Peace . . . grace and peace

blowing-tree

Have you ever watched a tree get tossed around by the wind?

I have a super tall tree sitting outside my window in “my place.” I’ve been thinking about peace a lot lately.

This morning, it’s pretty windy. I’m watching as the tree’s branches are manipulated in countless directions. It’s even losing needles to the wind.

So, naturally, I thought “what a perfect picture of peace.”

BUT REALLY!

Here’s where I’m headed, and what I have come to believe: Peace is not about what surrounds you, it’s about what GROUNDS you.

The tree can withstand so much force from the wind, but the trunk is so firmly grounded and the roots are so strong, that it is still standing just as tall as it was yesterday.

It can withstand loss and the confusion of being pulled in multiple directions, because it is planted confidently in the ground.

Even, at this moment, birds are finding shelter in this tree that is being tossed around by the wind.

Even in a storm, the tree is so much more than SURVIVING, it is providing refuge for life beyond itself.

I often think of myself as a “progressive” believer in Jesus. Yes, I am fully aware of how pretentious that sounds. What I mean is I try to ask the questions others avoid. I hope to inspire people to seek God in their present circumstance and am confident they will hear from an active and relevant Savior.

I have experienced the feeling of being lost within the church and watching my family fall apart under the weight and I have vowed to utterly destroy the hierarchy of believers based on experience, past or position.

What I struggle with is the valuable understanding that the influence of others wiser and more experienced than me is a desperate need. I will readily admit that I do not know everything and that I am a hot mess. BUT, I have a hard time trusting a leader with my life.

I have had some amazing people that have helped to shape who I am becoming that God, against my discretion, gave a massive and impactful voice in my life. I know that I cannot continue to become without those voices and others that will pop up in my life as God sees fit.

The point: without growth and solid ground in my life, the storm wins.

It is impossible to feel peace when I am not grounded. People chase peace their entire lives, looking for the calm. I think the same thoughts. If we had enough margin in our finances, we would experience peace. If we had the right jobs, we would feel at peace. If we lived in the same house for x number of years, peace. When our kids are older, peace. If Jayne would stop walking in my room every 2 minutes while I’m writing this, PEACE.

The problem with all of this is that I am not the creator of peace. If anything, I am the antithesis. I am chaos and sin and broken promises.

We have to stop searching for peace. We have to stop allowing the storm to distract us from the truth.

At some point, we have to stop living as victims of the storm and revel in the truth that we are still standing – by no power of our own. 

The power of the wind in my life, the circumstances aimed to steal my peace, have rocked me, but NOT DEFEATED ME, because death could not defeat my Savior. 

There are the moments that the tree falls over. There are the times that the wind is strong – too strong, it seems.

Can I wager for a moment, that the God of peace is even in the defeat?

I believe in a God of regeneration. My Creator-Redeemer takes the things that are DEAD and gives them NEW LIFE. God can take our broken mess of a toppled over tree and CREATE with it. What is unfamiliar is almost always terrifying, but who’s to say that the new life that comes after the storm seems to win isn’t FAR beyond what we could have imagined for ourselves. Just because all we have ever known is being a tree, does that mean that is all there is?

There is a verse I read the other day that has stuck with me. I’ve read it before, maybe you have too.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18 NIV)

Isn’t it funny how we can spend our time pondering our own circumstance and our surroundings and forget that there are people all around us, struggling to be at peace.

There are people in my life I would rather not engage with. There are people who have hurt me or who remind me of past hurts in my life that I have no care to revisit.

There are even people I actively engage against.

Wow. I just said that out loud.

Is it possible that my action or inaction could be perceived as someone else’s storm?

What depends on me = my action or inaction.

I MUST COMMIT TO THIS: I will thoughtfully consider my relationships, even those I wish I could avoid. I will allow my Creator-Redeemer God to show me where I am a gust of wind in someone else’s life that could cause them to be distracted from the peace that comes from resting in the power of the solid ground of God.

I cannot be distracted by my surroundings from being a peacemaker. I must allow God to continue to GROUND me in the things that allow true peace in the lives of everyone I encounter. I will be patient as the roots of my understanding spread and deepen.

I will be a refuge to those whose circumstances are even more broken than mine since my God of peace is surely BIG ENOUGH to carry the entire world through the storms of life.

Peace is not about what surrounds me, it’s about what GROUNDS me.

For now, my tree is still standing, and that has nothing to do with me.

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