This past weekend I had the privilege of going to the spa with my mom. See, I recently turned 18 years old. Our way of celebrating was to take a little mother daughter get away trip to this really cute resort not too far from home. As I sat kicked back in a large tub full of steaming water while overlooking a picturesque lake through large glass windows, I began to contemplate the world’s perception of “peace”. I was surrounded by everything made to “relax” me. The steam reached up and played with my hair as the water warmed my skin. I had a fall colored view worthy of a postcard. Tea, water (apple cinnamon, lemon OR cucumber- who knew water could be turned into such a complicated choice?), coffee, and snacks were all at my disposal- as was a room full of comfy furniture. Soothing music rested softly on my ears. Everything was designed to give all us paying customers unmistakable “peace”.
However, was this truly peace? Because I am the unsettled thinker that I am, I couldn’t let myself fully give into this “simulated peace”. For some reason, I could not get out of my head the fact that within a few hours, all of it would be over. This wonderful state of bliss was only temporary. Later on, my massage was wonderful (and extremely painful at times because I forgot how dancers have way too many knots in their backs and shoulders the size of Texas). However, it too came to an end. I knew that going into the room. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved feeling relaxed and being treated so well. It was a blessing I am very fortunate to have experienced. Yet, that’s the thing about world created peace- it is something that can be experienced…as in experienced in good single bursts at a time. It isn’t something that can be experienced at ALL times. It only lasts for a certain amount of limited time. Someone or something will always interrupt it. It is not eternal and there is no earthly way to keep it constant.
So think of peace on earth like a really delicious piece of cake.
Because it was my birthday this past week, I can imagine this really well. So many ingredients go into it to make it taste the wonderful way that it does. This is just like how all of the key components at the spa were well thought out and purposeful in order to make the experience as relaxing as possible. In terms of the cake though, a perfect amount of sugar, flour, and absolute yumminess is put into it. What the consumer gets is the perfect slice of what seems like Heavenly bliss. However, the problem with this is that after you dive into the cake with your fork, it isn’t long until that piece in all of its delectable glory is gone. You are left with an empty plate. That is probably one of the worst feelings…when your plate is wiped clean and the sweet goodness you had so coveted before has disappeared. So what do you do? Wish for MORE.
This is why worldly peace in this life is effectively a PEACE of cake. Wonderful at the time. But always ending. And never fully satisfying.
This is the equivalent of what simulated peace in this world looks like. It is never quite enough and has to be constantly forced upon ourselves on an interval by interval basis. Simulated peace in this world can often be achieved through buying and wearing cool clothes, making a good grade, attracting the opposite sex, or simply relaxing and doing nothing by escaping reality through social media or Netflix. These are not bad things by any means. They make us happy and can give us a little sense of “peace” at the times when we want it. But the real problem comes when one tries to make these things his or her ONLY sense of peace. Why? Because it isn’t real. It is simulated. And it usually COSTS something. You pay for the spa. You pay for tutors to get the grade. You pay for nice clothes. You pay for a membership. All in all, peace created by human minds usually comes at a price. But here’s the truth:
The peace that the world tries to sell to you is only a second rate version of the peace that God gives to us FREELY.
God’s peace is real, raw and authentic. It is not dependent upon circumstance or situation. You don’t have to be sitting in a hot tub to find it. You can be living in filth and barely getting by (according to the world’s standards) and still find God’s peace. This is because the world’s perception of peace is different from God’s. It comes from trust in a favorable condition or a desired stability. But God’s peace comes from trust in a Father’s unconditional love and a stability of the heart. The heart is STABLE because God’s love is ABLE. Not because someone complimented you and it felt good for a few minutes. Not because a guy or girl told you they loved you. These great things provide temporary peace. But when we trust God, our peace can be found in these happy times AND the times when that same someone says they think you are annoying behind your back…AND when that same guy or girl decides to change their mind and choose someone else.
See, God never said that this world would be easy. He never said that following Jesus would make our hardships and struggles go away. However, He did say that He would give us an unexplainable peace amidst the hard times regardless:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
That’s real peace- knowing that Jesus already knows that you are going to struggle and fail…but still love you anyway. And not only will He love us through it, but bring us OUT of it. That takes time and trust. But a trust in the world’s bursts of “peaceful” goodness brings inconsistent peace that ultimately fades into dissatisfaction with one’s self based on the world’s impossible standards of peace….standards that are defined by outwardly perceived life perfection. A trust in the eternal brings peace that LASTS. Peace that is true. Peace that infiltrates every aspect of your being. It comes from realizing that you are loved….and that He has a greater plan for us that we don’t understand yet.
So all in all…
Life is not supposed to be a PEACE of cake. It’s supposed to be about finding the PEACE of God. And it’s free.
(of both cost AND calories!)