A few days back I said it was time to return from exile and I was going to show you the way out. I’ve started us down that road, but maybe you don’t like the path so far! Naming your losses, facing your nakedness, being silent and listening: not exactly a fun or fast track out, is it? Well, you’ve probably noticed that nothing much happens fun or fast in exile. Leaving it takes time too.
Today I want to look at how to find peace in the pain of exile. With all of the honesty, stripping, and nakedness going on, it is a pretty raw existence. Life is more like chaos where nothing is settled and it FEELS like it never will be.
Peace doesn’t come from taking control or having someone (even God) fix what’s broken. Peace comes by being fixed on God.
Jesus said he came to give us peace, but not a peace like the world gives it. His peace keeps us from feeling troubled and anxious (John 14:27). God spoke a similar word through Isaiah – that if we aligned ourselves with God we will have peace like a river (48:18). Combining the two thoughts…the peace of the world is temporary. The peace of God keeps flowing and never stops.
Peace typically leaves us when three things happen: something changes, conflict arises, and/or we lose control. This is when most of us kick into control mode:
- Plan A: we work to take back control by what ever means necessary.
- Plan B: if we can’t take control, we ask or pay someone else to do it for us.
- Plan C: if Plans A & B fail, we often go into denial by ignoring, minimizing, or escaping our pain.
- Plan D: we ask God to fix it.
- If all plans fail, we fall into despair.
Sound familiar? In one sense, there’s nothing wrong with this process. It’s natural. But at some point it’s important to realize that you are chasing the wrong end. The reason God often doesn’t answer these prayers (Fix it! Get me out of this jam!) is that he is looking for something deeper from us.
Peace doesn’t come by getting God to bring all of your chaos under your control.
Peace comes when you bring all of your chaos and place it under God’s control.
If you leave exile without learning this lesson, you left too soon and your exile experience was a waste. Isaiah has more to tell us about peace:
You, Lord, give true peace (wholeness) to those who depend on you, because they trust you. So, trust the Lord always, because he is our Rock forever. Isaiah 26:3,4
Notice the source of peace. Peace doesn’t come from taking control or having someone (even God) fix what’s broken. Peace comes by being fixed on God.
My point in all of this is to point out that returning from exile should never be your goal so “I can get my life back” or “I can be happy again.” Exile IS your life for a season and you need to find a way to experience peace and joy there, not hold your breath and run through this season hoping to exhale on the other side.
No matter what you might be suffering today, God has a peace that will “guard your heart and mind” (as Paul promised the Philippian church – 4:7).
What is your process to take back control in your life? Can you relate to the plans I laid out above? Have you been asking God to bring control to your life rather than bringing your life under his control? Let me hear about your quest for peace by leaving a comment below. Thanks.