No one can see the ‘skeletons’ in a person’s soul. However, they are real and they haunt the memory. Peace cannot be known if they roam the heart land. Some try to drown these ‘bones’ by alcohol or other substances. It works, for a short time. Then the ‘rattling’ begins, louder and with greater torment.Others imagine that being spiritual will vaporise the ‘skeletons’ of their past. Prayer, fasting and church attendances are dutifully applied but with limited effect. Our mind never forgets and our past only needs some ‘trigger’ to bring it into our present. “Is there any hope for peace within?” I was asked “how can I forgive myself?” My reply “you cannot forgive yourself! You created the ‘skeleton’ and you need someone outside and above yourself with authority to forgive.”
Who could that be? Only the Lord Jesus can deal with all your life’s experiences which created the ‘skeletons’ in your soul. He robbed them of their terror, haunting capacity and control by his death on the cross. A new beginning is His to offer to the troubled soul. The noise of rattling ‘bones’ can be silenced. However they are not removed. Written across such unsettling and haunting memories is forgiven. Every-time something brings them before the memory causing fear or shame to taunt there is only way to shut them down. It is taking the promise and authority of Christ Jesus and saying to your soul “I have been forgiven, cleansed and redeemed.” The ‘skeleton’ cannot overcome such a fact. It must retreat back into the recesses of your mind. Colossians 2:6-15
What good is that? How can I have peace knowing my soul has a ‘graveyard where the unsavoury past can rise up to haunt?’ Philippians 4:8 ‘Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ In other words you smother the unsavoury past by such positive things that the ‘bones’ find difficulty in grabbing your consciousness. This takes time. It takes perseverance. It takes getting up after falling over. It takes devotion to the Lord and determination to meet the challenge. Peace isn’t being a pacifist. Peace means your heart and mind are in harmony with God’s word, active in doing what is right, and at rest in the grace of God.
Another threat to inner peace is what the future holds. As we age we realise that so many unpleasant things can happen to our body and our mind. Then there is concern for our family and friends. Sitting upon all that is a World in chaos morally, spiritually and many Nations with a bloodlust mentality. As if that wasn’t enough to give us fear and depression there is the knowledge that at the end of life is an accounting time with God.
Unless we can find answers to these and be offered hope then the future will invade our today. Such intrusion will rob us not only of peace within but also sour our outlook. This in turn will have a repellent effect on our relationships further adding to our distress.
Into this cauldron of the soul comes a word of hope that has the power of an unwavering promise. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3.) How can we count on that? Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament promises about the Messiah. He came, He was tested and proved true. He was betrayed and crucified yet rose again. As we saw last week the Lord used that to make our peace with God the Father. Therefore, on the power of His risen life you can count on Him calming your heart and walking with you into your future.
In John 16:33 Jesus shared this with His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” From the foundation of peace with God our Lord helps us build a refuge of peace within our soul. The material and instructions for this are found within the Christian Bible. A good place to start is the Gospel of John.
Next week: How to be at peace when others want strife.