Sometimes these blogs come in a flurry… then not so much 🙂 Talking of Peace… here’s one of the daily readings in my collection of readings (Bread ‘n Wine) that I’m compiling for who knows when….
I suppose all of us secretly dream of life as perpetual paradise. No worries or stress, zero responsibilities; just the chance to relax in never-ending sunshine on some beach where the turquoise ocean rolls lazily over white sand.
I remember taking a team to support a building project in Honduras. After our work we visited Roatan, one of the Bay Islands. The beaches were the fantasies of postcards stretching for miles lined with coconut palms; long green fronds bending and spiked against a clear blue sky. “Why are these beautiful beaches so empty?” I inquired. “Well, if you lie near the coconut trees you never know when a coconut may drop on your head, and the beach is full of sand fleas,” was the answer I was given.
It seems so typical of our lives on earth, where every Eden mirage has a hidden liability or hazard – invisible from a distance. May as well learn how to embrace our present and find peace and joy where we live right now – amidst falling coconuts and other bugs – because they are everywhere.
I’m inspired by how Jesus lived on earth. His context was riddled with donkey loads of inconvenience, unfairness, exploitation, and uncertainty. Human life was cheap; often at the mercy of the Roman occupying army and the whims of those who ruled. Human rights were a joke, religion was peddled on every street corner, and newborn babies could be killed if the regional autocrat was paranoid about rumors of a newborn king.
This was the guy who said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, what you will eat, drink, or wear.” “Peace I give to you, not as the world gives.” Jesus did not merely give advice to others – he lived what he advocated. He walked the talk without a victim mentality or a grandiose sense of martyrdom. Nowhere is that more evident than in the events leading up to his crucifixion. It was the easiest outcome in the world for him to avoid by merely compromising or offering the religious leaders some token of respectful subservience for public consumption.
I imagine if I was in Jesus’ situation, I might hear God calling me to another land as a missionary. Perhaps I could delay what seemed inevitable by advocating for the disciples to have more equipping and training. They were so raw and often teetering on the edge of packing up and returning home. My rational mind could find more reasons than the tassels on my prayer shawl to avoid sipping the cup in Gethsemane, escaping the ripping lashings, and keeping my hands out of sight rather than nailed to a cross.
Unlike me and Peter, when the rooster crowed, Jesus never flinched, doubted, or turned to run. Long before the pressure climaxed, he’d settled the matter of who he trusted when darkness loomed, and all strength drained in blood on the ground beneath his nailed paralyzed feet. There was peace to be experienced amidst circumstances that sent every friend scurrying for cover. A more magnificent picture was being painted than anyone on earth could ever understand.
God Almighty underscored the fact that he was on a mission of love and forgiveness that would shake the foundations of the world with the resurrection of his Son. The journey between womb and tomb was perilous, hostile at times, riddled with injustice and easy escape routes. I’m so proud of Jesus – grateful, and indebted.
Peace is an inside job, flowing from the heart outward… because of God’s love revealed through Jesus. If we wait until humans have cobbled together an agreement and conditions for peace, before too long we’re picking up pieces. And around and around we go again.
Consider: Where are you delaying your abiding in peace until a circumstance changes, a goal is achieved, or a relationship is mended? Why not consider leaving those elements in God’s hand and receiving his peace now? That does not mean those things are unimportant. They’re merely inadequate as sources of lasting peace.
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.