A Place of Peace

Upper Butte Creek FallsThis is Upper Butte Creek Falls, in Oregon. (Click the picture for an immersive, interactive view.)

Scenes like this evoke sense of calm and serenity. I find it easy to linger in such spots, just enjoying the environment and the lack of craziness. The only motion is a continuous stream of falling water, an unending supply of refreshment and peace. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have this peace in the rest of our lives?

This is a common wish, perhaps in the form of a white sand beach or a solitary mountain top, but the busyness of life, the interruptions and stress, and the quest for elusive satisfaction, all get in the way. We may be able to achieve momentary happiness that results from a temporary lack of these things, but real peace doesn’t depend on our surroundings or circumstances. There’s too much we can’t control, and too much that we can’t easily ignore.

If you pan around in the photograph, you’ll see an ugly log. For many, its aesthetics mar the peaceful nature of the scene, so it’s tempting to keep our focus on the waterfall. In real life we can mirror this by keeping our focus on things or circumstances that give us peace. This doesn’t really work, though, because life intrudes on our meditations and focus. In fact, to stay so very focused on one or a few things all the time would rob us of much that life has to offer. We don’t want to escape this world, but to live fully in it.

Instead, we need a source of peace that transcends location and circumstance. We need to carry that flowing water with us no matter the circumstances. Then we can have the peace we crave in the midst of any situation, any place. But how do we do that? In a world of constant interruption and struggle, where is the peace that we seek?

Perhaps, because the world is fundamentally broken, the real peace we seek must be apart from this world. At best, we can experience moments of calm in the storm that is life, but to walk in that calm can’t be a result of this place.

So we turn our focus outside, but what does this mean? The starting point is the starting point of everything — whatever existed before this world was created must be part of what we are seeking. In particular, we come to the creator — the one who existed before we were created, who brought this world into existence, and who continues to hold it in his hands.

For a moment, ponder the fact that you were created as a unique individual. The creator didn’t bring you into existence randomly, but as a deliberate and willful act, with love, identity, and purpose. Finding that purpose needs to be a deliberate and willful act on our part, but knowing it sets us on a path towards the peace we want. This peace transcends circumstances because they cannot touch who we really are. When we discover and live that out, every circumstance becomes an opportunity to fulfill our true nature, concerns become rejoicing, and anxiety melts away in trust.

Start that deliberate search today by seeking his heart.

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