Peace Like a River

Calming the Storm

In Part 1 we talked about Jesus calming the storm for the frightened apostles. But just before doing that, He asked them, “Why are ye fearful, o ye of little faith?” That’s a question I’ve wondered about many times. Weren’t they demonstrating their obvious faith in Him by asking Him to calm the storm? After all, as seasoned sailors, they could have sailed around or through the storm. Yes, the waves were huge and to the point where the “ship was covered with the waves (see Matthew 8:24)

Why did Jesus ask the apostles why they had no faith? They had been witness to some of the greatest miracles performed up to that point. They believed he had something about him, or else why feel compelled to drop everything and follow him? Isn’t that a sign of faith? What did He really mean?

Perhaps part of the answer can be found in Matthew 6:25-34, especially verse 33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (clothes? food? all your wants and needs?) shall be added unto you.”

I believe it’s important to not be too literal about letting Heavenly Father take care of all of our temporal needs. Obviously, we are capable of working and doing what needs to be done to provide for many of our own temporal needs. The message in verse 33 is, as long as our sights are fixed upon the unwavering light on the horizon, regardless of what storms rage around us, we can find peace in knowing that we will be taken care of.

There are obvious benefits to trusting God, such as feeling a sense of security, lessening our worries and concerns, having more courage and less fear, and of course, peace. But how do you get there?

We can do what the apostles did, and ask Christ to calm the storm that rages around us, but I believe there is a better way.

The Savior’s Example

In D&C 19 we get a first person account from Jesus Himself about what it felt like to undergo the pain of the sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—” (see D&C 19:18).

Then just three verses later He gives us the formula for peace: “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.” (D&C 19:23) He did not receive a respite from the pain of the atonement until after it was over. There was no one there for Him to calm His storm. His peace came from within, and from knowing the purpose of what He was doing. “Nevertheless, glory be to the Father…”

Peace from Within

Peace doesn’t come to us when the circumstances beyond our control are calmed on our behalf. Peace comes to us when we feel the sense of purpose, divine identity, and knowing Who is in control. The type of peace that matters always comes from within.

“Events and circumstances in the last days make it imperative for us as members of the Church to become more grounded, rooted, established, and settled (see Col. 1:23 Col. 2:7 2 Pet. 1:12). Jesus said to His disciples, ‘settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you’ (JST, Luke 14:28). If not so settled, the turbulence will be severe. If settled, we will not be ‘tossed to and fro,’ (Eph. 4:14) whether by rumors, false doctrines, or by the behavioral and intellectual fashions of the world. Nor will we get caught up in the ‘talk show’ mentality, spending our time like ancient Athenians ‘in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing’ (Acts 17:21). Why be concerned with the passing preferences of the world anyway? ‘For the fashion of this world passeth away’ (1 Cor. 7:31).

“However, we cannot be thus settled in doing what Jesus has commanded unless we are first settled about Him.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Overcome…Even As I Also Overcame,” April 1987.)

Peace Like a River

I like to envision the peace that comes from and through the atonement and knowing my identity before God as a river. It’s a peace that flows like a deep, deep river. Constant and steady, strong and sure. The current may be swift underneath, but the river flows atop slow and sure. If you’ve ever seen the Mississippi River or the Columbia River, you have an idea of what this means. It’s a river that appears so calm because it runs so deep. Sometimes it’s so big it looks like a lake. You don’t even know it’s moving.

Just as that current flows through those deep, powerful rivers, there is a current of peace deep within each of us.

There can be storm clouds and all kinds of winds and turmoil, but when you can learn how to turn inward to find your own river, you can know, always, that everything is going to be just fine. In my own life, I used to feel a turmoil that was thick, and it seemed that my river was shallow. But I learned to trust the small trickles of faith and peace I had felt before, until those trickles turned into a deep and powerful stream inside me, until even during the most troublesome times, the turmoil didn’t have any space to get wide because the River was so much deeper in me.

There’s a peace, that flows like a river through your heart, mind and soul. At first, it’s deep, deep down, almost unreachable. But when there’s turmoil or a storm raging around your head, if you look deep down, and that river of peace is still flowing, it tells you that “all is fine; all will work out for your good in the end.” That river is REAL. And it is 100% right, every time. If you look inside and that river is missing, it’s time to look at where you lost track of it, retrace your steps, and let it flow within you again.

Find Your River

Everyone does it a little differently. Some can do it on their own with reading the scriptures. Some find it by journaling. Perhaps you can find it in meditation and long hikes in the mountains. Maybe you find it by talking with those you trust, and who can point you back to the river, without causing more turmoil and drama in the process. Most of us need a bit of ALL of it. (Or a LOT of all of it.) You will find that as you find that center river, you will become strong and and the old things that used to tear you down have no effect on you.

Finding your own personal river and knowing what it feels like to swim and relax in those waters is one thing. This doesn’t mean that all your troubles will disappear. Life will still be life and you will still encounter challenges, trials, moments of doubt and weakness. But once you have found your river, you will learn the path to it again and again, until knowing how to swim in it will become second nature. The storms may still rage around you, but you will know how to draw on the peace that comes from being centered in the atonement, and knowing your own mission and identity as a divine daughter of God.

“And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess, your women and your children, according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and forever” (Alma 7:27).

Now What?

Ask for Divine help in finding your own personal “river.”

  • What did it feel like the last time you felt calm and peaceful?
  • Identify the trigger(s) that pulled you out of that river of peace.
  • Take those things to the Lord and ask for help and solutions.
  • Practice going to your river each day, until the path is as known and worn to you as the route you take to the grocery store.
Laura will be the first to tell you she’s not perfect. That’s why she loves the restored gospel, and loves the atonement.

About the Author:

Laura will be the first to tell you she’s not perfect. That’s why she loves the restored gospel, and loves the atonement.