Peace Be Still by Ashlynne Bell
I was seventeen years old, and I was sitting at our kitchen table after a four-hour Nutcracker ballet rehearsal. I literally threw my dance bag down after walking through the door. Sugar plum music and candy canes were waltzing in my head, along with all of the choreography I was responsible for. My brain was exhausted, my emotions were spent and my spirituality was far from where it should be.
You see, I was raised in a loving pastor’s home, and I was surrounded by a community of people who loved Jesus. I never stood back and questioned who God was to others, but lived with a raging wind of doubt over my own life. Dancing, which was intended to be Heaven reflected through my hands and feet, had become this pit of obsessive destruction. I was overtaken with an eating disorder and self-righteousness. The mirror that corrected my posture and placement, had become a death sentence of lies and false humility. What had happened to the little girl who twirled in reckless abandonment, for a God whose design was matchless? How had the peace of God and the stillness of His presence been eclipsed by shame, confusion, and chaos?
The next morning, my mom and I were sitting at the breakfast table, drinking coffee. Our conversation had not warranted a fast right turn into discovering my true feelings and inner reality, but I had to get out what was happening in me. So, I asked my heroine, who was sitting in front of me, “Mom, how is it possible to know the God of peace, yet feel no peace at all?” I watched the expression on her face as the question came out of my mouth, and quickly realized that her answer would not be one she found in a book or even heard in a message. Her response to this question of my heart would be from her own inner journey, and place of deep hunger for Jesus.
Before sharing what happens next, I want to give a disclaimer, a preface in this story that truly has shaped the very drive in me to share this with you. The next words that my sweet mother shared were ones of raw truth and real purpose. However, it would be years before my head would submit to my heart, and my chaos would be calmed by His answer. I want you to get this now. I want you to live with a passionate peace, that has the ability to drive out every bit of noise that’s contrary to the voice of God.
Her response was this:
“Ash, you cannot separate peace and the God Who provides it. They are one and the same. HOWEVER, we live in a world today where the chaos is so strong and the confusion so real, that when peace, Whose Name is JESUS, comes knocking on the doorway of our heart, we are unable to recognize it! We become so entangled, yet so reliant on the war in our soul, that we cannot hear the gentle whisper of the One Whose Name releases a peace that will always surpass our understanding and striving. You must be able to QUIET your weary heart, in order to realize that the Prince of Peace stands waiting and ready to make the most beautiful exchange.”
My mother’s words of truth were real, raw and resilient, and they pressed me into a place of trust and a reckoning over what all the enemy had intended for evil. Most of all, they pointed me to this Prince of Peace Who says in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Peace is not some personality trait. It’s not “here today and gone tomorrow.” Peace is not a last-ditch effort. True peace is a person, and His Name is Jesus. That Name remains the same yesterday, today and forever! At the mention of His Name, the storm ceases. With the very breath of heaven, every lie is recalled and sent back to the place from which it came.
I entitled this writing “Peace. Be Still”, but the words actually must be flipped in order to realize what has to happen. We HAVE to bring ourselves to a place of inner stillness, in order to hear the call from the Peacemaker—whose plans are constant and whose promises are without revoke. I wish that my mother’s words had provoked a change in my life instantly, without hardship...but we all know that isn’t usually the case. I want you to understand that regardless of what surrounds you, what might entangle you, or what might be weighing you down, Peace has a Name. Stillness has a Name. Restoration has a Name. Freedom has a Name. Hope has a Name. Healing has a Name. Passion has a Name. Eternity has a Name.
That Name is Jesus, and He is the One standing outside your heart waiting to release all that you’ll ever need.
I speak peace over you today. Whatever you might be facing…He is greater! He is higher and He is stronger! I speak against the lies of the enemy and the fear of man. Be still and know that He is GOD. He is for you and not against you. He is all that He says He is and does what He says He is going to do. There is never a mountain too high, a valley too deep, or a wave too loud that He cannot move through. Now, go and be strengthened today through the peace of our Almighty God!