The Lord give you peace. Numbers 6:26
When my mother wanted me to leave her alone she would always say "Go in peace, but go." Even as a child I instinctively realized that such was not a particularly holy wish but the exclamation of an exhausted parent who just 'had had it'. Still, the added 'go in peace' made the 'or else' implication less frightful and much more serene.
Peace is in short supply these days. Today is Veterans Day and we give thanks to our veterans for securing the very basics of peace for us and our nation. Thank you, veterans, for your service!
Yet, looking around in our nation today, November 11th, 2020, we are very, very, very hard pressed to say that we are a nation at peace. There is often not even any real peace in individual households, is there? But as if that were not troubling enough, last week’s election has stirred the pot of un-peace to the boiling point.
So, just what is this peace we expect to have or get? There is a story of an artist who was asked to paint a picture that would visualize the idea of peace. The artist painted a roaring waterfall with a large tree hanging over it. On a limb of that tree, bending over the churning waters and almost touched by the rising spray, a sparrow calmly sat on her nest. Amid the roar and danger of the waterfall, the tiny bird was at peace. Like that little sparrow we too can and often are surrounded by danger and troubles.
Peace does not come naturally, it is not something we can will into being and we cannot talk anybody into it. The command to 'Be peaceful' is about as helpful as the demand to solve world hunger - sure, anything else?! Peace finally is a gift. It is that serenity, comfort and hope that tells us that we belong to a God who cares and who can protect, support and make new even those things that seem beyond repair - from relationships to flood damaged homes to addictions and the dark abyss of a depression.
The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7
Occasionally we hear people talk about having “inner peace,” and we can get the impression that inner peace is a personality trait that, by nature, some people who are calm have more than others.
Other times, inner peace is described as something people can develop by following a pattern of relaxing meditation techniques. But the kind of peace Paul describes is very different. It is not something only a few people can experience; it is a gift that everyone can receive. And when Paul says this peace “transcends all understanding,” he indicates that it is not something we can produce by our own efforts – my point above.
Paul is describing the peace that comes from God and that guards troubled hearts. The word translated as “guard” here is a strong military term. It refers to the close supervision a Roman soldier would have over someone entrusted to his care. In fact, in Paul’s day prisoners were often chained to the Roman guards assigned to watch over them. The picture in this verse is compelling. Our prayers connect us directly to God. The best inner peace is the kind that God alone can provide.
If your heart needs that peace, ask God to give it to you and expect to receive it. One peaceful heart at a time, sweet Jesus, one peaceful heart at a time….may it fill this nation with the peace that passes our understanding. Amen