Peace isn’t always what you think it is. You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Here’s what I mean.
My husband and I listened to a Tim Keller sermon as we drove through the countryside back toward home. We had dropped our girls off with grandparents and were coming back from a much needed and restful couple days alone. We had talked through many important things and many incredibly UNimportant things. From our near-future decisions to what we think will happen in the first episode of the new season of Walking Dead. We always have apocalyptic discussions if nothing else to talk about.
It was a sermon my husband has listened to every year. Keller talked about making decisions and knowing God’s will. Not in that order. Because the point is that you just make a decision. The part that stuck out to me was the idea of peace. We say that word a lot. I don’t think it means what we think it means. I think it has a different weight to it than we tend to give it. I think that we expect it to look like and do things that it does not actually look like or do.
I think peace in the midst of the storm can still look like you’re in the midst of a storm. But what it does is repeatedly tell you God is God and He is on the throne.
Keller talks about when he decided to plant a church and people were asking him how he felt about it. They asked if he had peace, and he would say, No, I don’t. The point being that we often look for a sense of peace as if that’s the indicator of making a right decision. Or that having peace is like some destination of our thoughts and hearts. I don’t think that’s quite it. I think peace is like a coat you wear. I think it’s like something that just is, because it’s made up of truth and the imperatives. God loves. God provides. God blesses .God takes. It is always God. And we are always relying on Him.
Unless we aren’t. Here’s the thing. We can be at peace AND rage against sin. The consequences of sins against us, sins we have committed – commission or omission, things we shoulda/coulda/woulda. We can be at peace and feel helpless and confused. We can be at peace and have absolutely no idea what to do, what to think, where to go, who to talk to. There is a peace that passes understanding. Think on those words. You know how you think about words and the more you think about them, the less sense they make? We throw that phrase around – peace that passes understanding – but have we really let it sink in. Peace can exist in the midst of chaos.
How? I don’t think the scene where Jesus walking on the water amidst the storm looked incredibly peaceful. I think the scene was something out of a disaster movie. You know that part where the meteor hits the earth and all hell breaks loose. Everyone’s running and screaming and trucks and buses are flying through the air and entire buildings collapse in seconds.
It’s hollywood magic, but this is the scene in my mind when something terrible has happened. The sudden, tragic death of a loved one. Getting laid off from a long held job. A dreaded health diagnosis. The conversation with a spouse that starts with the words “affair” and ends with the word “divorce.” Watching your child drive off into a lifestyle you know is incredibly spiritually, emotionally damaging and a certain dead end. The meteor has hit.
Someone who looks at peace in the midst of this wreckage seems a bit of a moron, doesn’t she? Like what is she smoking and can I have some? I don’t think our goal is to look like we have peace. I think our goal is the peace that passes understanding. The peace that looks like rage. The peace that says this is wrong and sucks and I hate it. The peace that is brutal. Peace doesn’t ignore what’s wrong in our world. Peace doesn’t brush it under the rug. Peace acknowledges. Peace even marks it out clearly. This is what’s happening. And it is horrific.
The twist? Peace says, it’s not right, but it will be. Peace trusts that no matter how dark the space is light will always pierce through the dark. And that Light has come. It is continually shining and nothing will snuff it out. Nothing will overcome it. And the darker it grows around us, the more amazing – truly amazing – the Light will seem. Because how amazing is a candle on a bright sunny day?
We are not overcome. That is peace. We face the enemy – the evil ones, the corrupted, the sinful, and our own hearts. And we rest in the triumph of The One, we know we know we know that He will win the day. My hope is built on nothing less. I repeat that phrase over and over in my worst moments of fear and anxiety. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. That is peace. It looks different every time, but it is a statement, a knowledge, a truth, a foundation. Peace is fierce. It is strong. And I shout it to the dark and the wind and the fire. Jesus is my peace. He himself is our peace, breaking down the wall of hostility. (Eph. 2) Breaking down a wall looks like peace, smashing it to bits. Tearing down a wall is peace.
Give us peace, not just in the storm, but because of the storm. That your grace and mercy will shine all the brighter because we see what’s happening around us. Help our unbelief. We pray for glimpses of your beauty and your work in the darkest of nights. Shine, Jesus, shine…