The Key to Peace and Rest in 2017

Years ago a friend who had rappelled many times talked me into giving it a go.

So, he rigged me up, tied the rope to a tree, then told me to jump off backwards into thin air from a 1000 foot high cliff. Well, actually it was about 60 feet but it looked like 1000 as I stood on the edge trying to get up the nerve to take the leap. The main ingredient this act involved was trust. I had to trust my friend – trust that he knew what he was doing; trust that he had tied the rope to the tree correctly; trust that the rope wouldn’t break; trust that my friend had rigged me up right in the harness. So after a few minutes of me trying to decide if I’d rather die by jumping off backwards or be mocked for being a coward, I took the plunge. And lived. I trusted my friend with my life and survived.

We trust people all the time. When I deposit money in the bank I trust that they aren’t going to steal it and that they are going to keep it for me. I don’t say, “Can I go look in the vault and see where you put my money?” When I go to a doctor and he gives me a prescription I don’t say, “Are you sure that that’s the best medicine for me right now?” I take the prescription to CVS and when they hand me the medicine, I don’t ask, “Are you sure you gave me the right medicine?”

When I travel on an airplane as I board the plane I don’t ask the stewardess “Is the captain really qualified to fly it? Would you mind if I see his pilot’s license? Can I see his diploma from flight school? Did you guys remember to fill the gas tank? Has anyone checked the landing gear lately to make sure the screws are all tight?” No! I don’t ask any of these questions. I don’t know a single person who works for the airline – not a pilot or mechanic or a bag checker – but I just assume they are qualified and have done their jobs and I get on the plane and entrust my entire life to them.

No. We trust people all the time. We trust people with our money. We trust people with our health and our lives. How much more we should trust God. He tells us to trust in him and his word.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

This simple verse describes our whole Christian life. This is also our biggest challenge – are we going to trust in the Lord with all our heart or lean on our own understanding? Are we going to trust God’s word and his promises or are we going to trust our own evaluation of our circumstances? This is exactly how Satan tempted Eve in the garden. She told Satan that God had said the day they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die. Satan said, “You won’t die – you’ll be like God.” She looked at the fruit and it looked good – it looked like it would give her wisdom and delight. It didn’t look like it would destroy her. What would she do? Would she trust in the Lord with all her heart or lean on her own understanding? We know what she and Adam did and we know the outcome.

First of all, trusting God is the key to eternal life:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” JN 3.16

To believe in Jesus means that we trust that he is who he said he was and to trust what the Bible says about him and what he has done to redeem us from our sins. To believe in Jesus means that we trust that he is eternal God who became a man, lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to his Father, then took the sins of the world upon himself and then endured the punishment those sins deserved – the wrath of God, that he died, then rose physically from the dead and ascended to heaven. And when we believe in Jesus we trust in him to take away our sins because of his death on the cross. And we trust that he gives us eternal life. If we lean on our own understanding we won’t receive anything from God. We could never understand how a baby lying in a manger could be God. We could never understand in ourselves how one man could pay for the sins of every human being who ever lived. We could never understand how a man could die then in 3 days rise from the dead. So we trust in the Lord with all our heart when we believe in Jesus.

Not only is trusting God is the key to eternal life but it’s the key to experiencing peace and rest in this life:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” IS 12.2

When we trust in God we are not afraid. When we trust in God we find strength. When we trust in God we have a song to sing. When we trust in God, he saves us and rescues us not only spiritually but from dangers and troubles in this life.

He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. Psalm 112:7-8

When we trust in God we won’t be afraid of bad news. That’s why I don’t watch a whole lot of news. I would rather fix my gaze and trust on God. When we trust in the Lord our hearts are firm. If we put our trust in the economy or our government or anything but the Lord our hearts will not be firm. If we trust in our own wits and our own ability to navigate this life, we’ll be fearful and anxious and not experience God’s peace. When we trust in God he keeps our hearts steady.

So fix your eyes on Jesus as the year begins. Put your trust in him. Maybe watch less news. The key to peace is constant trusting in God. If it’s hard for you to do this, ask Jesus to help you trust him. Ask him for peace. Ask him for joy. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Look to God’s word and believe it.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.