.

Take the people in West Virginia late Tuesday night, who in those early moments of utter despair and disbelief after learning that their loved ones were in fact dead and had not survived the mine explosion, told media people that God had abandoned them. He had given, and then taken away with no warning. The mining company had failed to protect them. The government had failed. Worst of all, God had failed.

How many times have I skimmed over that short passage and missed the fact that merely uttering the name of God will provide my heart and soul with some protection and safety? That it is possible to experience tangible peace in the midst of trauma and fear and anger?

I believe this short passage is meant to shock and soothe us, for some of those things upon which we build our sense of security and protection may need to be re-evaluated. When we want to flee, we might need to run back, instead. When we want to question God’s compassion, His power, and His interest in our welfare, we must run to Him and hash it out, if need be. Prayerfully asking the questions. Facing especially those great dilemmas that seem to play out without justice, fairness, or good will.

God has certainly captured my attention. What I am seeing Him do is remind us that each time we worry about parenting choices, personal safety, finances, health, children, friends and family—we are to gaze into His face so He will be recognized when the darkness of utter despair threatens to envelope us.

A look into the Old Testament of the Bible reveals a number of slightly differing names for God, each hyphenated to specifically reveal a different aspect of His character. I am particularly fond of Jehovah-shalom: God is peace. When I think about God as a conduit of peace (especially that He can create personal peace inside people during a volatile situation) He reminds me that His love for peace should encourage me to practice being a peacemaker in my home and workplace. Jehovah-shalom also reminds me that choosing to move into His presence while going about the daily routines in my life has the potential to offer me with an experience of blessed peace because I have invited Him to be there.

Turn around. Ask. The peace is ours for the taking.

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