Peace is valuable commodity these days. With our always-on-the-go lives, we all want peace, strive to find it, would pay for it if we could, but rarely seem to grasp it. Living with a house full of noisy little people and one very musical (read, loud) husband, peace is a rare treat in my world. But even when I manage to slip away for a day or two, I find the simple respite from the hustle and bustle of my daily life isn’t true peace, it’s only quiet.
During a recent vacation, I picked up Andy Farmer’s book Real Peace: What We Long For and Where to Find It, and was blessed when it knocked down many of the straw-men in my life that have been parading themselves as peace. Perhaps you could also stand to question the types of things which bring you fake-peace:
“We have those fleeting experiences when the circumstances around us and our inner state come into an almost mystical alignment and we experience that sense of ‘Ah, so this is what it’s meant to be.’ It could be fifteen minutes when the kids are actually playing nicely and we can sit and catch our breath because nothing needs to be done right now. Or maybe it’s those glorious times at the end of school finals when the pressure is off and the next semester is still a week away. What brings peace to you? There are thousands of little moments in our lives where we taste peace. But they don’t last, do they?”
Peace is hard to find and we seem to look for it in all the wrong places. Farmer, who has served in pastoral ministry for twenty years and serves on the board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, wrote this book hoping readers will find the real source of peace and “learn to love peace like [he’s] learning to love peace. Peace in all its dimensions.”
Who’s it Written For?
Anyone and everyone! The beautiful thing about this book is it isn’t for one particular type of reader. It will reach and minister to seekers and young believers, all the way up to mature believers. This is genuinely a book that can be easily read, digested, and applied by readers in any stage of faith. As I read, I was constantly thinking of friends across the spectrum that I can’t wait to pass this book along to!
What it Is / What it Isn’t
This book isn’t going to give you strategies and formulas. It isn’t going to offer worldly wisdom or coping techniques.
“If real peace is possible, it can’t be something we create. So who determines shalom? Simply put, God does. The idea of shalom is uniquely God-centered. In other words, shalom is not something that can exist on its own in this world. It is a gift from God into human experience.” p. 33
This book will offer readers scripture’s definition of peace; what God says about peace and how to find it. It is going to give you the gospel’s explanation of where peace originated (in the garden) and where it disappeared (the fall) and take you to “God’s Surprising Solution – the unfolding epic of God’s mercy plan for the human race.”
The next five chapters address some common ways peace applies to our daily lives: Peace and Stress, Peace and Anxiety, Peace and Grief, Peace and Depression, and Peace and Conflict.
Each of these chapters conversationally approaches its sensitive subject with grace and wisdom – offering scriptural perspective alongside gentle pastoral counsel. Farmer is conversationally disarming as he confronts sins like fear and doubt, allowing the Holy Spirit to do specific personal and effective convicting off the pages, in the heart of the reader. He is loving in the way he approaches the subject of depression, not shaming or scolding readers who may suffer.
The last two chapters of the book, “Peace and God’s People” and “Peace and My World” take the reader outside of their bubble and ask them to apply the things they’ve learned about peace to the world around them: the church, their friends, family, neighbors, and those who are in need of Christ. The book ends beautifully, with a call to go and taste peace and display it:
“…it is my prayer that you will ‘labor and live’ for the sake of shalom in a troubled world. But we who offer shalom need to taste it and live in the good of it as well. My desire for anyone finishing this book is that you will know the shalom of God in profound and life-shaping ways.”
Does It Deliver?
In ten chapters (176 pages), Andy Farmer has effectively strengthened, informed, encouraged and challenged my faith with his reflections on scriptural peace. This is a book that not only delivers, but that sticks with you. It will most likely become a common go-to reminder book in my personal library.
As Farmer states at the beginning of his book after observing peace demonstrated: “I thought to myself, ‘That’s peace. I need me some of that.’” Don’t we all need some of that?
Real Peace: What We Long For and Where to Find It, Andy Farmer, Published by Crossway May 31, 2013 ISBN 1433535297
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