Peace at the pump
What would it take for you to have peace in your life?
The common definition of peace is a time of quiet and stillness; a place without interruptions where we can relax. Peace then is an external matter - the environment we find ourselves in. What then might Paul mean when he writes “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in all situations.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Clearly the Lord of peace can dish out the goods no matter what is going on for us. This might sound like one of those ‘mystical’ sayings the Bible is famous for:,easily said yet rarely experienced.
But what if it’s not? What if we can experience Christ’s peace in all situations? Perhaps what it takes is allowing Christ to redefine what this peace is like. Let me offer an example.
Throughout my working life, the Christmas season has always be extremely busy. Indeed, as a public relations consultant, my clients invariably had a crisis on 24 December keeping me busy while my colleagues cranked up Snoopy’s Christmas on the office stereo. Today as a pastor, I am still working late on Christmas Eve when most others have finished for the year.
In the past, I have been tempted to be bitter and feel hard-done-by that I have to work while others play. Today it’s a relatively easy temptation to resist, because I have realised something important: I am lucky to have responsibilities and be useful.
Expectations and responsibilities can be heavy burdens, yet it’s a privilege to have the strength to bear them, and in bearing them be of value to my community. When I was a child, I was too young and inexperienced to carry such privilege, though I yearned for it, and mimicked my father who I saw carrying his tasks with dignity. There will come a day when I will not have the strength to continue, and I will need to let go, and let others take up community responsibilities. Until that day, the Lord of peace invites me to embrace my place in life, with the responsibilities he judges me worthy and capable of carrying. And when my holiday comes, I will relax on the beach satisfied I played my part.
I think we can read the story of Christmas in a similar way. It’s a story of people God calls to shoulder their part in bearing the Son of Man safely into the world, despite toil, discomfort, disappointment and even threat of death.
Perhaps peace does not need to be the absence of responsibilities, stress, hard work, or facing difficult decisions. Perhaps peace comes to those who embrace the life God has given them, doing the best they can according to their calling in life, and trusting God with the rest.