SCRIPTURE: John 14:27 (NIV)
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
STORY as told by Berit Kjos:
Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.
The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.
As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.
A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.
The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?
A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.
A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.
This is one of my favorite stories and it has caused me on numerous times of personal devotion to ask the question … do I have the trust of that little bird to build a nest in such a precarious surroundings? Do any of us?
There continues to be much chattering about peace … a lot of noise, but little substance. Are we safer? Are we more secure today? And the emails continue to arrive addressing one fear after another … or playing to our fears.
And I question why? Why are people in our country or in any country so fearful of others … of their faith … of their lifestyle … of their ethics and morals … of their purpose … of their … well, you get the point.
Someone much wiser than me has stated: “We fear what we do not know nor understand.” To which I would add: We fear when we do not have a strong foundation of faith and trust.
As I shared in a recent sermon I don’t need my church to survive, I don’t need my denomination to survive, I don’t even need for my country to survive … for my foundation is found in the Kingdom of God. Therein lies the ultimate peace. Now, do I love my church? Yes! Do I love my denomination? Yes! Do I love my country? Yes! … but our ultimate trust is in the King of Kings … He and he alone offers us the peace that we cannot find in the world.
The people of the Bible and since those times kept placing their hopes in their political alliances and in their military might … and where did that get them … where has it gotten us? None of that “stuff” will bring us peace (“not as the world gives do I, Jesus, give to you”).
How long will we have to suffer before we discover that our peace … real peace … is found in Jesus and he alone? How long? No matter how threatening and precarious our situation we have to learn the lesson of that little bird.
We are a stubborn lot aren’t we Lord. We hold on to earthly offerings of peace and they continue to disappoint us. So we continue to elect different leaders who continue to do what every other leader has done and peace continues to escape us. Quiet our fears by leading us to accept your peace … your lasting peace … your never ending peace.