Many of our cards over Christmas spoke of ‘Peace’, and quite rightly so because we were celebrating the coming of Jesus the ‘Prince of Peace’ Isaiah 9:6. We genuinely wanted to bless our friends and family, Christian and non Christian, with ‘Peace’. The problem is that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came into a very troubled world and for many of us those good wishes for ‘Peace’ come likewise into troublesome life circumstances.
Nobody can fully predict what 2022 will bring, but I think many would say that it could be ‘stormy’. Stormy economically and politically; stormy because of the ongoing pandemic, stormy because of the immense cultural shifts that are taking place in our society, and stormy spiritually as the struggle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness intensifies. And that is before we mention any personal ‘storms’ that we might be facing, in our personal lives, relationally, in our health and well being, or in our churches.
Jesus came to earth and walked through life at a politically and socially turbulent time. He also faced much opposition personally and spiritually, and yet He walked with peace and dignity, in complete harmony with His Heavenly Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe, however much of a stretch it may seem to be, that God’s plan in bringing us into His Kingdom is that we can also, by His grace, walk with His peace through all the trials and ups and downs of life.
The interesting thing about the storms recorded for us in the bible, is how often God uses them to achieve His purposes. For example Jonah eventually got to do God’s will (however reluctantly) Jonah 3:3; Paul got to prophesy safety to his shipmates and had great opportunities to demonstrate the power of God in Malta. Acts 27:33-28:10. Jesus demonstrated His power over the elements, Luke 8:22-25, and Peter got to have a big adventure and a great lesson in faith. Matthew 14:28-31.
The fact is God’s presence trumps any storm, whether it is a storm of our own making, a hurricane sent by the enemy, world events, or something that God has set up Himself. Jesus was clear with His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John16:33. And “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. So how do we travel through life, or through a turbulent season of life, with peace in our hearts? How do we prevent ourselves from being troubled or afraid, when the wind and the waves are rocking our boat. Clearly the answer lies in knowing that the Prince of Peace is with us in the storm, and not just watching us from afar.
We wrote some weeks ago about the eagle and its ability to catch the thermals and soar above any turbulence or storm. We quoted Isaiah 40:31 where, we are told, that ‘those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.’ We spoke then of renewal and refreshment, but today I want to revisit that verse, because I believe it can also help us as we endeavour to walk in peace, through all the various storms of life, like our wonderful King Jesus.
The phrase ‘wait upon the Lord’ is not, as we have said before an inactive verb. It is not like waiting in for a parcel to be delivered, or waiting for a bus or train. Waiting upon the Lord, as Brian Simmons (of The Passion Translation )has shared with us, carries the sense of being ‘entwined’ with the Lord. David writes, ‘no King is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength……. we wait in hope for (or we entwine our hearts with) the Lord; He is our help and deliverer.’ Psalm 33:16,20
Waiting on the Lord implies great intimacy. We entwine our hearts with God’s heart and His wrap around presence surrounds us. It is not dissimilar to the invitation from Jesus to the weary and heavy laden to find rest for their souls by coming close and having His yoke around their neck. Matthew 11:28. The wind and the waves were not a problem for God, but when Peter looked and saw that the winds were boisterous he got fearful and began to sink. The lovely thing about that story was that Jesus was right there, put out His hand and drew Peter close, and back into the boat. Matthew 14:28-33.
Having our hearts ‘entwined’ with Jesus is like being in the ‘eye’ of a storm, where it’s peaceful and still, and I believe we can always start that process of ‘waiting upon Him’ or ‘entwining our heart’ with His by giving Him thanks for His presence. Giving thanks will always turn our eyes from the wind and the waves that we are facing onto Jesus, and when we know that He is that close, we find, like Peter, that our peace returns.