In Pursuit of Peace

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Over the last few years, I have reread Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s biography by Eric Metaxas several times, captivated by Bonhoeffer’s relentless hope in the most perilous of times. He was a well-known German pastor, theologian, and vocal opponent to the Nazi dictatorship in WWII, eventually executed by the Nazis for his outspoken faith and political activism, when he was only 39. Over a decade earlier, he had come to the United States for seminary and could have stayed here where he would have been safe and secure, but he believed that God needed him, and the people of Germany needed him to fight this war of evil, not run from it. He decided to go back knowing that he would be targeted by the Nazi regime. He chose to go back to the hornet’s nest.

There is a paragraph in his biography that spoke to me about his bravery.

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.[1]

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For years I had chosen security, the majority of my life, actually. I was terrified of flying, so I found myself hiding from opportunities that would be further than a car ride away. As Restore has grown, I have worked to fight through my anxieties, surrendering as best I could to endure a flight to Central America or the occasional trip to Europe. As I have gotten older, though, the trips are longer, the physical effects make me weary, my nervous anticipation increases, and I often feel dread when an opportunity arises.

Earlier this year I had a choice to go to Africa with Restore, a place I have never been, spending nearly 24 hours traveling to arrive in a remote village to spend a week with 20 people whom I have never met. I did not have to go. The secure thing would be to just stay here, in Tennessee, avoiding all of the unpleasant feelings that I knew would accompany my travels.

Traveling wasn’t the way to safety, it wasn’t a place of security. It was going to be extremely difficult, scary, and uncomfortable. I would have no security or control. My only source of bravery came from the overwhelming peace that I knew I was supposed to go, because God had called me. It was apparent that God had opened a door and He was saying that He wanted me to go to Africa.

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As Bonhoeffer said, God promises peace is possible, but only with great courage.

I have grown immensely from my trip to Africa. It has called me into a deeper call to living in the peace of faith so that I will follow His lead and His guiding into my destiny.

 

[1] Metaxas, Eric. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Page 241

Am I living a fear-based life or a faith-based life?

Written By: Scott Reall

Am I living a fear-based life or a faith-based life?

It appears to me that almost all fears that creep into my life come from a place of distrust. Where my faith is short and my vision of God is blurred, I fall into patterns of anxiousness and dysfunction.

In essence the world has crowded God out of my life and fear has taken root.

All through Jesus’ life he encourages us to not fear, but to have courage and to have faith. Am I living a fear-based life or a faith-based life? This has been a place of great inconsistency with me, thus the sporadic patterns of sometimes peace and other times of bitter isolation and angst. I believe the answer is in the transformation of my heart. Peace comes from entrusting God with all my life—not just “spiritual” places, but deep into the recesses of my human heart.

If I will go there with Him and surrender all at that level, I will find no regrets or real fears; no more shame no more doubt. I will be left with “the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding[1]“. This is where I want to live the remaining days of my life.

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[1] Philippians 4:7 – NKJV