Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Promise of Peace in the middle of life's storms - John 20:26 with a story about Nicholas Ridley facing death with an observation and a prayer.

SCRIPTURE: John 20:26 (NIV)
A week later his disciples were in the house again… Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

In 1555, Nicholas Ridley was burned at the stake because of his witness for Christ. On the night before Ridley's execution, his brother offered to remain with him in the prison chamber to be of assistance and comfort. Nicholas declined the offer and replied that he meant to go to bed and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life. Because he knew the peace of God, he could rest in the strength of the everlasting arms of his Lord to meet his need.

Could we lie down and go to sleep if we were facing certain death the next morning? Cannot run away from that question, now can we. And, while we do not face death at the dawning of a new day, we do face life’s challenges that take away our breath. Some cause us to question our future. Some make us evaluate our priorities. And, many – if we would be honest with ourselves – do bring into question just how much God is truly involved in life … our life … on a daily basis.

“Where was God?” is a question that most pastors get on a rather regular basis. “Where was he when I needed him?” “I prayed and this happened anyway?” “Man, I haven’t seen God active in my life in a long time.” And so they go. Each of us could write our own reflection on the challenges of our journey.

Now, it would be great if we only needed to pick up the phone, dial up God’s heavenly phone number and get an immediate answer with a satisfying solution. Or, would it? What would have happened if we got answers to every problem we ever placed before God? What would have happened if everything that we asked for we would receive? Well, we probably would find something else to complain about first of all. The bigger issue is that our life would be more complicated than it already is.

Evidently this feeling was expressed when I was much younger for out of nowhere my mother produced a little card on which was printed:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain. But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

It was carried in my wallet for years. At one point it was simply taped to a small frame in the office and ended up being handed to someone who needed to be reminded of the reality of God’s promise more often than an old preacher.
To remember just what God has promised with his promise of peace can make all the difference in life.
For the continued promise of peace we pray. We are thankful that Jesus journeys with us and stands close by as we face the challenges of life. It is comforting to know that he is always there. Thank you God for your peace in the midst of the storms.

QUOTE from Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday, page 195:
The church of Jesus Christ began with a group of frightened men in a second-floor room in Jerusalem…. The one betrayed sought his betrayers. What did Jesus say to them? Not, “What a bunch of flops!” Not, “I told you so.” No “Where-were-you-when-I-needed-you?” speeches. But simply one phrase, “Peace be with you.” The very thing they didn’t have was the very thing he offered: peace. 

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