By Doug Dezotell
Musings and Memories
There was a painting on display in a gallery the artist entitled “Peace.”
It showed a raging waterfall, cascading over some rocky cliffs. The sky above the rocks was dark and stormy. At first glance the painting appeared to be anything but peaceful.
But then, as you looked closer, there was an old tree growing through the rocky cliff and there behind the waterfall, under the overhanging rocks, a branch of that tree held a bird’s nest, and there in the nest sat a bird.
There surrounded by the chaos of the waterfall and the storm overhead, a bird sat at Peace on its eggs in the nest.
So often in this life we encounter various troubles, temptations, health problems, family turmoil and upheaval, and yet God wants us to experience peace in the midst of it all.
So often I have prayed for Peace, and then I waited and waited. Maybe I was wanting a wave of peace to overcome me, or something that I could feel from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. But, I was focusing on Peace and not on the Peace Giver.
I was focusing on the fleshly feeling of peace and not on the Prince of Peace Himself.
Only when we focus on Jesus and get our eyes and minds off of the storm and chaos surrounding us, only then we can find that Peace that only He can give.
In the historical record of the New Testament we can read about the troubles and the fears that a group of disciples felt as they sat together in hiding.
Their Leader had just been put to death by the Roman occupiers. And they were afraid they might be next; that they might be arrested, and just like their Leader, put to death.
Those men and women were gathered together in a room behind locked and bolted doors, when suddenly their Leader showed up.
Jesus the Messiah, the Savior showed up and stood right there in front of them. He who was dead, dead and buried, was suddenly there with them.
Luke 24:36-39 tells us what happened next: “…Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb, 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.”
There He was, their resurrected Teacher, Leader, and Friend, standing in the room with them. And He asked them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
That seems like a silly question. I mean… just think of their situation.
Those disciples watched as their Leader was arrested right in front of them.
They watched Him being dragged off, and He wouldn’t even allow them to defend Him or protect Him.
They watched as He was beaten, and then humiliated publicly.
And they watched Him die at the hands of His Roman executioners.
Then they watched as their Leader’s dead body was removed from the cross He was nailed to by some friends who respectfully and carefully laid in a nearby tomb.
Those disciples of Jesus, were mourning together, sitting in fear in some room, hidden away from their enemies.
Then several of the women of their group came knocking at the door, and when they were allowed in they said they had gone to the tomb and their Leader’s body was gone.
They thought someone had stolen His body out of the tomb.
They were all feeling as if everything they had come to believe and had worked for in the last three years was destroyed.
Their world was falling apart, and every one of them feared for their life.
And then their dead Rabbi, their dead Teacher, their Leader shows up.
How does He greet them? He says, “Shalom!” or “Peace to you!”
And then the Leader asks, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
It’s a rhetorical question, and of course He knows the answer. He knows why they are all scared to death. He knows that they think He’s a ghost.
So He wants to prove to them that He’s not a ghost, that He’s really there.
Their Leader shows them His wounds, and then He eats in front of them to prove that He is alive. And He asks them, “Why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
We may say that we believe in God. We may say we believe in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
And yet we so often worry. And we’re afraid. And doubts arise in our hearts.
We say that the Bible is true, and that it’s a Lamp to our feet, a Light to our pathway.
But not once does the Bible say, “worry about it,” or “stress over it.” But, over and over again, the Bible clearly says, Trust God!
I want to share some Bible verses with you.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in Perfect Peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
I believe that other people and circumstances cannot overwhelm us unless we let them. Don’t let them. Don’t let them divert your attention from God and His Word.
Jesus says in John 14:1: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” And then in John 14:27, He says, “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.”
Do you remember what Jesus said when He walked into that locked room? He said, “Peace to you!” And then He asked, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” He was telling them to stop worrying and stop being afraid because He was there with them.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Paul wrote these closing words in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “ Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you Peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
The Peace that Jesus gives us is not the absence of trouble, but it’s rather the confidence that He is there with us always, in every situation.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The Bible says that God will keep us in Perfect Peace, when our minds are stayed on Him, because we Trust in Him.
Doug Dezotell is the Pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, and he is a columnist for the Bedford County Post. You can find him on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. in the pulpit of Cannon UMC, 1001 S. Cannon Blvd. in Shelbyville. You can contact Doug anytime at email@example.com or at 931-607-5191.