Peace and pebbles


“One of the more irritating sensations in life is to have a rock in your shoe. I’m sure it’s happened to you. Maybe you rush out of the door into a day full of activities, only to realize within seconds that there is a pebble rolling around in your sneaker. How it got there, you have no idea. It wasn’t there yesterday. And your shoes have been in the closet all night, not in a gravel quarry. But somehow this irritant, this aggressive grain of grit, inserted itself into your shoe and your life.

You’re too busy or too distracted—or too lazy—to deal with it. That would require a multistep process, after all. Stop, bend over, untie shoe, take out rock, put shoe back on, tie shoe. Who has time for that? So you spend the rest of the day limping around. Periodically you stop and tap your shoe sideways on the ground in hopes the rock will dislodge and slide into a less uncomfortable place in your shoe.

That tiny stone, practically invisible, might as well be a boulder. It begins to rule your life. It dominates your thoughts. You don’t want to stand or walk because subconsciously you know it will be waiting for you. You find yourself getting irritable and grumpy. You question the meaning of life and the existence of God. You start to harbor bitter thoughts toward rocks and cliffs and anything remotely stone-like. You consider running away from the pain and angst of life and moving to a cabin in Montana.

Finally you can’t take it anymore. You take twelve seconds out of your life to remove the rock. Then you slide your shoe back on and stand up. Inside, you brace yourself in case nothing has changed. But the rock is gone, and the feeling of relief is palpable. It’s massive. It’s like you got a new lease on life. You wonder, Why didn’t I stop to take that out hours ago? Good question. When it comes to our walk with God, something similar can happen. Without realizing it, small issues can work their way between God and us. Unresolved issues start to steal our joy and ruin our peace. They keep us from enjoying our walk with God like we should. Yes, we still love God. Yes, our relationship with him is the best part of life. We aren’t going to give up on God anytime soon. But the underlying, unresolved issues need to be addressed. These figurative rocks in our shoes can be many things. For example, maybe we had an expectation in a particular area of need in our lives. We prayed, we believed—and nothing happened. We feel like God let us down. Every time we try to believe for the future, there are nagging doubts in our minds. Maybe God isn’t good. Maybe he isn’t watching out for me. Maybe he doesn’t care. Or it could be an area of sin in our lives, a temptation that keeps getting the best of us. We know it’s wrong, and we want to change. We’ve tried and failed and tried and failed again. We live with a sense of guilt, and it spoils our relationship with God. If that’s you, I’m not trying to minimize your struggle or your pain. I’m not going to tell you that it’s as easy to fix as taking off your shoe and shaking out the offending pebble. And it’s certainly going to take longer than twelve seconds. But I do want to say that in any relationship, a certain amount of confusion, miscommunication, and even offense is normal. Peace doesn’t mean avoiding all pain and misunderstanding. Peace is a lifestyle. It’s a relationship. It’s a commitment. Peace isn’t so much absence of conflict as it is quick, consistent conflict resolution. Peace with God is about walking through the good times and the bad, knowing that no matter what happens or how confusing things are, he is committed to our well-being. God doesn’t get his feelings hurt when we don’t understand his decisions. And he doesn’t get frustrated with us when we can’t seem to get the victory over a character defect or temptation. God is bigger than that. He’s more committed to us than that.

Paul pointed out that peace with God doesn’t mean lack of difficulties—but it does mean we can have faith in his love for us.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us . . . We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:1–5)

If there is anything hindering our walk with God, it’s probably easier to deal with than we realize. But the answer isn’t to ignore the pebble and just hope it will go away. It’s to go to God with transparency and trust and make our peace with him. Maybe you need to take time to address some issues between yourself and God. Issues of disappointment, of guilt, of fear, of doubt. Don’t wait any longer. Don’t limp through life, trying to ignore the fact that things between you and God aren’t as comfortable as they could be. God offers you true peace with him. You’ll be amazed how quickly God can bring healing to your heart and how fulfilling life is when the rocks are removed.

Excerpt From

Life Is _____ Forty-Day Experience

Judah Smith