Last October was anything but peaceful for the Peters family. I was pregnant, raising an almost two-year-old, and missing Ike who was already working in Fayetteville. We had to sell our Little Rock house, find a place to live up here and, as if that weren’t a well-shaken stress cocktail, I did not want to move.
I grew up moving a lot as a kid, so you’d think I’d be used to transplanting. But something happened during those five years in Little Rock. It became home. In a sense, Ike and I grew up with our friends there. We survived and supported each other through job losses and car wrecks. We found a wonderful mentoring ministry. We started having babies. And I actually loved that Ike’s family lived down the street.
My head knew that Ike’s career opportunity in Northwest Arkansas was far better suited for his talent and interests, but my heart, selfishly, savagely didn’t care.
So, last October as I kicked and screamed against the move, a tiny part of me that wasn’t totally stubborn knew how little I had even attempted to pray about the change. I think pretending it was me against the big
I may not be able to change my circumstances, but (only) with God’s help, I can change my outlook.
bad move suited my rainy parade much better than allowing God into the picture. But with encouragement from my mom and Ike, I decided to spend a little time — I actually called it my “Daily 15” — reading and praying.
When Felley asked me to write about the theme of peace, I immediately thought about that study journal I started just before the move. On page one, the theme I covered was Peace.
I needed peace. Miraculous peace. The kind of peace I knew would come if I talked to God. Peace I was too busy running from to admit how badly I needed it. Peace I could not conjure up by myself, no matter how much I tried.
So, in my non-Bible scholar way, I Googled something like “verses about Peace” and worked my way through the results over the next week or so.
I found verses about peace that the world cannot give, promised to people in much more dire situations than moving away from free babysitting (John 14:27, 20:19). I wrote them down. I found verses that prescribe prayer instead of worry (Philippians 4:6-7), service instead of self-obsession (Romans 14:17-19) and love and joy instead of circumstantial happiness (2 Corinthians 12:11). I read them. I wrote them down. I prayed.
And peace came. And left. And came and left. And I have to admit I’m still stuck in that cycle. When doubts, insecurities and rose-tinted nostalgia plague me now and steal my peace, I have to remember that I may not be able to change my circumstances, but (only) with God’s help, I can change my outlook.
And of course, Isaiah 61:1-11, the passage we’ll study this week, is also full of hope and good news (but I didn’t find it last year because it doesn’t specifically have the word peace, ha). There’s good news, like we serve a God who loves justice. And in a world where so much doesn’t make sense, I can’t get enough of that promise.
I’m thankful for the Advent season and the opportunity to write about God’s often-repeated promise of peace. It was an opportunity for me to dust off my studies from last year and be reminded yet again of the peace that is available to me and all of us.
Alexis Peters is wife to Ike and mom to two boys, Elliott (3) and Ira (just under 1). She's a freelance writer, serial baker, habitual reader and podcast addict.