Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Even though my day to day life is, objectively speaking, void of conflict and disruption, I feel uneasy, unsettled about things. I live in a wonderful house in a VERY comfortable neighborhood, my email alerted me this morning that my paycheck has been automatically deposited into my checking account, I am healthy, I have an amazing wife, my kids are living interesting and good lives, I work in a congregation that is encouraging and appreciative of my efforts. These things, in and of themselves, don’t leave me at peace.
I live with a sense of how much I am leaving (have left) undone. I can’t shake the feeling that the state of our common life is being hijacked by evildoers (you may not agree…I’m just telling you, how it feels to me these days), democracies (both young and old) all across the globe are teetering on collapse (even the UK for crying out loud), the climate is warming and the oceans are rising. That’s just a scratch of the surface of my unsettledness.
Peace is illusive for me.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” These words were spoken by Jesus on the night he was betrayed, about to be arrested, tried, sentenced to death, tortured, and crucified. “Your whole world of purpose and meaning will be, very shortly, entirely pulled out from under you. You will desert me, I will be taken—but I leave you peace…I give you my peace.” In time, his companions would know the truth of these words.
To trust his words, is to entrust myself to a peace that abides, a Presence that stands by, is always there awaiting my acceptance. It’s not resignation, it’s not escapist, it’s not rooted in or threatened by circumstances that surround me, it is not dependent on my achievement of moral perfection…it is not a given. It is a gift, pure grace. The Apostle Paul once called it, “a peace that passes all understanding.” My experience of this peace comes and goes…even as it abides.
Perhaps unsettledness is not the absence of the peace Jesus leaves with us. It’s not what’s left when all that unsettles is resolved. Such a state is illusive. The peace that Jesus leaves us with is a peace that is always standing by in the midst of our actual lives, and awaits our acceptance. Only then will we understand…one day, one prayer at a time.
Prayer: Gracious God, I entrust myself to your peace…the still point, at the very center of my turning, churning world. Amen.