Peace, Be Still
It sure doesn’t feel all that peaceful out there right now. As wars, and rumors of wars, have taken an apparent backseat in the headlines at a macro level, our feelings of peace now feel threatened by a virus on the microscopic level.
I should be driving to LAX right now to board my 7pm flight to Israel to lead a family through an experience through the Holy Land. Unfortunately that trip was canceled two days ago. This picture is overlooking the Israeli border with Syria in the Golan Heights, and the many groups who I’ve traveled with to this spot, we often pray for peace, at a place where often times none can be found. Admittedly, it’s hard to feel at peace when you just don’t feel it. You can’t fake it. It’s hard to manufacture peace within when there is great fear of going without. In this moment we have to remember that true peace does not come from us, but from God. The great story of God and His people is that it was especially in these times they had to turn to Him and He would be found as the Giver of peace. All of the greatest Biblical moments pointed to when God came through, but it was at the time when things looked like they were at their worst.
In Mark 4:35-41, we read the story of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee with the disciples when all of a sudden a great storm comes upon them. The NIV translation says it was a "furious squall." A couple of these disciples were fisherman by trade, and this squall is causing enough hysteria that they yell out, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" Jesus, who was taking a little cat nap, wipes the sleep from His eyes, and rebukes the wind and quiets the waves by saying, "Peace! Be still!"
These words used to address the storm are two verbs. The word translated as peace here doesn't actually correlate to the word usually translated as "peace" that means "harmony." Jesus only uses this word in two places. The second word is also uncommon, used elsewhere only as a command to demons. It puts into perspective what it is that we are truly up against, and the power of God to defeat.
"Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." Mark 4:39
I've been telling this story of peace for years, and it is still one of my favorites.
There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why?
'Because' explained the King, 'peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.'
Personally, I’m learning how to simply sit and wait on the Lord for deliverance, not my own plotting. And that is going to be hard, I'm a good plotter. So the call is wait on Him, look to Him, and trust in Him today. He was the one who reminded us that in this world we would have trials and tribulations and that He has already overcome them. And, all of your normal problems and trials will still be there waiting for you, when the Coronavirus has taken a backseat again. In this season, when you have fear, whether it is from a virus or the shaking of your portfolio, find your peace in Him. After all, it looks like we are all going to have a bit more time on our (freshly washed) hands.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3