Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Peace - fruit of the Spirit #3    (5/17/2009 )

There I stood in the supermarket, collecting for charity in a red apron, holding a red balloon and a red collection box as the check-outs went ‘bleep, bleep' and customers rushed around getting food for their evening meal. Then, just for a couple of seconds, there was quiet… and I found myself saying ‘Aaaah, peace!' —but almost as soon as the words were uttered, it all went back to being ‘bleep, bleep'.

The demands on our time, our thoughts and our emotions can feel like the relentless ‘bleep, bleep' of the check-out tills. When the children have been particularly demanding, looking at them finally sleeping does give us an ‘Aaaah, peace!' moment.

When work has been just too much, and we're desperate to sit with our feet up with a cup of coffee; or, conversely, when worry gnaws at us because there isn't enough work… When the strain of caring for elderly parents, teenagers, grandchildren, or our own health issues overwhelms us… we long for that ‘Aaaah, peace!' moment.

Over the past 2 weeks we've been thinking about ‘the fruits of the Spirit', which are listed in Paul's letter to the Galatians [NT]. So having looked at love and joy, we now explore ‘peace'. As the paragraphs above indicate, peace is difficult to find—but it's also difficult to define.

The dictionary describes peace as ‘the absence of conflict or stress', and at one time it was commonly used to mean ‘be still'. The equivalent words in both Hebrew (shalom) and Arabic (salaam) have multiple meanings, conveying prosperity, security, welfare and friendliness.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.' (John chapter 14, verse 27).

But what is different about this peace? The peace Jesus speaks of cannot be found through positive thinking or in the transient feeling gained by relaxing for a moment or two. Peace gained that way can disappear when the ‘bleep, bleep' starts up again. The peace which Jesus gives through the Holy Spirit is there always—but how to describe it? That is the difficulty.

Imagine a child running around, lost, scared, feeling abandoned, and then finding its parent. The two are reunited and the child's fears disappear in a hug, replaced by a deep sense of peace. We are the children of God. The ‘bleep, bleep' of life is just us running around, thinking we can do it all by ourselves, but actually feeling just as that child did.

God is there waiting for us, with his arms open to hug us—to give us, by his Spirit, that sense of love and security that will lead us to the peace that Jesus spoke of.

Pray: Lord, I long for the peace which is the absence of struggle; for the people of our world to be at peace with one another. Most of all, I long for the peace that only you can give. By your Spirit, come and wrap me in your arms and remind me that I am your child, loved before the dawn of time and forever more. Amen.

Think about: This quote from Thomas a Kempis: "First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others."

Challenge: Find 10 minutes every day this week to proactively be totally alone. Even if you have to shut yourself away in a quiet room, try to do it! Then take an ‘Aaaah, peace!' moment to reach out to God.

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