My friend Jean runs marathons. She amazes me with her discipline, her perseverance, and her training. She told me about a book she read titled Born to Run. One thing she learned from the book involved her footwear. She learned that a more basic shoe with less cushioning might be better for her long runs. She went to a local store that fitted her with new shoes. They measured her feet, but also watched her run on a treadmill to observe her particular motion.
Her shoe choice greatly affects her ability to endure the 26.2 miles. Imagine if she tried the run a race with diver fins. What if a ballerina attempted a performance in hiking boots? We choose our shoes with great intentionality according to the task set before us.
In the same way, God wants us to choose appropriate footwear that will bring peace in our individual situations. We may not all run marathons, but we all journey through this life. Sometimes our strength seems almost gone and we think we can’t make it any farther. Other times we feel a burst of adrenaline and we jubilantly enjoy the adventures along the way. One day we will make it to the finish line, but how will we navigate the rough terrain until we make it there?
Today we will look at Scriptural principles to help us choose God’s shoes of peace no matter if we run on slippery gravel or soft grass. Let’s start by thinking of an antonym for peace. What do you consider the opposite of peace? According to the dictionary, the opposite of peace is war. However, the wars in my life that defy my peace often take the form of worry, fear, or anxiety. The Greek word for peace used in Ephesians 6 is eirene meaning: “a state of national tranquility, exemption from the rage and havoc of war, peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord, security, safety, prosperity, felicity, of the Messiah’s peace, the way that leads to peace (salvation)of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is the blessed state of devout and upright men after death.” (Strongs Concordance)
Sounds good. Do you think this definition describes the lives of most Christian women you know? I hope you said yes, however, I find most of us live with a lack of this peace that God gave His only Son to purchase for us. The enemy wants us the toss our shoes aside in the middle of the race. Then barefoot and tired, we lack the peace God longs to give us. So how can we prepare ourselves with the shoes of peace in a very practical sense?
This past Christmas morning I struggled with peace. My daughter who has already lost all of her hair due to alopecia woke up with large red sores on her scalp. She had begun to experience some regrowth when just two weeks before Christmas it all fell out again and this time half her eyelashes went with it. Now she had these painful sores that caused her discomfort wearing her wig. I fretted, then prayed, then worried some more. What could it be? Why did it happen? I asked God to give me His peace knowing that He will take care of my daughter.
As I searched the Scriptures for direction on embracing God’s peace, I found some passages of Scripture with some practical advice in pursuing peace:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 4:6-7
“Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” Isaiah 48:18
“Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” Psalm 119:165
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:7-8
To sum up what God’s Word says through the previous verses about being prepared with God’s shoes of peace we must see the need for intentionality in many areas of our lives. Just as we are very intentional with our running shoes, ballet slippers, or hiking boots, God calls us to stay focused in the race of life with our footwear.
- Remembering those who have gone before us and learning from their examples by studying the lives of great men and women of faith will encourage faith and peace.
- Fixing our eyes on our Savior Jesus will give us endurance when the race gets rough.
- Throwing off the sin that weighs us down will lighten our burdens.
- Larger amounts of time spent in focused prayer will help our anxiety levels.
- Our study and obedience to the principles found in God’s Word will keep us from stumbling off course.
- Yielding our lives to His Spirit moment by moment will bring about the fruit of peace in our souls.
- Cast all our anxiety on God because He cares about every detail of our lives.
We wonder why we live without peace, yet many of us have failed to follow God’s prescriptive practices that help prepare us for the rough terrain of life. When we spend more time studying gossip magazines, indulging our sinful nature, and fixing our thoughts on television and fashion trends instead of Jesus, we fill find ourselves in the middle of a marathon barefoot and struggling.
Now these spiritual disciplines are not what ultimately bring us peace. They only help lead us to the One who is our peace. The more we talk to Jesus, know His Word, and intentionally pursue a relationship with Him, the better protection we will have against the enemy. Satan opposes peace and delights in war. He wants us to neglect the disciplines that lead us to the Prince of Peace.
“The military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.” (Gaebelein 88) God wants us to have the best of footwear to make it through the rough terrain of life. He knows we live in a world where the prince of this world, Satan, constantly bombards us with cancer, divorce, money problems, fighting, loneliness, sickness, and betrayal. God wants to help us endure and offer us His shoes of peace through a close relationship with Him.
He will not force the shoes on our feet against our will like we do with our toddlers who throw a fit about putting on shoes sometimes. During the time of the writing of Ephesians, Roman rule talked much of a peace referred to as the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome. From 27BC to 180AD the Roman Empire claimed peace by force. This stands diametrically opposed to the kind of peace Jesus offers. He holds the shoes of peace out to us, longing for us to wear them boldly as we run the race of life. He devises ways to bring us back to Him, but He won’t force His peace on us. “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) He is waiting at the finish line and longs for you to endure with His peace. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and lace up our shoes of peace to prepare us for the ground beneath our feet today.