By Didi Bacon

The birth of our first child was an ordeal. Shannon and I were young, and we did not have health insurance. We were thankful for the birthing clinic at Bethesda Oak Hospital that provided low cost obstetric services. The clinic was used for training young doctors. Shannon had a long labor, as is often the case for your first born. The interns decided that they were going to perform a C-section. It was a decision that we were not comfortable with, but it was a critical time, and something had to be done. I remember being in the surgery room and they were getting Shannon prepped for surgery. We and many others were praying hard. Then, God answered my prayer. The head doctor in charge of the training program popped his head into the room. The tension in the air was lifted with his presence. He asked a couple of questions of his students and said, “Let’s get in some good pushing nurses and let them do their work”. Shannon labored, and Valerie was born. I will never forget that doctor. I will never forget that moment. That doctor stepped in the room and I felt a peace. He was a non-anxious presence.

Last year, I read a book with a captivating title. A Non-Anxious Presence – How a changing and complex world will create a remnant of renewed Christian leaders by Mark Sayers. It was one of those books that I could not put down. Sayers’ observes that we live in a chaotic world. A world that is complex and overwhelming. It is a world where anxiety is rampant. It is a world in constant crisis. The history of God’s people tells us that God does big things through crisis. Crisis always precedes renewal. These days are the days of opportunity for renewal for the church. A renewal led by those in the church who live in the presence of God. In a world of anxiety, Jesus followers have the capacity to be a non-anxious presence. The Bible’s word for that is peace. The source of peace is the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This was Jesus’ promise to his troubled disciples:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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 14:25-27 (NIV)

Paul, in his letter to the Christians of Colossae, said that peace needed to be the rule of life:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

How can the peace of Christ be the rule of our lives and our relationships? The simple answer is by living by the power of the Holy Spirit. The peace of Christ comes from Christ. The Holy Spirit in our lives is Christ in us.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NIV)

This is what John Groberg was getting at when he said:

“Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms his child.” John H. Groberg, The Other Side of Heaven

When I think of a person who was a non-anxious presence I think about Daniel of the Old Testament. Daniel was taken as a young man by the Babylonians into exile and was forced to work for the Imperial government. He was a bright and talented young man. He was a man of deep faith in God. Daniel rose in prominence and position in Babylon as a trusted advisor to the Emperor Nebuchadnezzar. When a new Emperor called Belshazzar came to power, it appears that Daniel lost his close access to the King. He was forgotten. But then a crisis hit.

Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his nobles. For the banquet, they drank wine from the goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem, which were kept in the storehouse of goods taken during the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar. That is when a hand appeared and wrote on the wall a message that no one understood. Everyone, including the king, was scared to death! He summoned his magicians and wisemen to translate the writing. None of them could do it. And that is when the queen remembered Daniel.This is how Daniel was described by Belshazzar:

“I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.” Daniel 5:14 (NIV)

Daniel was a non-anxious presence in an anxious world. He was able to speak on behalf of God because they recognized that the “spirit of the gods is in you…” 

Do you know that if you are a Christ follower you are given the Holy Spirit? That means you have the same Spirit that Daniel had. You have access to the same “insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom” that comes from God. It means that you can be a non-anxious presence to a world crying out for peace. If you look to Daniel’s story as an example, you will see a formula on how to live by the power of the Spirit.

  1. Daniel completely trusted God – he lived by faith.
  2. Daniel intentionally pursued the presence of God. Daniel prayed three times a day. He was devoted to learning and living out scripture.
  3. Daniel routinely obeyed God’s directives for life. Daniel refused to compromise on his commitments to God, even if it meant death.
  4. Daniel participated in a small group of faithful followers. Daniel did not walk alone. He walked with a group of fellow faithful Jews who encouraged him and practiced faith with him.

Daniel was able to be an agent of peace. He was able to be a non-anxious presence. You can be an agent of peace, too; your world needs it.