“Those who plan peace have joy.”
Proverbs 12:20

Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This passage from the Book of Proverbs is part of the section sometimes titled, “Loving Discipleship and Knowledge.” It invites us to learn the way of inner peace.
  • The Book of Proverbs is treasured because of its universal life wisdom. Imagine it as an ancient “Do-This-Not-That” compendium still applicable in our 21st century lives.
  • Peace is an element of Advent, the contemplative season which prepares us for Christmas. But even if Advent isn’t part of our spiritual practice, many of us crave peace, the peace which passes all understanding.
  • True, inner peace, the kind that Jesus and all other spiritual masters know, is freeing. It liberates us from stress, strain, and struggle. And we feel it most when we’re authentic (genuine) about who we are and in integrity (aligned with our true values).
  • Consider the word “plan.” For some of us, planning becomes stressful when we imagine that we must know all of life’s steps, obstacles, details, and byways. We also may feel stressed when we attempt to know how all our plans will unfold.
  • In her 1985 book, Dealing with Stress Through Spiritual Methods, Minister Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann teaches, “Much stress is caused by determination to have your own way.” But “there is a better way . . . God’s way, and it can be followed without stress, strain or force. . . . God’s way is the easy, divinely ordered way. It works for us when we work with it.”

Contemplation Questions:

As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:

  • In what ways, if any, do I feel stressed?
    • Without any analysis or judgment, breathe deeply, and list, word map, or illustrate all the ways. Note everything which feels stressful, no matter how insignificant it seems.
  • When I review each stressor, how am I:
    • Being inauthentic?
      • Circle whatever applies.
    • Out of integrity with what I believe and/or value?
      • Underline whatever applies.
    • Ignoring my intuition, my own still, small, guiding voice?
      • Highlight whatever applies.
  • In which aspects of my life, do I want to feel more inner peace?
    • Without any analysis or judgment, breathe deeply, and list, word map, or illustrate each aspect. Note all you imagine, no matter how insignificant it seems.
  • When I contemplate what feels peaceful to me, in which areas am I:
    • Being authentic?
      • Circle whatever applies.
    • In integrity with what I believe and/or value?
      • Underline whatever applies.
    • Honoring my intuition?
      • Highlight whatever applies.
  • How have I been attempting to free myself from stress in my personal way, rather than in God’s way?
    • List, word map, or illustrate any ways you’ve attempted on your own. In particular, notice any ways you may be trying to force your will or ideas.
  • How can I plan peace, rather than plan a particular action to take or goal to accomplish?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all you can imagine.
  • How am I already following God’s way, rather than my own?
    • List, word map, or illustrate whatever applies.
  • Based on what I know is stressful, as well as what I know is peaceful, what else can I do to follow God’s way more fully?
    • List, word map, or illustrate everything you imagine.

As you use this devotional, ensure that you distinguish true peace from false peace.  If your stomach clenches or teeth grit, that’s a stress signal and could suggest that your integrity or authenticity is slipping.  With true peace, you’ll likely feel relaxed and relieved, exhaling deeply, even if an answer is “No,” or you realize that a door is closed to you.

Also, remember that our job isn’t to know how everything in life will be accomplished.  That’s God’s job.  So, free yourself and focus instead on planning peace as you follow your specific God guidance.  Then trust that the how is revealing itself.

© 2021 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

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