My peace is gone. My stomach unsettled. There’s an edge I seem to be sitting on. The worry is back again, the one that comes with guilt. I start asking the same questions again: “How do I make it right? How do I repair the harm I caused, the wrong I have wrought, the sin I’ve just done?”
If you can imagine a situation that leaves you feeling like this, it might be because you, too, have felt this way before. Let’s call it “The Aftermath.”
I am familiar with Aftermaths. I have spent much of my life trying to sanctify myself out of them, trying to find peace by doing good deeds to make up for the wrong.
Just FYI — It’s impossible! It doesn’t work.
Recompense doesn’t last. It’s like pouring a cup of water in a dry riverbed, quickly absorbed but does nothing to make the waters flow again. The trickle is not enough and leaves me wondering if I am enough.
Maybe this is just me? Maybe.
But, before you give me up as a drama queen, try on these scenarios. See if you have ever attempted some form of this impossible act:
Feel guilty for harsh words and turn the sweetness up high the next day.
At work too much this week and bring home a new toy for the kids.
Over eat one day and eat next-to-nothing the next day.
Upset with a failure and go shopping to feel better! (maybe that one‘s just retail therapy?)
Look down at your own hands for a minute. They are good strong hands, right? Think about all the things you have done with them in your lifetime. Everyday things. Superhuman things. Some done with mercy and compassion. Some done with selfish intentions. Some lead to joy and some even to sin, like those before an Aftermath.
As much as your hands have done, are they really powerful enough to bring peace — real peace?
Though it is only human to try, self-made redemption is deficient because it relies only on a weak and broken source — the person in need of redemption!
Friends of mine involved in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous tell me they owe their recovery to trusting their Higher Power to return them to sanity. They understand they are in need of someone greater than themselves to heal and restore them to peace. The source of their redemption must be greater than the source of their trouble.
This may be a hard-to-swallow truth. In the day of the self-made man/woman and pulling ourselves up by bootstraps, the world likes to argue that if we work harder or try to do better, we can bring redemption for ourselves. And while I believe our human hands are capable of great good, it's God’s goodness that works through our hearts and hands and makes change happen. The power of good is God’s, not ours.
Likewise, the power to redeem and give lasting peace is God’s, not ours. For real, lasting peace and freedom, we go to Jesus. He came to earth so we could do just that!
“I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
Isaiah 44:22 (NLT)
A few years ago, I arrived at a women’s retreat struggling under the latest Aftermath. I’d been trying to right myself for weeks, promising to do this and vowing to do that. I shamed myself for the failure and couldn’t find the forgiveness I was needing, especially from myself.
During the last worship time, I was brought to my knees, finally accepting that I couldn’t heal this brokenness myself. I came to the only one who could give me the gift of peace. Jesus came, took the weight off of me and freed me! You should have seen me the next day; joyful, peaceful and grateful! Whenever I turn to Jesus, He does as he has always promised to do — Save.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
John 14:27 (NLT)
Friends, have you found lasting peace in the pulling of bootstraps? In being self-made? Maybe now is the time to open your hands and accept this gift! Jesus really is the “Prince of Peace” — that’s my favorite Bible nickname for Jesus!
I leave you with some “nicknames” God calls us by in the Bible. I’m inviting you to dig into these verses and write them down! Pop ‘em up on your bathroom mirror, fridge or car dash. Say them aloud until they become part of who you are!
Gods calls you…
BOLD AND CONFIDENT
2 Corinthians 3:17
May you draw closer to the One that calls you to real peace.