When my husband and I were newly married, we lived in a quaint country home in the small town of Echo, Alabama, population 1,968. Our only neighbor for half a mile was the music minister at our church and most of the views in Echo were of cotton fields, cow pastures, and large chicken houses. Country living had its perks. There were no sirens or noisy neighbors and nighttime brought out a blanket of stars. Life had a slower pace in Echo.
Having moved from a city south of Orlando, Florida, I had a lot to adjust to in my new setting. My first “country living” experience was on day one in our new home when the landlord knocked on our door and explained, “The exterminator will be by this afternoon. There’s a rattle snake in the barn out back. It killed one of the chickens this morning. I’m thinking it’s a big one.”
Imagine my horror. The “barn out back” was maybe 30 feet from our house. Could I even step outside without being eaten alive? Suddenly I felt like I was part of a sequel to Jumanji.
Our country barn, home of scary rattlesnake
It turned out that the rattle snake was six feet long (you read that right, he was taller than me). This news came from the exterminator who, by the way, didn’t catch the rattlesnake, but instead assured me, “He had plenty to eat in the barn so he’d likely just stay in there.” Plenty to eat? I tried to keep my imagination from wandering.
After that, I never stepped outside without checking twice. Although we never met, I knew he was in the barn and I stayed inside. I thought about our slinky, six-foot, uninvited guest every single day.
In a way, that silly snake had some control over me. He informed my decisions and stopped me from gardening and taking walks. If we’re honest, the same thing can be said about our hearts: we let uninvited guests come in and take over. They may not slither or hiss, but they’re just as effective at keeping us captive: fear, anxiety, shame, failure, and regret fight to take the place of peace in our hearts.
If we’re honest, the same thing can be said about our hearts: we let uninvited guests come in and take over.
Before Jesus left the earth, He gave us a promise, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27
Jesus knew we’d be prone to let uninvited guests into our hearts, so He left us with a gift far better than my exterminator— Peace. It surpasses our understanding, guards our hearts and minds, and it’s only through Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Peace: It surpasses our understanding
God’s peace is above human thinking. The peace that the world gives is based on distraction from problems; it happens when you turn a blind eye or buy into lies. But the peace Jesus gives doesn’t have to ignore the problems of life; it exists at the same time.
You can get bad news and have peace through Jesus.
You can be busy and have peace through Jesus.
You can be sick, waiting, or redirected and have peace through Jesus.
The “peace that surpasses all understanding” can’t be understood by man, but it can be experienced. True peace isn’t the absence of trouble, rather, it is the presence of God.
Peace: To guard our hearts and minds
If you have a relationship with Jesus, you can pray about every situation, pouring it out from your heart, and let peace in. When you exchange your anxious thoughts for whatever is “pure, lovely, and commendable” from Philippians 4:8, THEN the peace of God will be with you.
Junk out. Peace in.
But it gets better. God’s peace doesn’t just fill, it guards. Peace takes up a shield and stands at the door to keep fear out. It accompanies me during the day and then takes up the night watch. The Psalmist put it this way, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, LORD, make me live in safety.” Psalm 4:8
Peace takes up a shield and stands at the door to keep fear out.
This leads to a question for you. What tries to rule in your heart in place of peace?
Colossians 3:15 reads, “And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts…” Let it rule your hearts. Let it.
There is a beautiful hymn called “Wonderful Peace.” These are the lyrics to the chorus:
Coming down from the Father above
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love
I used to think that peace would just fall on me. It’s coming down, so I must be receiving it. In my mind, it was like rain. If it rains, I get wet. This isn’t the case with peace. God rains down peace, but it doesn’t cover everyone just because it’s there. We have to let it.
What is taking up residence where peace belongs? What is taking that space that the peace of Christ longs to fill?
Excuse it. Give it an eviction notice.
I asked my daughters, who are 5 and 8 years old, these questions. I think their answer was on point, “Sin, mom. Sin and fear.”
Jesus’ words are far better than mine, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33
If my heart is a garden, peace kills the weeds, fertilizes the flowers, and is a guarding gate, keeping out the unwanted pests (aka rattle snakes).
Praying the Word of God over our children is the practical step of pursuing peace. Prayer fills the gap between feeling anxious and living in peace. As mothers, we can’t usher peace into our own hearts or the hearts of our children, but the Holy Spirit can. We allow Him access through prayer. I experienced this through joining a Moms in Prayer group that equipped me to pray for my children with bold, scripture-based confidence. To other moms, I say that Moms in Prayer is the most important investment I’ve made as a parent.
Praying the Word of God over our children is the practical step of pursuing peace. Prayer fills the gap between feeling anxious and living in peace.
In our home, my five year old was recently battling fear at bedtime. Shadows looked more like bad guys and the closet door was the entrance to a neighborhood of not-so-friendly monsters. In my grown up way, I tried to coach her out of it, checking the closet together and trying out the homemade monster spray. But it wasn’t enough.
Bedtime soon turned into a sob-fest of very real fear. We began praying over this need in my Moms in Prayer group and added this prayer to our bedtime routine: “Lord, may Annalise both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, LORD, make her live in safety.” Within a few days, she caught on and would stare the bed down before climbing in for the night. “I can sleep in peace because God makes me safe.” Yes! A thousand times, yes!
Now, may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard YOUR heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Scripture verses CSB version
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Kristen Czuchra lives in Spring City, Pennsylvania with her husband of eleven years and two daughters, Adeline (8) and Annalise (5). She grew up in church, but God became real and personal to Kristen when her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away when she was nine. That lead to years of turmoil for her family and God became her constant in a changing world. Currently, Kristen and her husband serve as pastors of Grace Assembly of God church. Kristen has her Master’s in Education from the University of Alabama Birmingham.