“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Agains such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
This is March and we are on a journey to September going by the way of the Fruits of the Spirit. We have traveled through love and joy. We soon realized love was the foundation for all we are taught. We add to our foundation just like we were building a home. We added joy and this month we are adding peace. It will be interesting to see where God leads us this month.
Peace as described by the dictionary is freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. That is something we all long for today isn’t it? Seems like there are an awful lot of disturbances when we watch the news and as far as quiet and tranquility…well,don’t watch the news. You are not going to get tranquility on the news. It used to be you could get in your car and take a drive and have some peace and quiet. Not any more I am afraid. You see we can have the evening news with us as we drive down the road, we can listen to our music or books as we drive and there there are phone calls that can be made from a car now. There is little peace or tranquility as we drive anywhere. I can remember a time (yes I am that old) when taking a drive on a Sunday afternoon included conversation or game playing with the family. Now the kids have their games on a device, or listening devices stuck in their ears and little conversation is taken place.
I was on a women’s retreat this weekend and the topic was water. We talked about water a lot this weekend. As I began my weekend and thinking about water it took me back several years earlier. It was a beach in Florida at the Ocean. I can go back there now if I just close my eyes and think about what I experienced that one week in Florida. I would get up early each morning and I would go before too many people crowded the beach and I would sit on a bench and just watch the ocean. It was peaceful. I feel tranquility at that space in time.
As I reflected even further back I remember another women’s retreat I took in Indiana. This time we were at at camp and of course there was a lake. In the afternoon we broke from class to go find “our place.” We were to find a place where we could just sit and have a conversation with God, just the two of us. You know where I ended up? Under a tree next to the lake. I can go there to that place also if I try hard enough.
Both of these places included bodies of water for me. My mind began to be flooded with other memories of bodies of water that meant something special to me. As a youth I went to church camp and the best time of the day for me was in the morning sitting by the lake with all the other campers having morning devotions watching the sun cone up.
For me the peace came every time I would find myself next to a body of water. One of my favorite books was by John Ortberg, “If you Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.” Water and peace seems to go together for me. Unfortunately, I don’t live close to a body of water so I can’t escape and find that kind of peace.
I wondered how did this all start? How did the two become so significant for me? I can’t answer that question. I am not sure what brought all of this on. One of my favorite peaceful stories that included water was when I was a young adult. I can’t tell you how old I was, but I was past my teen years and I hadn’t met my husband yet. It occurred on a Sunday afternoon at a man made lake. I attended a Methodist church at the time.We all know Methodists are not in the habit of dunking or immersion. As my relationship with God grew so did the urgency to be baptized fully; I am talking about immersed. This has been several years ago and it wasn’t uncommon for Methodists to dunk people. I went to my Pastor who was a father figure to me and I shared my desire to be baptized, “just like Jesus.” He agreed. There were others that had expressed an interest in what I was wanting to do. So we gathered at the lake and on a wonderful Sunday afternoon I was baptized. I had to laugh when I saw the scene from the movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” where several people are being baptized. It wasn’t quite like that, but it did bring back some wonderful memories.
If I had to define peace these are the times that come to my mind. When I need peace I go off by myself and close my eyes and picture one of these scenes. I can slowly feel peace return.
Going to these places and reliving these experiences are not what brings me peace. What brings me peace is communion with God. In each one of these experiences it wasn’t the place that brought me peace, it was the communion I had with God. It was the being off and alone with God that brought me peace. I know if I want to experience peace I don’t need to go to a body of water instead I just need time alone with God.
So if I know what brings me peace then whey do I lose that peace? Just like joy the world steals my peace. I allow the world to come in and take my peace from me by the many distractions the world has to offer. It can be TV, my phone, a busy schedule or many other things that I allow to come in and take my time away from God. Soon I realize I am not at peace with myself or the world. We all know several times in the Bible it talks about Christ getting away to pray and to commune with God. If Christ needed time alone with God what makes us think we are so much better that we don’t need time with him?
I mentioned earlier I was at a Women’s Retreat. We sang some amazing sons. Can you guess one of the songs we sung this weekend? “I’ve Got Peace Like a River was one of the songs we sang. You can only guess where my mind went. Peace like a river…it included water again. I have peace like a river in my soul…God is amazing isn’t he?
Reflect back for just a few minutes. Get out your journal. Where do you go in your mind that brings you peace? Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, sitting in a quiet room with a candle burning, or maybe it’s in the mountains. Find that place that brings you peace. In your journal describe your place. Be specific. What do you smell, or see, or hear? How are you feeling? Is God there with you? Do you see Christ walking and talking with you? The next time you need to be alone with God get out your journal and read what you wrote and find some tranquility.
I want to leave you with Christ’s words, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and no not be afraid. John 14:27
Dear God, thank you for giving us peace. We know your peace is so different from the peace that comes from the world. We know your kind of peace the world doesn’t understand. We know the world does not want us to have this peace that comes from you. We know the world will do whatever it can to keep us from finding this peace. Be with us as we seek to spend time alone with you. Draw us to our place wherever that may be. Let us commune with you and walk away find the peace we longed for. Amen