By Major Beth Desplancke
When you think of the Fourth of July what comes to mind? For me, I instantly think fireworks. My in-laws live in a community near Los Angeles and in their city, safe and sane fireworks are legal. None of the neighboring communities allow fireworks of any kind. What that means is a lot of people converge on the community of Lawndale and bring their fireworks with them. We have been able to spend many Independence days there and enjoy the fireworks that explode literally over our heads.
Although Lawndale communicates what fireworks are allowed, most are not the legal fireworks. As we sit in the front yard and watch all that is taking place, it feels like a war zone. Along with the beautiful, colorful displays comes smoke, noise, explosions, and loud booms. You will also hear car alarms being triggered by the vibrations from the blasts. In addition, screeching sirens of various emergency vehicles fills the air. It really becomes chaotic and anything but peaceful.
But when I keep my eyes focused on the sky and get lost in the beautiful colors and patterns of the fireworks, I can almost tune out the noise and chaos around me. Instead of jumping with each loud blast, I am calm and mesmerized by the fireworks.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. We don’t need to have life around us be calm to experience peace. Peace is a person – Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied about who the Messiah would be. In Isaiah 9:6 he shared several names for Him, one of which is the Prince of Peace. When we know Jesus, we can experience peace despite the chaos that is all around us. How can we experience peace despite the craziness that surrounds us? Again, Isaiah tells us how.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT
Peace comes when we choose to fix our eyes and our thoughts on Him, and not on the circumstances that are around us. When I focus on the noise and the smoke of the fireworks, I miss the beauty that they bring. But when I choose to look up and direct my attention to just one thing, the chaos and noise fades into the background.
Remember when the disciples were caught in a boat in a storm and they panicked. They were afraid because the sea was raging, the waves were crashing, and the boat was filling with water. What was Jesus doing? He was asleep (see Mark 4:38)! Despite the lack of peace around Him, He was at peace.
We don’t have to have peaceful circumstances to experience peace. We simply must turn to the source of peace – Jesus. When life is anything but relaxing, and anxiety, worry, panic, or dread has our mind swirling, we need to keep our thoughts fixed on God. How? Paul gives us the answer.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
My prayer for each of us as we enjoy the Fourth of July celebration (including BBQs, time with friends and family, and perhaps even fireworks) is that we remember that peace comes through Jesus Christ. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT)