Once upon a time in a land far away, (that’s the way all good stories begin), there was a man who was deeply troubled. He was a brilliant man. A man with a wonderful wife, precious children, and good health. The man’s troubled soul resulted not from family turmoil or financial pressure, not from deep, dark-sided sin or an angry crowd in pursuit. The man’s troubled soul reverberated throughout his body because he was unable to find rest, peace in his heart. He had taken vacations throughout the world – reclining on sandy beaches, taking in the beauty of the Swiss Alps, gazing at glossy glaciers, and standing in awe before the majestic animals of Africa. No matter where he traveled, no matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried, the man never arrived at the place of peace, serenity, and rest.

As time rolled on the man became more and more desperate to find peace. He searched and searched for a miracle cure. He contacted a Medium who he heard could put him in touch with the “spirit world” where his restless soul could finally rest secure. No rest was found. He hired a personal trainer who promised to bring harmony to the man ? body, mind, and soul. He woke up with a weary mind, a tired body, and a soul that raced within him like an Olympic athlete. The man’s desperation continued to grow. He checked in to a retreat center which promised mental stability, but they never mentioned serenity for the soul. They taught him how to center his subconscious, release his past, and live for the present. He followed their instructions to the letter, but his soul remained restless. The man confided in a co-worker who told him that he just needed a good woman to help him release his tension so he indulged himself only to find his soul aching within him. Finally, one day the man crossed paths with a preacher who told him that his problem was that the world was evil, despicable, and depraved. If he was ever going to find rest for his searching soul he was going to have to abandon the world and take up the life of an ascetic. He would have to deprive himself of everything worldly, fill his days with contemplation, and work his way to God The man in desperation sold everything he had, quit his job, and moved to the mountains where the air was crisp, the songs of the birds were clear, and the breeze echoed throughout the canyon.

At first he felt a still calmness fall over him, but slowly the calmness was replaced with chaos as his mind was flooded with questions of what he had done, of those he had left, and of the loneliness that lingered. The draining routine of the flatlands with appointments to make, deadlines to meet, and bottom-lines to guard was now replaced with the rigorous routine of meditation, reflection, and contemplation. The restlessness he had experienced before was once again his closest companion. The man had replaced the weariness of work with the rigors of religion, but peace continued to hover somewhere just outside his grasp.

Frustrated with isolation the man began to get out more and to meet the other people who lived on the mountain. He ran into person after person who had left their routines to take up residence on the side of the mountain for the same reasons he had made his home there. They had all grown weary of the routines, the loss of meaning in everyday life, the demands, and the seeming thankless throngs that surrounded them ? so they left. They left to find something more, something else, something new. The man, dangling in desperation by a thread asked, “What have you found?” Dejectedly, one-by-one, each person hung their head and said, “I’m still looking.”
Late one evening, the man made his way to a neighbor’s house and gently knocked on the door. A gentle, white-haired old man with a soft smile etched upon his face opened the door. The man introduced himself as a neighbor and he was invited in. The two began to talk and the same questions which had been asked over and over again were once again laid before the neighbor. The old man smiled and said, “I too came here to get away. I came here to find meaning for my life and peace for my soul. I came here to get away from humanity, the people who seemed to constantly harass me. I never search every mountain stream, I watched every star in the sky, and I avoided every man and woman on the mountain in hopes of finding peace.” The man said, “Well, you must have found it. You speak unlike any of the others I’ve talked to. You hold your head high instead of resting it in your hands.” The old man said, “I did find peace, but it wasn’t anywhere I looked.” The man said, “What do you mean?” The old man said, “I’ve found the peace I’ve always longed for, but it was not in getting away it was in getting in touch. God spoke to my heart through the prophet Isaiah and said, Tom, I will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is set on Me. (Isaiah 26:3) Now go and share my peace with those who are searching for it.’ I still live on the mountain, but everyday I leave this place and go down to the valley below where the maddening crowd dashes about trying find purpose for their lives and rest for their souls. Finding the peace you have been searching for is really quite easy ? get in touch with the God who loves you and allow Him to use you to bind up the lives that have become unraveled in their search for peace.”

I have come to the conclusion that the business man, traveler, ascetic is not the only one among us who is trying to get to the place of peace. I am not so na?ve to believe that if you conducted a Newsweek poll of the American people that a whopping 99% of the people polled would say that they are searching for peace for their weary, restless souls, but I am convinced that is what we are looking for ? even when we don’t know it.
The search for peace, serenity, a quietness of our souls in the chaos of existence causes us to explore all kinds of avenues where we think peace, fulfillment, and contentment might be found.

Solomon, the man whom the Bible says was the wisest man who ever lived, searched for serenity. He tried everything to find peace for his weary troubled soul, meaning for his life, but it wasn’t to be found. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. If sex was the answer to finding serenity for our souls then Solomon would have stood and sang, “It is well with my soul!” He didn’t. Solomon had more money than Carter has pills, but money couldn’t buy him rest for his troubled soul. Solomon had land, but he had no rest. He had fame, but was unfamiliar with serenity. He had religion, but religion could not do the trick. Solomon was so desperate that he sat down and wrote in his journal, which we know as the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities ? everything is vanity.” It was Solomon’s way of saying, “Life has no meaning, no purpose, no peace.” Solomon searched high and low and came up wanting.

Several years ago the popular rock and roll band U2 sang a song called, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Lead singer Bono sang the thoughts of millions of Americans when he sang these words,

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire. This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I’m still running

You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…

How many of us can echo those same words? We’ve searched high and low looking for peace for our wandering souls and it seems that everywhere we search we come up empty.

Kurt Cobain was the lead singer for the still popular group Nirvana. Kurt had money, fame, gold albums, and popularity, but Kurt took a gun and ended his life. Just before he killed himself Kurt sat down and wrote a note to his wife, Courtney Love. In the note he wrote, “There’s a great empty hole in my heart.”

Just a couple of years ago a new band burst onto the scene and became overnight “stars.” The band was Blind Melon and their lead singer, Shannon Hoon, was a troubled young man searching for peace within. When he found out early in 1995 that his girlfriend was going to have their first child, Shannon seemed to change. He said he realized what a huge responsibility being a father would be and that he had to stop acting like a child himself. He was going to give up drugs, the heroin habit that had caused so many in his past so much pain.

On July 11,1995 Shannon’s daughter was born to him and his girlfriend, Lisa Crouse. They named her, Nico Blue Hoon, after his favorite flower. The band released a new album before Nico’s birth called “Soup.” On the album Shannon sang a song dedicated to his soon coming child. The song is ironically called, “New Life,” and in the song Shannon sang, “When I’m looking into the eyes of our own baby, will it bring new life into me?” Maybe Shannon was singing his hopes that his daughter would bring change, the peace he was looking for, but it wasn’t to be. One month and two days after his daughter was born, Blind Melon arrived in New Orleans where they were going to sing that night. At 1:30 PM a sound man climbed into the band’s tour bus to wake Shannon for an afternoon sound check. Shannon never woke up. Tests later revealed that Shannon died from a drug overdose.
The misguided search for peace and serenity in our souls is not limited to suicidal musicians or drug addicts, it also applies to corporate deep pockets, obsessed athletes, harried housewives, stressed out secretaries, and panicky preachers who are searching, endlessly searching for something to fill the void which screams out at them at every turn.

When lasting peace is nowhere to be found we want to escape, to find a place of rest. I know all to well because that is my method of dealing with the lack of peace in my own heart. Just three weeks I was getting ready to go on vacation ? to head to the mountains where there are no people, no phones, no appointments, no deadlines, no disgruntled church members, and no disappointment. I was more ready than I have ever been. When we arrived I was energized. I knew that I had arrived. Tranquillity and quiet would now be mine. It was an incredible experience. I got up early in the morning and studied the Book of Revelation. I prayed. I felt God’s presence in such a powerful way that it was hard for me to leave my quiet time each morning to rejoin my family when they got out of bed.

I learned something during the two weeks while I was in Colorado. I learned the lesson of the pseudo ascetic businessman. The peace and quietness of God does not reside on some mountain range, but rather it is found in the presence of the Lord. You may be thinking, “Well, that’s fine Mike, but where do I find God?” Good question. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 139,
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? {8} If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. {9} If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, {10} even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. {11} If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” {12} even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalms 139:7-12 NIV)
The question is not where I can find God for the Psalmist tells us that we can’t escape God’s presence. The real question is, “If God’s presence is so pervasive, if we can’t escape the merciful gaze of our Master, why does God’s peace seem to evade our restless souls?” Another good question!
There are multiplied millions of Christians in America today. I don’t dispute that fact, but the fact of the matter is that most Christians have rarely if ever experienced the rest for their souls that God promises. I want to share with you today what I have learned about how you and I can come to know God’s peace in a real and lasting way.

The peace of God is a two-fold process. The first part of the process in finding peace for our restless souls is to set our minds on Almighty God. Not in passing, not throwing up a prayer of desperation, not reading God’s Word like Evelyn Wood, not meditating on His majesty only when we have stained glass in view, but to continually set our minds on God. We can have the mindset of the old spiritual, “Woke up this morning with my mind staid on Jesus!” We can wake up with our minds staid on Jesus, work with our minds staid on Jesus, wash the dishes with our minds staid on Jesus, fold the clothes with our minds staid on Jesus, fulfill our commitments with our minds staid on Jesus, and even go to bed with our minds staid on Jesus!”
How can we keep our minds staid on Jesus? It’s not enough to simply say, “Just do it!” you need to help me learn how to rest in the peace of the Savior. Let me challenge you to do something this week. Every morning when you wake up, first thing, before you brush your teeth or eat your breakfast, tell the Father how much you love Him, thank Him for waking you up in your right mind, kiss Him “good morning” with words of gratitude for a brand new day, and ask Him to allow you walk with Him through the day. During the day rid yourself of the things that just take up space and time and fill that space with reminders of the presence of the Lord. Listen to the Bible, godly music, or some spiritual food for thought in your car instead of some talk show. Keep the Lord before you as you go through your day. In the evening, when you go to relax, relax in the arms of the Savior. Read His love letter to you instead of turning on the television. Talk with Him instead of calling a friend just to fill time. Go to bed with a prayer of thanksgiving on your lips. I will promise you that you will diligently give yourself to this discipline for a week you will come back next Sunday having experienced a different reality during the week.

The second aspect of finding the peace of God for our weary souls is found when we carry God’s peace, His quiet calmness, to those whose lives have become unraveled in their search for peace.
Many years ago Amy Grant sang,

I love to sing and I love to pray,
Worship the Lord most every day.
I go to the temple, and I just want to stay
To hide from the hustle of the world and its ways.

And I’d love to live on a mountain top,
Fellowshipping with the Lord.
I’d love to stand on a mountain top,
‘Cause I love to feel my spirit soar….

But I’ve got to come down
From the mountain top
To the people in the valley below;
Or they’ll never know
That they can go
To the mountain of the Lord.

I went to the mountain and at the mountain the Lord spoke to me and enabled me to regain my focus, to pour His passion into my weary soul, and to challenge me to leave the mountain to go to the people below. I want to share with you a great passage of Scripture which I believe can help you and me to keep the fire burning and to experience the peace of God on a daily basis in our lives.

Jesus’ life was frantic and frenzied, but Jesus was never frazzled. There were sick people who needed to feel His touch, there were Pharisees who wanted to silence Him, there were lessons He needed to pass on to those who would continue His ministry after He was gone, but Jesus never buckled. We are mistaken if we think, “Boy, if I had only lived in the time of Jesus when things were much slower and folks had time to just relax, I could have really known peace.” There has never been such a time this side of the Fall my friend.

In Luke’s Gospel we read how on the Sabbath, the day of rest mind you, Jesus was being harassed for gathering grain to eat in a field. The religious folks said, “What do you think you are doing? You aren’t to work on the Sabbath.” Within a week’s time they were back at it again, this time harassing Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath, the day of rest. These two troubling situations which took place on two consecutive Sabbaths do not even cover the maddening demands of the sick, demon possessed, broken hearted, and lonely folks who were constantly pulling at Jesus.
Luke tells us in Luke 6 that

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. (Luke 6:12-19)

Jesus knew the mad dash of life. He knew the demands on His time. He knew the expectations of those surrounding Him. Jesus knew that to experience the peace of God in the midst of a chaotic world, He needed to get alone with God. Jesus knew Isaiah’s words were true when he wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

Jesus spent those quiet times alone with the Father so that He could spend quiet times in the chaos of everyday life. The good news for you and me is that we can know that same quiet rest.

The Psalmist wrote, “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. {8} I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. {9} Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,” (Psalms 16:7-9 NIV)

Even in the midst of the most perilous times we can know the peace of God if we will keep our minds fixed on Him; His unshakable promises to His people, His undying love, His majestic power, His ability to make a way where there is no way. Once again the Psalmist wrote, “I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees. {49} Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. {50} My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalms 119:48-50 NIV)

The hymn writer wrote, “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God!” Near to the heart of God! Near to the heart of God! There is no other place where quiet rest resides. It’s not in power, it’s not in isolation, it’s not in traveling the world, it’s not in unbridles sexual passion, it’s near to the heart of God!

What you will find my friend is that when you draw near to the heart of God and He fills you with His quiet rest, He will turn you around and send you out to bind up the lives of those who are frazzled and coming apart at the seams.

Jesus went up on the mountain, but He came down. He came down to touch your life and mine. He came down to lift us up. He came down to bind up the hearts of the broken hearted. He left the mountain for the messed up lives down below.

Many are here this morning who have been searching for that place of quiet rest. Everybody’s trying to get there my friend. Many are misguided, looking for peace in all the wrong places, but this morning you have heard the Truth and He wants to set you free. Will you leave the chaos of your frazzled life for a new life of rest in Christ? Will you leave your desires to retire to some remote corner of the planet so that you might draw near to the heart of God and allow Him to send you back into the maddening rush with a restful heart? Will you walk into the arms of the Master or will simply continue to walk, searching frantically for peace and rest in this world that does not know the answer to your question?

Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV) Will you allow the Prince of Peace to give you what you’ve been longing for this day?

Everyone’s Trying To Get There!
Isaiah 26:3
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