Peace…an elusive blessing.

I began this several weeks ago, then went away on holiday and after catching up with work have only now returned to it. So when I say “this evening”, I am referring to an event of 3 or 4 weeks ago. I ask for your indulgence.

I was walking down my road this evening just after sunset, enjoying some quiet time with Jesus. I live 15 minutes from the nearest small town, and ¾ of an hour from the nearest city. Our home is at the end of a no-exit road. At this time of day (or night) the only sound to disturb the peace is the oddpossum or dog barking, and the sound of my shoes scraping the asphalt. I don’t do this often enough…escaping the television and spending time alone. I used to do this frequently, sometimes every night, but had gotten out of the habit…tonight would be a good opportunity I thought to begin to  re-establish what in the past had been a great blessing to me.

However, I did have my cell-phone with me, and yes, soon enough an explosion of raucous music shattered my peaceful time away from the house, and brought me back to earth with a resounding thump.

Peace these days is hard to come by. Many can’t live without their cell phones at hand, and couldn’t even contemplate living anywhere more than 10 seconds from a fast food outlet or a nightclub. But me, I love living away from the busy towns and cities where noise and busy-ness are constant companions. I consider myself to be very blessed indeed to be able to do what I did this evening. In this instance I took the phone to keep in touch with family who were away from home for a few days. The text told me all was well.

This knowledge brought to me a different kind of peace. A state of mind devoid of any worry over the safety of a loved ones. Visiting with family 300 kilometres away always has the potential for disaster. From traffic accidents to vehicle breakdowns to family tiffs there are any number of causes for stress and concern. But I was encouraged to hear all was well, and the stresses and concerns disappeared. Nevertheless, to the peace of the countryside was added the peace of mind regarding my loved ones. My walk in fact became a greater blessing to me than I thought it would be when I stepped out.

Added to this was the peace I felt being in the presence of my Saviour. The Bible tells us that the unrepentant sinner is in fact at enmity with God.

Ro 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

To be an enemy of God is a state of existence I once actually enjoyed to a degree, howbeit in ignorance. “There is no peace “saith the Lord “ to the wicked.” I am so grateful that 36 years ago I gave my life to Him and turned away from my formerly selfish lifestyle.

Being at peace with God has to be the most sublime peace there is. Greater than peace between nations, more intimate than peace between husband and wife, the peace one may have with His Maker is deep, abiding, able to sustain any and all influences from outside, it is a peace of heart and mind that transcends and overcomes adversity and all the vexing issues that perplex far greater minds than I.

Society in general has a peace problem. That problem is that there isn’t any peace, of any sort, for many many people. War between nations, tribes, races, classes, religions, sects, political parties, corporations, families and individuals, even marriages, have brought a devastating toll to mankind, for many thousands of years. War in fact is the major contributing factor to all the problems that face mankind. And it started in heaven. Lucifer, an angel equipped with all the mod-cons needful for contented living, somehow found himself discontented. He wanted more. And like the Apostle James said in his letter in the NT, (See James 4:1-4) it is lust for power and greed for things that don’t belong to you that instigate wars and fighting. It is lust and greed in other words that destroy peace. Covetousness therefore (see the 10th commandment Exodus 20:17) is our nemesis for peace of mind, peace between ourselves, and peace in our communities. So the first war started in heaven, (Revelation 12:7) and when Lucifer, now Satan, was cast down to the earth, he continued his war against God by attacking God’s people. (Revelation 12:17). How much suffering is caused by lust and greed, desiring those things which are not ours to have. The neighbour’s wife; the boss’s wealth; the workmate’s car; the friend’s reputation; the brother’s blessing (just look at the history between Israel and the children of Ishmael for an example of prolonged enmity on that point of contention);all examples of frequent catalysts for  discontent, jealousy, lust and envy leading to fighting, feuds, estrangement, and war.  How much more peace would there be if we were willing to be content with what we had? How much peace has been forfeited through our own discontentment? All the above are weapons Satan uses to engender broken relationships between ourselves and with God. God is a God of peace. The scriptures are awash with promises of peace to those who seek Him.

For the Christian who is dedicated to serving His God and to keeping all His commandments, he cannot expect total peace however. Inner peace yes, for he is at peace with his Maker, but as long as he is in this world, he cannot expect to live in total peace. Yet Jesus in the sermon on the mount instructs His disciples to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and God inspired many of the Apostolic writers to speak often of the need to seek for and to strive to live at peace, at least as in it is in our power to do so. This is not an easy call. When abused, maligned, persecuted, Jesus calls upon His followers to turn the other cheek, to not return evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good. To love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. In other words, we are to offer peace to those who are even in the process of destroying it.

God desires that we be at peace.. At peace with Him, at peace with one another, and at peace with ourselves. Walking down a country road at night may be quiet and peaceful as far as noise and distractions are concerned, but without peace of mind our internal musings can disturb us with greater impact than a passing train. And whether we live in Beirut or a sleepy little country town in rural NZ, war or the absence thereof matters little if our consciences are troubling us, or we are suffering from depression or any number of mental or spiritual disorders that can be totally debilitating to those who are thereby afflicted. Of course there are any number of fears and worries that stress our minds and vex our lives. Empty kitchen cupboards; a growing pile of rejected job applications; phone calls from their teachers or school counsellors and/or constant visits from local law enforcement officers threatening alternative accommodation for your wayward children; neighbours at war; ‘final reminders’ from debt collection agencies;  all these and more are daily reminders of a life on this planet that is far too complicated and unnecessarily encumbered with strife and perplexity. Complete peace is a promise however, and the next life which is promised us in the scriptures as we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ will be a life utterly devoid of anything that even remotely smacks of friction. In this life, we can attain to certain levels of peace depending on our circumstances, but one thing will ever remain sure.  Peace with God is paramount.

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