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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Finding Peace in Strange Places

Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

 

As I progress through my earthly journey, I find a particular word and concept becoming more precious to me. Peace is such a beautiful word, and when it is a reality it is to be carefully cherished and guarded. Peace, whether it is spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial or any other way you choose to define it, is the cry of multitudes of people.

Many of us have our own pre-conceived ideas of what peace is, and we labor valiantly to make it a reality in our world. We feel that we have to have a certain set of ideals, which if met, will create a temporal peace which will satisfy this longing. It could be, that by doing so, we are basically putting God and His plan for our life in a box and missing the peace He is currently offering us.

Just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) (NKJV)

Our Lord knew that in a very short time these disciples would feel discouraged, disillusioned, and defeated. He was well aware that their world was about to be turned upside down and yet He promised that His peace would be with them. To some of Christ’s followers, peace was the overthrow of the Roman oppressors with some of them in key government positions and Jesus always around to provide a miracle if the need arose. They were about to learn that peace was not necessarily an idyllic existence, but rather a relying on the character and goodness of God to oversee their lives in unpleasant circumstances. I believe that same lesson applies to many people today.

The story is told of an art gallery that sponsored a contest years ago. A substantial financial prize was offered to whoever would paint a picture that best portrayed the concept of peace.

On the day of the judging the gallery was packed with curious spectators. By popular acclaim one particular picture was expected to take first place. The painting portrayed a little boy romping with his dog in a grassy meadow. The sun was shining, the little boy was smiling, and the dog looked content. To the minds of those gathered at the exhibit it was no contest, this surely had to win first place.

To everyone’s shock and consternation, however, the judges placed the coveted blue ribbon on what appeared to be a dark and foreboding painting. The artist had pictured on the canvas a rocky little island in the midst of a vast body of water. Dark storm clouds hovered above the craggy mass of land.  Lightning streaked the ominous darkness and violent waves beat upon the jutting rocks. It was a scene of desolation and despair.

Curious and even a bit put out, the crowd began to shout questions and comments to the judges. “How could you possibly award first place to a picture like this? Have you lost your minds? This is not peace, this is chaos!”

It was then that one of the judges walked over to the canvas and pointed to a small opening in the rocks that the crowd had overlooked. The artist had painted inside that small opening, the figure of a mother bird with her wings outstretched over her little brood of babies. In the midst of the storm, they were safe and content. The judge announced with a smile, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is peace!”

Friends, in a world that seemingly has gone mad, in circumstances that make no sense to us, the promise of Jesus to His disciples extends to all who know Him as Savior today. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.”

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