Snowflakes swirled around us as we said goodnight. He brushed accumulated snow off his car, then drove away, leaving deep tracks in the road.
No one else wanted to drive tonight, but he had to get home. And home was 2 1/2 hours down a dark and slippery highway.
It was a weekend like any other. My fiancee had driven all afternoon on Friday to stay with my family for the weekend, only to drive all the way back home on Sunday evening. It was no big deal. We did it every weekend.
Except for the snow.
An anxious chill nipped at my heart as his car disappeared into the blizzard.
He’d be fine, right? He was a good driver.
The cool fingers of fear tugged their way into my mind as the hours went by. Snow piled higher on the fence and drifted across the driveway. This was a bad one.
Surely he should be home by now, right? But he hadn’t called yet, so he must not be home.
Hours went by, many more hours than it should have taken him to drive, even going at a safe pace.
I couldn’t stop imagining all the horrible things that could have happened to him along that dark and slippery highway in a snowstorm. They ate away at my mind, taking huge bites of my peace of mind and replacing it with fear and anxiety.
I prayed. Kneeling on my bedroom floor, I begged God to keep him safe.
But it was only when I got to the point of opening my hands and saying “not my will, but your will”, did I experience peace. It was feeling I will never forget.
A stillness descended on my heart and mind like a blanket, protecting me from the chill of anxiety and fear.
And I kid you not, minutes later he called to tell me he was home safe. He had encountered some problems along the way, chief among them being the truck he had nearly slid into, causing him to plow into a snowdrift instead.
But he was ok.
/ / /
I realize that not every story ends up happy. Nearly a year later, my sister went off the road and never made it back home. But I learned so much through this experience.
1) I can’t control the world
That’s the deepest root of anxiety, isn’t it? A sense of powerlessness. A lack of control over so many things in our lives.
From political and economic problems to floods and fires and death, we are powerless.
I couldn’t even control my reaction to waiting extra long for a phone call, never mind being able to control the weather or the other vehicles on the road.
Unfortunately, God doesn’t make the bad stuff go away.
The reason we dislike this sense of powerlessness is that we know life rarely goes as planned. We KNOW the rug can be pulled out from under our life at any time.
We live in a broken world and we know it.
(Want to read some testimonies about hope in this broken world?
Read my story of the loss of my sister,
the story of my friend who lost her infant son,
a friend whose husband left,
a friend whose father passed away when she was young,
and a friend whose father walked the long hard road of dementia.)
We fret, because we do not know the future.
2) Inner peace is not related to outer circumstances
I was anxious.
That seems like a natural attitude when confronted with one’s own complete lack of control.
But as I prayed, God poured out peace over me in such a supernatural way that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was him.
I had peace before I expected it. Peace came before I knew that my fiancee was ok.
And I know where it came from.
3) We have access to the ultimate Peace Giver.
Want to know what Jesus is called in Ephesians 2:14?
Paul tells us that “He himself is our peace.”
Not just the giver of peace, or the bringer of peace, Christ is the full embodiment of peace. There is no anxiety to be found in him.
But peace has two meanings.
It can mean the calm serenity that we deeply desire in our lives.
It also means to cease fighting, or to stop a war.
Is there a fight going on in your mind today? Is there a part of you that is fighting tooth and nail for control, even when any control you have is only an illusion?
I know you want that calmness of spirit, but to get it, you have to be willing to cease fighting for control, to stop the war in your mind.
It’s not that easy, I know. That moment I said to God, “not my will, but your will” was excruciatingly hard because the worst could have happened. But in those words, I gave up control to God.
The good news is that God does not drop us into this broken world and leave us to fend for ourselves. He desires for us to call on him, to pray and intercede, and to know him deeper. He desires to help us grow into creations filled with love, joy, and peace.
/ / /
If this has resonated with you and you would like to go deeper, I invite you sign up for 5 days of meditations on the nature of true peace, sent right to your email inbox.
Each email includes a short meditation on how peace is presented in the Bible, a prayer, as well as one practical anxiety-busting method to try.
*Please note, I am not a psychologist or therapist. Deep anxiety disorders that need medication exist, and I don’t intend to trivialize that reality. But I take to heart the words spoken of the first disciples of Christ:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13
I am an unschooled, ordinary woman.
But I have been with Jesus, the Peace Maker, the Peace Giver, and the original Peace himself.
Join me on this journey, and may the God of peace Himself give you peace.