Posted tagged ‘inner peace’

Life In The Shadow of Death

March 7, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 7, 2020

                                 

The long lines at Costco hit the evening news. Shoppers were stocking up on a year’s supply of bottled water, hand wipes, and facial tissues. When an illness is still shrouded in mystery, history has told us over and over again that people rush toward any possible remedy or, at least, look to take any precaution possible. 

At Starbucks this morning I could not use my own reusable cup. For the immediate future, they are serving coffee in their disposable paper cups, and when you want a refill they give you a new cup. 

The shadow of death that looms over our lives right now is scary…and revealing. There is the fear of death that rings true for many of us, but, more than that, the uncertainty of death is what scares most of us. 

Not to trivialize the coronavirus concern in any way, but I can’t help but compare these tensions in the uncertainty with an amusement park ride at Cedar Point in northern Ohio called “Top Thrill Dragster”. Several years ago my kids convinced me that I needed to ride it with them. I wasn’t sure, but they dragged me to the ride. When we finally reached the front of the line, two of the ride workers were hosing out the front car…a bad sign! However, it was the uncertainty of what I was about to experience that caused me to shudder. That racing into the unknown is what is causing us to be wary of large crowds, wash our hands more, and be more observant.

The shadow of death has that effect. 

As a follower of Jesus, I also go forward with the assurance of Psalm 23 echoing in my mind. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff they comfort me!”

Back in first-century Rome when the plague went through the city, the sick were discarded from their homes, left to live and die on the streets and in the shadows in their final moments of life. It was the followers of Jesus who embraced the diseased and cared for them in their final hours, often willingly becoming infected themselves. 

They loved Jesus, and it was the love of Christ that brought their compassion out for others. Understandably they did not have the knowledge about diseases and spreadable viruses that we have today, but there was peace within them as they stood in death’s path. In the midst of the virus concerns, the evening news also showed scenes from Tennessee’s recent tornadoes…and the long lines of people coming to volunteer in any way they can!

Whatever these next few days may bring us— more long lines at Costco but short lines at movie theaters, cancellations of commitments and even reduced attendance at Sunday worship— may we always be reminded of the Holy Presence that walks with us in the shadows!

Having An Unclear Peace

April 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    April 18, 2016

                                 

Peace is a highly valued condition seldom understood and, most of the time, awkwardly explained. It is searched for like the Holy Grail, elusive to find and fleeting when experienced. It gets treated like a chemical formula…two parts this and one part that…but it’s not confined or easily defined.

Sometimes peace is experienced in the knowing, finding out a diagnosis and having a sense of peace about it. Sometimes peace takes a long time in the arriving. I remember standing beside the hospital bed of a young mother who had just lost her unborn baby. It took a long time for her and her husband to have peace about the loss. They grieved a long journey and asked a lot of questions that mostly began with the word “why?”

But sometimes peace comes in the lack of clarity. It’s the sensing that things are going to be okay no matter the outcome. It is the best kind of peace, because it is not dependent on what someone says or does, how circumstances play out, achievement or rejection. It’s walking into the fog that often descends along the banks of the Ohio River without reservations.

Peace gets linked up with happiness like they are twin sisters, but happiness is more like a distant cousin who shows up at weddings and reunions.

Recently I experienced a sense of peace in a time of uncertainty. There was a decision that was to be made by a committee that affected me. I knew that the decision was out of my control, and, remarkable as it sounds, I had peace about it regardless of the outcome. The disappointment in the news was minimal, as would have been the excitement in a decision that was positive.

Those moments of unclear peace are few and far between. Perhaps it is because I’m getting older…and older…but I view those times as ways that God redirects us. We’re prone to struggle against the wind instead of going with it. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to be cheesecake and champagne (or since I’m Baptist, Baptist champagne…otherwise known as 7-Up!), but experiencing peace is never discovered when we keep a death-like control grip of our life direction. It’s letting God chair the meeting, but knowing that he will always involve you in the dialogue.

I’ve experienced what the Bible says about peace. It surpasses all understanding. That’s comforting, knowing that today is also “Tax Day”, and the IRS got another kind of “piece” from me!

That Illusive Feeling of Peace

October 10, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       October 13, 2014

                                    

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25 and 27)

 

Let’s be honest! Peace is something we long for, but find it hard to grasp. Currently there are many areas of unrest in our lives. In case your list is short, here’s a few to add to it:  ISIS, ebola, mall shootings, school shootings, burn scars, cholesterol levels, cancer, gas prices, stocks falling, collapsed pension plans, processed food, college tuition, aching knees, overdrawn bank accounts, hacking Target and Home Depot, pit bulls, gun right advocates and opponents, Republicans and Democrats, Obamacare and lack of health care, meth addicts robbing homes…

As you know, I could go on and on and on, but I’m sure there were a few things on that list that resonated with you.

Worry is like water! After yesterday’s three inches of rain there’s plenty of it for everyone!

But what about peace! Is it on sabbatical? Have we ticked off God so much that he’s taken back his peace and gone home?

Aren’t followers of Jesus suppose to be peace-filled? Isn’t there suppose to be a sense of tranquility in our spiritual lives?

Let me answer that with a “That would be nice!” and “Sometimes yes!”

There’s an inner peace and and outer sense of peace. The inner peace is a promise of God. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That inner peace develops as we take a breath of prayer…as we trust that He will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s believing more in the presence of God and the power of God than the destruction and depression of Life.

The outer sense of peace comes and goes like the winning streaks of the Colorado Rockies…most of the time, too few and far between! Life can be good and then the news comes on. We talk about peaceful moments, but they are suddenly plummeted by torrential rains.

The fickleness of our outer peace raises our worries like the yeast in baking bread. Sometimes our worries cause us to forget that we DO have the promise of inner peace.

Jesus asks, “Why worry?” And we respond, “Because it’s one thing we’re really good at!”

We will even worry if there suddenly isn’t anything to worry about!

We are followers of the one who was known as “The Prince of Peace.” If we could just follow him as closely as my shadow seems to follow me!