Sunday, July 29, 2007

Seek Peace and Pursue It

In my repeated reading of 1 Peter this past month, it seems the Lord has been bringing this verse to mind:

For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:10-12 (quoting from Psalm 34)

The words that keep ringing in my mind are "Seek peace and pursue it." Over and over. "Seek peace and pursue it." And you know what? I think that's what I've been doing.

First, you've got to seek peace. Look for it. Prayerfully ask God where it will be found. In setting a certain relationship in order? In becoming obedient in a certain area? In giving Him an area of fear? In my case, I decided that one of the places peace could be found for me was in an orderly home, which I admittedly hadn't had in quite some time. I used to be a nut about keeping my house perfect. When the kids were very small, I was so into my house that it became an area of bondage for me. Over the years, with God's help, I began to relax my standards. Then, my flesh took over and in recent years, my increasingly relaxed standards coincided with our increasingly busy schedule, and chaos began to take root. In my junk drawers. In my master closet. In the garage. Ack! I was in bondage to the house again, but not because it was too neat, but because it was too messy! Oh, it looked fine if you came over, but I knew that lurking behind cabinet and closet doors, and on the other side of the garage, there It was. Disorder. And the mess wasn't just contained in closets and drawers, but it began to invade my thinking as well. My mind became just as cluttered. And, I have to admit that I felt no energy or enthusiasm to do anything about it! I would clean a cabinet and wait for the "cleaning fever" to hit like it used to, and it didn't. I would take a vitamin. Drink some coffee. Pray. (Not necessarily in that order!) And still, the cleaning bug didn't bite. I wanted it clean, but didn't want to put everything aside in order to do it. The kids wanted to go to the pool, we were invited to go out of town, there was a conference, we had mission trips... there was always something!

Well, in recent weeks, I decided to do the second half of that sentence: "Pursue it." I knew peace could be found in order, but I had to pursue it. I began to see that cleaning a kitchen cabinet here, a pantry there, a laundry room shelf here and a bookshelf there were starting to help clear my mind and energize me. As I posted last week, I tackled my son's room, and as I mentioned in my post, my master closet was next. Boy, was it ever! I emptied that thing all over my room, up and down our hallway, and into our dining room. Stuff. Everywhere.

I became the "clothes bouncer," deciding which clothes could come back in. "You, but not you... you but not you." I interviewed my clothes, asking pointed questions like:

"Who was president when you were purchased?"

"When was the last time you were worn outside of this closet?"

"Does the number on your tag accurately represent my current size?"

"Does wearing you look like a cry for help?"

You know. Those tough questions that some of the clothes in our closets don't want to answer!

Sadly, not everyone qualified to come back in. Not all of our "stuff" was qualified to come back in, either. Some memorabilia, I found, wasn't worth taking a walk down memory lane with anymore. There were some things I thought I would want around, that suddenly I didn't want as much as I wanted peace. So, out they went. For two days I worked. Now, it's beautiful. It's organized. It smells like Cucumber Melon air freshener. Aaaahhh.

Yesterday we tackled the garage. My school shelves are where I can get to them, you can walk through it without wearing protective clothing. It's a work in progress, but it's measurable progress!

And do you know what I found this week? Peace!! Apparently it was stuffed in my master closet, garage, and under my son's trundle bed all along! Flattened under piles of stuff and weighed down by clutter, fragments of peace were cloistered away, just waiting to be found. I've got a pile of junk ready to go out with the trash in the morning, and a mountain of wonderful treasures ready to be picked up for donation on Tuesday. And I'm walking around clutching my prized posession, my greatest find in all of that mess... my peace!

I know that the ultimate goal should not be neatness for neatness' sake, but godliness and holiness. But I found that, for me, the disorder in my home did not reflect God's character, for He is a God of order, not chaos. I've still got some other areas where God has shown me I'm to pursue peace... a couple of relationships and some habits I need to work on, but the peace I've found in recent days by restoring order in my home will certainly accompany me into those areas as well. Sort of like a "peace snowball" I guess. It's getting bigger!

Where is your peace? I would encourage you to, with God's help, decide where it will be found, to seek it. Then, with His energy... pursue it! It's worth it!


16 comments:

Linda said...

What a wonderful, insightful post Cyndi. I know that I find it difficult to be peaceful when there is a lot of disorder around me. I am a terrible procrastinator, but when I let things go too long I begin to have dreams about trying to get something done and never being able to reach the goal. I wake up exhausted. Then I know I must get the "to do things" taken care of.
I didn't really associate that with the peace God speaks about, but you are right. It all works together.
For me - the peace that I have had to pursue lately is the peace of trusting God with the circumstances of my life. It is sometimes an elusive thing - giving way to a fear that threatends to bury me. I have to grab hold of it over and over again. The amazing thing I've found is that I really don't have to work that hard to attain it - I simply have to let Him give it to me. I have to loosen my tight grip on what I perceive as control of my life (and the lives of those I love most) and give it over to Him. When I do that, the peace takes me by surprise. I suddenly realize I'm not worrying and fretting and trying to work things out - I am at peace.
Sorry - this is getting far too long. You have, as always, touched my heart with this.
Have a blessed sunday with the family.

Reese said...

I'm at a place in my life where peace is hard to find. My husband's deployed to the Middle East, I'm in a foreign country with four kids ages preschool to teenage, I'm itching to get back home, I'm often feeling overwhelmed. Today I've been feeling God's arms around me, and finding your post helped too.

"Seek peace and pursue it." There are definitely a few things I can do to pursue more peace, and for the things I can't change, "the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer."

Amen.

And thanks.

God bless,
Reese

Cyndi said...

Linda,

YES. I've been having to pursue trusting God with circumstances as well. One thing I heard teaching on last week was discerning whether something is a circumstance or a consequence. I've been surprised to see what I really have brought on myself. And, of course, there are circumstances over which I have No. Control. and I'm so tempted to give in to fear. Phil. 4:6 has helped me so much, to remember to pray generally and ask specifically about *everything.* You're right! All we have to do is "let Him give it." That's almost too amazing to realize for me. And my illusion of control is so hard to give up. :::sigh:::

Cyndi said...

Reese,

I hope I didn't trivialize what you are going through by suggesting that peace can be found simply by cleaning closets! There are times that it would be great if it were that easy. I can't imagine how peace might be eluding you right now. I have found recently that by pursuing the peace I can (by obedience, by letting Him direct me to some changes that need to be made) that He's supplying the further peace in other areas (the "peace snowball"). And yes! His eyes are on you and His ears are attentive to your prayer.

I'm so glad to know you're there, so I can be praying right along with you!

Dianne said...

Good post. Love 1 Peter and the thoughts on peace.

I've been doing a similar thing with the Bible reading, spending a month or 2 in the same book. But MacArthur's idea about just reading through the OT is an equally good idea.

Kelly said...

This is a great post. It will stay with me for a long time (or at least all week; pregnancy brain, you know) because there is so much truth inherent within. I will be praying about where my peace lies and how God would want me to pursue it.

Dandelion Momma-Janis said...

The sad thing is that I don't know where my peace is anymore. I am going to have to pray about that. I am not a house cleaner, but the things stacked up everywhere do begin to bother me after a while. Seek peace and pursue it. Thanks for making me think today.

Joni said...

My favorite peace verse is "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on Thee" from Isaiah. "Staying the mind" definitely requires pursuit. One thing that I love about this scripture is that the Hebrew word for peace (shalom) is used twice --where our translation says perfect peace the Hebrew actually says shalom, shalom. Cool, huh?

Deidre said...

"Prayerfully ask where (peace) may be found" - wow! And, pursue it! I love that, Cyndi. God just spoke to my heart in a huge way after reading this post. I'm coming back to read it again. Thank you!

Oh, and the question "Who was president when you bought it?" Priceless! I love that.

LeftCoastOnlooker said...

thank you for the encouragement!
While no one can rob me of my peace, I think I've been letting someone do that, until last week, when I heard James McDonald talking about the fact that I'll NEVER be able to please certain people, & I don't have to -- which led to some time alone with God & I think I'm back to peace

Wendy said...

Ah, getting things organized helps me so much too!

Great post!

Susanne said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this Cyndi!!
I am/was JUST LIKE THAT!! I used to be a freak about my house...just like you said, in bondage over every little detail. Then I asked to be released, and God answered. (Hallelujah!) But the pendulum has swung all the way in the other direction, and now I am in the midst of the chaos you were talking about...and again..IN BONDAGE!!
I have read Beth Moore's Breaking Free and Get Out of That Pit, and I have to tell you, I DON'T WANT THOSE SHACKLES ON ME!!!
I have begun the process (completely cleaned and reorganized the boys' bedroom and closet two weeks ago) but with my trip coming up, that is as far as I have gotten. My plan when I get back from Dallas is to do the same to my bedroom, and the little girl's. Then out to the garage and playroom. It is so inspiring to hear that someone else has gone through the same things. Thank you for sharing how you pursued the peace of an orderly home!! You truly blessed me sweet sister!
Have a great week!

lori said...

Cyndi,
I am a BELIEVER in seeking peace. I know that God is orderly...His creations are so perfectly orderly, not chaotic. I learned a long time ago that there are many things that I cannot prevent, or change...those I need to give to God, but when I take charge over my household, and create order and peace, when the storms of life hit, and they will...God wants me to "give it to HIM" and clean the closet! We all feel better in the end! Its just doing my part.
I loved this one!

Mindy said...

Thanks Cyndi for this post.....now I just have to figure where my peace is found.
In HIM -- I know but exactly where I am unsure.....

In HIM -
Mindy

Hind's Feet said...

Cyndi,
THanks for your insightful post. God must have led me to your blog at just the right moment. After reading and thinking I blogged my own perspective...
Shalom, (peace)
Kim
p.s. my post is found at the following spot if you are interested... no pressure
http://randomthoughtsandotherfunthings.blogspot.com/2007/07/its-like-trying-to-catch-wind.html

marinasepeda said...

Hi, I just found your blog and love it I really like what you had to say about cleaning each room at a time ,but my bigest nigtmare is my6year old sons toy room if you could see it it's so full of toys everwhere I have tried everything ,anyone who walks in ther will step on a toy ,any adivce??my name is marina I live in south Texas I have be born again since highschool ,got serious at age 21. I don't have a blog yet but I am working on it.
please if you have any ideas on toy room please pass them on other than given them all away.thanks marina