My steps slowed as I came up the gravel slope. The thunder of the waterfall greeted me as I approached the lookout railing. The flood of water plunging into the river below mesmerized me as I leaned over to catch my breath. The warm spring air collided with the rising spray, cooling my face.
A minute more of rest, and I was ready to begin my trek along the river. The crashing water would soon fade and be replaced with slower rhythms upstream. The gravel path followed the winding river. The incline finally flattened as I reached my favorite spot. Here the water still kept a steady pace, but the rush quieted to a peaceful flow. If I wasn’t careful, I could run right past the secluded spot. Tucked just beyond the tall grasses, a rocky bank provided the perfect place for peaceful reverie. A spot to think, to pray, to cool my feet, to rest before continuing my journey further upstream where the path opened up into a beautiful meadow.
I lingered for several minutes, reluctant to leave. The calming constancy of the river provided a welcomed break, but now it was time to resume my run. I peaked over my shoulder at the smooth boulder I had sat upon – I’ll be back soon.
Several years have now passed since I frequented that peaceful spot along the river. Life looks quite different now compared to those days when I was tucked in an Austrian village attending Bible school. Moments of peace and quiet were much easier to come by; the environment I lived in was slow-paced and my minimal responsibilities gave me ample time to retreat.
It’s certainly tempting to link my time in Austria with peaceful living, and to think that those simpler days were my taste of peace in this bustling world – days that are now just a memory. It’s tempting to think that peace is only possible under ideal circumstances or that it can only be created by my own efforts.
These temptations have a poignant way of revealing the deeper longing, in each of us, for lasting and satisfying peace. As much as I treasured my time in Austria, I am very grateful I don’t have to be physically there (or by the river’s edge) to enjoy a peaceful life. The peace I have been promised in Jesus Christ does not rest on where I am in the world or agreeable circumstances.
The lasting peace my soul longs for does not depend on the perfect circumstances but on my perfect Savior.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1-5)
Leading up to this passage, Paul declares that the same Jesus in whom Abraham believed by faith is the very One who was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
It is because of Christ that we are no longer alienated from God and it is by His grace that we are forgiven. In placing our faith in Jesus, we claim His righteousness as our own and are now reconciled to God!
That is the foundation of our peace, dear friends. We have the freedom to draw near to God with boldness because of Christ’s sacrifice; it is in Jesus that our eternal peace rests.
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11)
The peace of forgiveness we have through Jesus is not simply a comforting pat on the back, “you’re good to go.” We have been granted peace with God by the very Prince of Peace. We will not find a foundation more secure than Christ Himself.
Psalm 103 explodes with praise as David rejoices in the greatness of God and the depth of His forgiveness towards us –
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name … the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger for ever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:1, 8-12)
Please read that verse again, friends.
Our sins are gone. We are forgiven in Jesus’ name. In that knowledge, we can truly rest and live every day abiding in His peace.
Strivings cease because our burden has already been lifted; our sins are forgiven. Jesus invites us to experience His rest and lasting peace, peace we are granted because of His sacrifice.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Friends, whatever circumstances may characterize your days, I pray that you will rest in the peace you have in Christ Jesus and rejoice that you are forgiven.
I want to leave you with the chorus of one of my favorite hymns.
Praise the Lord, His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn’
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more.