Peace can sure seem elusive these days. We are all watching the news and there is so much going on, and we see no mention of peace anywhere in our midst anymore. There is so much strife, division, fear, and even hatred being shared in the world. How do we keep walking in the Promised Land in these times we find ourselves in? It doesn’t “just happen”, but there is a way. While the Bible instructs us to cease striving and know God in Ps 46:10, we ARE commanded to strive for one thing…peace. What does this look like? How do we pursue peace, hold onto it, and actually strive for it?
When we find ourselves in those circumstances with family or friends and we have that difference of opinion, or political views, we can choose to let these differences divide us, creating tension and labeling of each other, judgments flying back and forth, OR we can choose to strive for peace. This looks different in each circumstance but can have features that contain the elements of curiosity, of an open mind that reflects the motives of one’s heart.
Recently I have been in a very difficult season, as some of you know, with the tragic loss of my mother. She “kicked COVID” in her own words, and after entering a rehab center to rebuild her physical strength, she suffered some setbacks and was readmitted and had to undergo emergency surgery due to an intestinal blockage. She was in a small-town hospital and needed more specialized care, and was airlifted to a larger hospital for that reason. After 7 weeks of fighting hard to recover and regain her health, she passed away quickly from septic shock on June 12. During her hospital stay, her beautiful 103-year-old farmhouse burned to the ground on June 1. There was very little that could be saved – with exception of some quick moving firefighters that saw bins of photos and threw them out into the yard. On top of this, there is great discord and no contact with one of my siblings, as well as a special needs sibling that needs constant supervision. There is so much chaos swirling in all these circumstances and many opportunities to further fracture our family. I have been surrendering daily to what God is up to, seeking Him, and asking for direction as I try to lead my family through this horrific season, as well as try to walk in godly grieving for myself. We just celebrated her amazing life on August 13th, her 79th birthday, and it was a wonderful time of sharing the love she has deposited in each one of us over the years. The day after the service, exhausted, over extended, and weary, I had a moment I am not proud of…where I overreacted to a perceived circumstance and got angry, slammed the car door and sped off from my family. This was not striving for peace AT ALL! However, later that day this gave me an opportunity to share with them my heart, my weariness and become a bit more human (messy!!) for them all. It was in the aftermath of this, that I could pursue peace with my siblings that also want peace. I could share with them some depths of myself that I was not able to prior to this explosion of emotion. It took courage, and I had to choose to do so. I took courage from Christ and texted my siblings to ask for an hour of their time while we were still together. It was a beautiful time of connecting and sharing, and an example of God causing all things to work together for good…whew! Even when I royally mess up, He is still Sovereign and at work.
Conflict happens, relationships are hard, and God is good. He is for us; He wants us to have His peace and walk through the conflicts with the result being HIS PEACE as we do so. It isn’t about “winning” or convincing the other person of how “right” you are or “wrong” they are. It is about seeking understanding, acknowledging the pain experienced by either party, and then moving forward into reconciliation with questions like “How do we move forward from this place?” “What do you need from me to feel heard, validated and ultimately known/loved?” These intentional questions are tools to use to strive for peace in our relationships. Eph 4 talks about this early in the chapter. We are implored by Paul to walk in a manner worthy of our calling with humility, gentleness, patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The only thing that we should have between us, and any other person is this bond of peace. If we have something else there, ask the Lord to show you what to do about it. It takes a short time with Him to walk through forgiveness of your own thoughts and actions, choosing to forgive others, and then forgiving of oneself for operating in this space of bitterness and whatever else may have crept in through that opportunity given to the enemy. (Eph 4:27) This word opportunity is a physical, actual place in the Greek. Do not give permission to these squatters (bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, rage, or whatever else) to take up space in your God-given Promised Land!!! Matt 5:23-24 also speaks to the Lord’s priority of peace as the result of reconciliation. And this is the only ministry given to us by the Father – as noted in 2 Cor 5:18. Reconciliation. God’s desire for us is to only have peace in our relationships. Where might He be revealing an area or relationship in your life that needs His sweet peace restored?