Yesterday in our Sunday service we lit the Advent candle of Peace. Pastor Steve shared about the difficulties faced by Joseph and Mary as they journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a journey that would culminate in the Birth of the Prince of Peace.
We, like Joseph and Mary, are all are on a journey fraught with difficulties. We seek peace as we travel but sometimes it eludes us.
A few weeks back I shared about my own unrest during a summer of great struggle as I was particularly hard pressed with a trial. Paul experienced times of unrest even during times of joyful opportunity: “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there” (2 Cor. 2:12,13).
Perhaps as you approach the joys of this Christmas there is yet turmoil in your heart. You celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace yet feel a great unrest in your spirit.
In my trial last summer I felt as though I had been cast deep into the depths of the ocean. I was in despair. Above me was the safety and security of the boat. I knew that. I could see the boat was still there. It had not left me. The boat was still floating. There was nothing wrong with the boat. But I was deep below it, submerged under the weight of the trial, caught in the current of its flow, the vortex of its eddy, tangled in seaweed. (You get the idea!)
But I knew where Peace was to be found. I knew the answer was in getting to the boat. My efforts were directed at getting to that spot… not another.
Christ “does not change like shifting shadows” wrote James (James 1:14). He is reliable. He brings us Peace… whether or not we currently sense it. The Prince of Peace was with Mary all along even though she could not see Him. He was with them both intimately, deep in Mary’s womb.
He is always with His children.
Neil Anderson reminds the sinking soul to “remember in darkness what you knew to be true when the sun shone bright.” Sometimes the journey is very difficult, the struggle to the boat is hard.
Peter when sinking cried out to the Lord is great and immediate despair, “Lord, save!” The thief on the cross beside Jesus prayed likewise (Luke 23:42). Sometimes the best prayers of all are nothing more than the desperate plea “Help!”
For me, these despairing calls were made several times each day. I would get to the boat, rest in His Peace, then another huge wave would toss me down again! Peace came in His Presence… in snippets… again… and again… and again. It was a struggle, but I thank God I knew Him to Whom I could call. I thank God for that boat!
Sunday’s advent candle of Peace can be lit because this is the gift of Christ, the reason for Christmas. The angels announced “Peace, good will to men.” (Luke 2:14). Jesus reiterated “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.” (John 14:27).
The believer has a place to turn in trials. The boat above is an ark of safety and peace amid the storms.
Pity the soul who sinks with no boat above.