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The Secret to Peace

by Norita Sieffert

posted in Self Improvement

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I remember watching the movie The Empire Strikes Back when I was a kid, and one scene always stuck with me. At the time I couldn't quite understand what the character Yoda was saying. But as I've gotten older it's begun to make more sense. In the scene, Luke has traveled to Yoda's home world and he wants to be trained as a Jedi knight. But Yoda already thinks he's too old. The audience, of course, is on pins and needles. Will Yoda accept him as a student? Will Luke become a Jedi? We all hope so. Then Yoda says that he's been watching Luke for a long time. And Luke is always looking away to the future. He's never had his mind on where he was or what he was doing. And this was a big problem.
"What's wrong with that?" I remember asking myself at the time. "Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Always be planning for the future? Always be looking ahead so that we're not caught off guard?" Yes, this is exactly what society says successful people do. Those who 'make it' in life are those who are prepared. Everyone else is running to catch up. A day late and a dollar short, as they say.
The only problem with this mentality is that there is no peace. The future is uncertain. No matter how much we prepare for it, we can't possibly be ready for every contingency. So we can never relax; we can never stop working. Everything is worry and stress and anxiety. In Star Wars, when Luke's mind was in turmoil the Force was out of balance. For us in the real world, when our minds are in turmoil our lives are out of balance. We can't sleep, we can't eat, or we overeat trying to relieve the stress. We ruin friendships and opportunities, and we burden our families with our cares.
Jesus said the same thing. In Matthew 6:25-34, He told us not to worry about tomorrow, and that today's troubles were sufficient for us. Instead, He said, we should seek first God's kingdom, and after that all that we needed would be added to us. Again, when I was younger I had trouble grasping this. How could I not think about tomorrow? Wouldn't I be a bad person if I didn't plan? What about my family? My job? My future?
Now that I'm older, I'm beginning to understand the wear and tear the constant worry puts on our minds and bodies. Always looking away to the future robs me of peace. I have no control over what's coming next, so worrying about it does no good. And planning for every eventuality is impossible. So what am I to do? Jesus asked whether any of us thought that worrying could add a single hour to our lives (Mt. 6:27). The answer is no. So again, what am I to do? What are we all to do?
We need to stop looking away to the future, as Yoda said, or worrying about tomorrow, as Jesus said. We need to pay attention to the very moment that we are in right now. If there is something that we mustn't forget, then we should begin to utilize whatever tool we have to remind us when the time comes. If I have an important meeting or deadline, I use my phone's calendar. Some people use sticky notes. Others use a wall calendar or an electronic reminder. We should write down the things that we are responsible for, and then we need to let them go.
God never promised us tomorrow, or even the rest of today. All we are promised is this exact minute. Francis Schaeffer was fond of saying that we should live moment by moment. God is with us right now in this exact minute. There is a lot of peace in that. We don't get tomorrow until it becomes today, and we don't get the next hour until it becomes now. So we need to learn to live right now in this moment. In this moment I am abiding in Christ. No matter what happens later, at this moment in time I am warm and well fed. I am comfortable and protected from the elements. Yes, I have unsaved family members and friends with sicknesses. All I can do is pray for them and entrust their care to my heavenly Father. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But at this moment I can rest in Christ. And even if I was out on the streets in this very moment, cold and hungry, I could still choose to abide with Christ and have peace that He knows my needs and is already answering my prayers for warmth and food.
The real secret to peace is to stop looking away to all the uncertainties out there in the future. Peace is found right now at this moment as we trust in our Lord who gave up everything for us. He's promised to never to leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). We must break the habit of worrying about things we can't control and begin to abide right here in this minute. In 60 seconds it will be gone, and what, by worrying, will we have to show for it? Certainly not peace.
About the Author: Dr. Sieffert is a writer and speaker on multiple topics related to Christianity and preparedness. She's published a dozen books, including eight fiction novels, one non-fiction book, and a series of children's books. Her latest fiction novel, Unprepared, tells the story of a young woman struggling to find peace in a world changed by a nationwide catastrophe. Go to http://www.amazon.com/author/nsieffert to view this book on Amazon. To browse other fiction and non-fiction books by Dr. Sieffert, you can also visit her website at http://www.nsieffert.com.
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