By Gena Anderson
It was the coolest morning we had seen since spring, the first hint of fall, and the day of my son’s tenth birthday party. The sun was rising, birds were chirping, an excited boy was up and preparing for his day, and I was looking forward to coffee on the patio before it all got started. Walking into the kitchen I saw something on the floor, and quickly realized what it was: the birthday cake. Half-eaten, icing licked off, and completely ruined, there sat the cake I had picked up just twelve hours prior. The perpetrator of this crime walked over, happily wagging her tail and greeting me, unaware of how perturbed I was with her at this particular moment. This was not the peaceful fall morning I wanted.
My son ran in and shrieked, and I quickly reassured, “It’s ok, we will get another cake.” He sighed a little relief, and gave an angry look to the pup. We sent her to her kennel and cleaned up the mess, threw the demolished cake in the trash, and called my husband to stop at the store on his way home for a new cake. Then I took my Bible, laptop, and coffee out to the patio, where the sun had already risen and construction noise from the new neighborhood behind us had begun and I set out to write this blog about peace. How fitting.
Jesus told his disciples that things would be rough in this world, but peace comes from knowing Jesus will return and has overcome this world and all the good, bad, and ugly in it (John 16:33). I am also writing this on September 11, 2021, the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11. There are people mourning a lot more than a lost cake as they remember their family members and friends who went to work on that day and never returned. A nation remembers looking on as two gigantic towers constructed through architectural wonder collapsed before our eyes, human lives contained in them. Spouses recall getting phone calls from flight 93 sending love and farewell as average citizens became heroes and thwarted the efforts of evil. And among all of this remembrance I can’t help but see how, tragically, our nation now seems more divided over politics, vaccines, facemasks, and whatever else we can pick sides on.
A lot of us are pissed off, but we don’t have to stay that way and I don’t want to.
The first step to finding peace is to acknowledge whatever you’re feeling now. Like looking at an amusement park map, take a moment to step back and see where you are and what you are doing there. Once you know where you are you can let God lead you to a better place, if needed.
If you find yourself surrounded by chaos, temptation, frustration, or any other number of negative forces then it’s time to make a change. 1 Peter 3:11 says we are to turn from evil and do good, seeking peace. Just like I took myself out of my kitchen and sought the peaceful solace of Jesus on my patio, you might need to remove yourself for a time, look away from the bad, and seek the God of peace. We feel like the world is crushing us sometimes, but in reality it’s usually our choice to remain under pressure and participate in the conflict, or seek refuge in the presence of God. Whether it’s a morning coffee, a vacation, or a break from social media, seek peace. Make the command of a weekly sabbath as essential as putting gas in your vehicle. Go to the God of peace and ask him to fill you with it.
God’s peace actually guards us, protecting us from being overtaken by attack, once we surrender to God (Pilipians 4:6-7). That means we have to stop fighting back, lashing out, speaking out, and running the race long enough to make sure anything we do is in submission to God. Self-preservation is a human tendency, and it’s not all bad. The problem arises when we put ourselves and our agendas in front of God’s desires. When I spend time with Jesus, there is almost always sin revealed. Surrendering to his ways and turning away from that sin removes the magnetic force that sin creates for chaos and anger, replacing it with a righteous covering that repels attack and protects us. What do you need to surrender in order to receive peaceful protection?
Go in Peace
And once we’ve acknowledged our position, sought the God of peace, and set aside our own agendas, there’s a final step to actually living in peace. We have to actually carry peace with us and pour it out into the world. In Ephesians 6 (v15) the Apostle Paul says our readiness to walk comes from the gospel of peace, meaning we are not ready to go into the world as a representative of Jesus until we have been fueled with peace. There isn’t a lot that turns me from angry to peaceful like prayer, especially praying for someone I’m pissed off at. If you are angry at bureaucratic decisions being made, pray for our leaders, especially the ones you don’t like. Choose to be equipped by peace and not provoked by Satan. And if you feel yourself being emptied of that gospel of peace go back to the source for more.
If we can choose to leave our anger, no matter how justified it seems, and take hold of peace, we will be ready to give and receive something I think is even better. Join me next week for a blog about finding love in a hateful world.