December 27, 2018

Inner Peace

She was in her early teens when we were shopping before Christmas in a grocery store. It was crowded. People were rushing, some pushing. I said something about the hustle and bustle around us. My daughter replied, “But mom, we don’t have to hurry on the inside.”

She doesn’t remember saying this, but I’ve never forgotten it. Like a word from the Lord, it dove straight into my heart and became a goal, a target for my spiritual life. Being busy like Jesus was always busy, yet being totally at rest with peace and calm in the heart.

Today’s passage reminds me again of the wonder of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah is speaking of the turmoil in the lives of God’s people. He says it will persist, but even in this unrest, God is promising them peace. They will know the anxieties . . .

“. . . until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:15–18)

The New Testament says it like this:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)

Tozer gives solid advice about spiritual disciplines that cultivate this inner rest. While we cannot produce it, we can put ourselves in ‘places of grace’ where the Spirit is given freedom to enrich our souls with peace on the inside. Tozer says the first thing is to retire from the world each day to some private spot and stay there until the surrounding noises begin to fade and a sense of God’s presence replaces them. This means deliberately tuning out all unpleasant noise, both outer and inner, and listening for the Spirit’s voice. Learning to recognize it.

Also, stop all competition. Give myself to God and be what and who I am without any concern about what others think. This includes reducing my interests to a few. If my mind is filled with a dozen concerns, concentrate on the most important. I am with God. He deserves my full attention.

In this discipline of solitude, learn to pray inwardly. Soon prayer will happen while working, doing other things, even hurrying.

Along with solitude, God wants me to practice sincerity, childlike honesty, humility, singleness of purpose. Tozer says to read less but read more of what is important to my inner life. Call home my roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of my soul. Practice spiritual concentration.

All of this will not produce that peace that passes understanding. It comes from the Holy Spirit, but as Tozer says, God gives Himself to a heart that is detached. He would sooner be in a solitary heart than any other.

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isaiah 57:15)

Lord Jesus, this week has been busy, yet You offered many reasons and occasions for that inner solitude, that being alone with You even in the midst of noise and busyness. How precious. And thank You for my daughter who cannot remember speaking for You that long ago day but is still a great blessing to me because of it.

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