During my vacation I was blessed to have free time to think and catch up with parts of my life that I have neglected. I also had some opportunities for travel—some day trips on my Goldwing and one trip to Sedona Arizona. If you have never been to Sedona I recommend it and I would be happy to shares some of my photos from its breathtaking beauty. But as I was standing humbly at the base of one of Sedona’s grandest mountain views I also found myself struggling to let go of thoughts about all the distresses of daily life. The list seems endless—turmoil caused by Covid, political uncertainties, cultural grievances and discord, race relations, the general incivility of a pent up frustrated populace—I am quite sure you observe it. Why was I standing in one of America’s most scenic places—yet still harboring distress? Where was my peace?
This moment raised for me one of life’s most essential questions: “How can we cope with the distress of daily life to achieve lasting tranquility and peace of mind?” It’s become a cliché to say that we are living in extraordinary times. Despite the modern miracles that technology has provided, we are living through times of great stress—personally, nationally and even globally.
How do we cope with our anxiety about the conditions around us, about personal problems, about the society our children will inherit? Most of us worry but don’t know what to do. How do we keep a sense of perspective? There is a way to manage the turbulence that confronts us. There are answers that are effective and encouraging, particularly when we face circumstances that have the potential to paralyze us emotionally: the unexpected loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a failed or failing marriage, feelings of betrayal, health problems, political upheaval, economic uncertainty. These can produce prolonged distress.
Without oversimplifying or minimizing such traumas, we can be assured that there is a way to find peace of mind—a quiet, calm mental state that is not subject to constant anxiety when pressures build. Many look to self-help to provide the solutions. Although the techniques and devices promoted in popular books and tapes on the subject of managing stress and finding peace may provide a measure of relief, none addresses the fundamental deficiency of the human spirit. To solve our deepest problems we must do better than reprogram our subconscious or learn the latest relaxation techniques.
WE MUST SEE THE INVISIBLE. The answers that bring lasting solutions are spiritual in nature and derive from the principles involved in exercising godly faith. But before we can exercise faith in God, we need to know that He exists and is personally interested in us. As individuals, we need to think of Him as our Father. So the first step to having the peace of mind we yearn for is to establish that God cares for us in all circumstances and that He has a plan for our lives, both now and in the future.
But how can we know that God even exists? That’s not a question so hard to believe when your in awe in Sedona—but in the nitty gritty rub of daily life we lose our way. If the apostle Paul were alive today, he might well answer the question of God’s existence as he did in one of his letters more than 1,900 years ago: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, New International Version). According to Paul, we are without excuse if we don’t recognize God’s divine nature and His eternal power in the natural world.
From rugged panoramas to rain forests, the earth fills us with awe. Its seemingly infinite variety is amazing to contemplate and even more difficult to explain. Whales communicate by underwater sound, but how did they learn? Migrating birds fly thousands of miles and unerringly arrive at the same location year after year. How did they develop such precise guidance systems?
The simple belief that God’s existence is evident from what we see in nature has all but disappeared in a world that so boldly proclaims humanity’s accomplishments.
The apostle Paul said that “the living God made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them.” The simple belief that God’s existence is evident from what we see in nature has all but disappeared in a world that so boldly proclaims humanity’s accomplishments. Yet that childlike trust is the starting point for a right relationship with our Father. But even if we know that He exists, how can we be sure He cares? If the creation can teach us something of His existence, perhaps it can teach us something about His concern for us as well.
TRIED BY FIRE. In the shade of the giant sequoias of California, there’s a special kind of beauty. These magnificent trees have a tranquility and a majesty that belong to nature alone. They capture our attention, not only for their size, but also for their longevity. Some have stood for centuries and bear witness to all the disorder of the past 2,000 years or so. For example, the General Grant tree is 267 feet tall and 107 feet around the base. Many years ago, a fire scarred the General Grant, leaving an A-shaped gash in its trunk, but the tree survived and continues to grow. Nearby is an even more startling example of growth despite the adversity of fire. The inside lower half of that tree has been almost completely burned out, yet the top continues to thrive.
Fashioned with loving care, these monuments to God’s power testify to the fact that we can, when “fire” strikes us, do more than survive: we can continue to grow. That understanding begins with the simple belief that our Father has made us with the same care and attention that He gave to the rest of His creation. What is more, He cares for us above everything else He created. Jesus explained this fundamental truth, as recorded in Matthew 6: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? . . . So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. . . . Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (verses 25–30).
As I allowed all my senses to truly take in the beauty of Sedona—eventually I took a few deep intentional breaths—and fully embraced this mindfulness the gift of astounding beauty—slowly opening my clutched fingers—I chose to “let go” and “LET GOD.” I chose to accept His embrace as I took a few deep breaths—standing fully in awe of the beauty of that moment. Seeing the Invisible God through eyes of faith and gratitude—restored a sense of His Peace and Mystical Presence.