“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives it. Do not let your heard be troubled, and do not be afraid” John 14:27
January 27, 2014 found me sitting in my white Dodge Caravan sobbing. Just a few miles away, my husband and two of my three children were home with the flu. I was exhausted after five days of changing sheets, making chicken soup, forcing them to take medicine, and sterilizing the house so I wouldn’t get sick.
That day was my birthday, and all I wanted was some mandarin oranges. I waited until everyone was asleep before I hopped in my Caravan and headed to the grocery store. Actually, I was blessed to have something to drive at all. Earlier that month my van had been stolen while I was at work. We got the van back after it was found on the side of the road with the ignition stripped.
I thought about all of this as I drove to the grocery store, got my mandarin oranges, and settled back into the van ready to drive home. And then, “it” happened. My Dodge Caravan refused to start. At first I thought I had done something wrong, so I tried to turn the ignition with the screwdriver again (yes, I said screwdriver because keys no longer worked after our ignition was stripped when it was stolen). Nothing happened. I tried again, and again, banged the steering wheel, yelled and screamed, and tried again and again, and again. Still nothing. And then the sobbing began.
What Is Peace? Life has a way of keeping us busy. We have 101 things on our To Do lists, emails to answer, voicemails to which we must respond, clients to please, children to raise, spouses to appease, and so much more. Somehow we juggle all of our daily responsibilities before our heads hit the pillow…only to start all over again the next day. But how many of us are doing this while living with guilt about something we’ve done, anger over something done to us, anxiety about what will happen in tomorrow’s staff meeting, or fearful of the news we’ll read on our Facebook feed? I’m raising my hand, too. What are we missing? PEACE.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, peace is “a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations”. This sounds great, but it seems that finding and existing in a tranquil space that is free from oppressive thoughts and emotions is improbable and impossible, especially in our current climate of racial strife. And anyone would feel this way if they do not know to whom they should be seeking for that type of peace.
Who’s Your Source? The word “peace” is mentioned hundreds of times throughout the Old and New Testaments, and for a variety of reasons. In Genesis 21:7, peace comes as a result of God’s fulfilled promise; we learn how obedience leads to peace in II Chronicles 14:1-7; and John 14:27 shows us that peace comes with the presence of the Holy Spirit .
When we develop a relationship with God, we meet the many sides of Him, including Jehovah Shalom. This literally means “the Lord is Peace”. This means we have personal contact with God who is peace…literally. So, what does this mean for us?
- God is our source of peace (Romans 15:13). When we are in harmony with God, He becomes our source for our state of tranquility, and freedom from oppressive thoughts and emotions. This means, through God, we don’t have to worry about anything because He handles it all.
- Embracing God’s peace is an act of aggression (1 Peter 3:11). God cannot give His peace to anyone that does not want to embrace it. Why would He if He knew that the peace He wants to pour into you will be met with stony ground? In order to have God’s peace, you must “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11) even when your spirit is anxious, when you’re overwhelmed, when someone betrays you, or when you’re having a bad day. Realigning yourself with God’s peace is an intentional act that results in that state of tranquility.
- God’s peace sustains you regardless of outside circumstances (John 14:27). John 14:27 is one of my favorite scriptures because it is a reminder that God loved us enough not only to give us peace, but to leave us HIS peace. The scripture states: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives it. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid”. Here Christ shares that He is leaving His peace with us, through the Holy Spirit. That peace is not a temporary peace, but an eternal peace that will keep you even in the midst of turmoil at work, problems at home, issues with family, or when your car refuses to start in a grocery store parking lot.
Get your Peace Back: After I stopped sobbing in that parking lot, I took some deep breaths and started to pray. Once I was calm and had embraced God’s peace, He reminded me that I had AAA. I called and the dispatcher told me that a tow truck was less than five minutes from the parking lot. 15 minutes later, the AAA driver pulled up, hoisted my Caravan on the lift, and helped me load my groceries in his truck. After I buckled up, he said, “Lady, don’t worry. I will get you home safely. Rest in God’s peace.”
That’s my prayer for all of you. When the world feels like it’s crashingin, don’t panic. Just pray, breathe, and accept God’s peace.