I was probably 13 years old. I heard them talking, and something about the way she spoke caught my attention. So I continued eavesdropping as she and my mom worked on dinner in the kitchen of her home in Duluth, MN. I didn’t know her well, she had no idea I was listening, and I’m sure as the conversation moved on to other topics, they quickly forgot what was said.
But I didn’t. I can’t tell you all that was said that day, but it planted an idea in my heart that I have pursued throughout my life. As I listened in on that conversation, I heard her talking about peace, and it made my young heart hungry. Before that day, I had always thought of peace as something you stumble across. When the weather is perfect and your heart is unbothered. When circumstances align and everything is magically “right” – you feel peace.
But she talked about it as something you could plan for. An atmosphere you could set boundaries for and pursue. The boldness of that concept fascinated me. To not be subject to the ups and downs of happenstance – to be able to choose my way into a peaceful existence was mind blowing to my young 13 year old heart… and I desperately wanted that.
Fast forward more years than I will put in writing … here I sit with a world spinning in chaos. An amazing husband and 3 kids later, and her words still ring in my ears. A peaceful home is a concept we have built our marriage and family on – foundational in so many decisions we make along the way. Yet the reality can so often feel elusive and many days it can feel like a fairy tale. That happily ever after promise that never comes true.
Kids bicker, frustrations flare, and selfishness takes over. Maybe I’ll feel peace when I get my way. Maybe if my husband would just agree with me all the time and the kids play happily and quietly in the corner. Maybe when I finally get all my projects done and can rest happily in a clean and organized home with perfectly manicured flowerbeds outside. Maybe when the world settles down and we get answers to so many questions plaguing us right now. Maybe when we get clarity on the big decisions that seem impossible to make in present circumstances. Why does the Bible talk about peace so consistently when everything around us screams the opposite?
This morning I woke in the first days of a new month. A new month blaring questions without answers and uncertainty about so many constants in my life. And I read these words – some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples, as their worlds were about to be turned upside down: “MY PEACE I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. LET NOT your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27
Not as the world gives? Is this where I get so off track? Despite what I know, what I tell myself and others, why do I continue to look for peace from outside circumstances? This is all backwards. So today I make my confession and prayer.
I have tried to manufacture peace with control. I have interpreted peace as “everyone getting along with each other”. I have been frustrated when reality doesn’t match my expectations and have let it erode the peace in my own spirit. So you will understand when I read this and get spun a bit sideways.
“the fruit of the Spirit is peace…” Galatians 5:22
Fruit … fruit is a product, not an effect. You don’t start with the apple, you start with the tree. You prune, you water, you care for it if you want the best fruit. Isaiah says, “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.“(Isaiah 32:16) Fruit of righteousness? What does that even mean? That big word that sounds so alien at times. It simply means being in a right place before a holy and perfect God. Walking straight when the path feels so crooked.
And since we can’t pull it off on our own – we surrender ourselves. And let Jesus who truly did live perfectly carry our mistakes and be our righteousness – our “right-ness”. Is it enough? Can this be real? That His right-ness, can cover me and I get to experience the peace – the fruit of what only He could do? Come, get to know Him if you don’t. Really know Him – you will find Him more real than the most tangible thing you can touch.
Talk to Him and let Him carry it all for you. Let His right-ness bring you peace! And the rest of this promise – it sounds like it was written for today. I think it was…
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places… though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be…” (Is 32:19-20)
How many of us feel like our “normal” has been leveled? Do we feel blessed in the midst of all the unknowns? This disruption in our lives shows us where our true treasure lies, where we plant our hopes and find our peace. I find myself coming up short some days – still defaulting to myself and the fleeting quicksand of the blaring news cycles and circumstances surrounding me and not the true Source. I want to dig my toes into the firm foundation of our true Source of Peace.
They call you the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Come on in…