Ist2_3171215_peace_dove_flying You may remember WAY back last year that we were discussing that familiar verse in Isaiah that we hear every year at Christmas that speaks to us of the character of our coming, came, and coming back again Saviour.  For “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  I took some time to explore the first three and had every intention of spending some time exploring the last one.  In fact, I have to say that the last one is probably my favorite. Prince of Peace is probably the characteristic of Jesus that has been the most personally meaningful to me throughout the years that I have attempted to walk this path.  Peace within my spirit is probably the “payoff,” if you will, that keeps me coming back for more when the journey gets hard.

So, here it is almost a month past Christmas and I am just now getting around to writing this last post on my “Christmas” themed series.  What happened?  Frankly, a distinct lack of peace in my life.  A tutorial on what does NOT bring peace….just for the benefit of you, my dear readers.  God, or more likely my own stubborn ego, decided that I would be much better suited to write about this topic AFTER I was reminded about some things I have learned over the years about peace, or the lack there of.  I am exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect (what, me?) but it has been a bit of a rocky start to 2008 from the standpoint of peace and tranquility.  Some of that has been external, some internal.

First of all, the blasted health concerns have continued.  The ongoing battle with the migraines have recently been complicated by a sinus infection that won’t go away.  Being that both of these issues take place from my neck up, it has been somewhat complicated from a medication standpoint…and my head just basically hurts all the time.  To make the adventure more, ummm….adventurous….my doctor decided to switch my migraine prevention medication to one that has a daunting list of possible side effects.  Even though I know better, I am goulishly drawn to the Internet to read the lists of all the things I might expect to go wrong, even though I can already recite them from memory.  Worrying about my health and not feeling well AND not turning my worries over to God had brought about a deficit of peace in my life.

Secondly, I recently got distracted from the things that are mine to do and that also brought about a decline of peace in my life for a period of time.  I believe that God calls us to certain ministries, priorities, tasks, roles in our lives.  All of us only have a certain number of hours in our days and, whether we like to admit it or not, we all have limited emotional, physical, and spiritual resources.  When we spread ourselves too thin and get pulled emotionally into business that isn’t ours, we are ineffective in the places that God has called us to do His work.  Several years ago, I made some clear choices about the ministries for which God had called me and gifted me within our church, our community and our family and I had set what I believed were some really healthy boundaries to protect those.  Through God’s grace in teaching me that lesson, I had achieved some considerable peace based on those boundaries.  Recently, I found myself getting pulled into some difficult emotional issues that weren’t my business and worries that weren’t mine to carry.  I spent several weeks trying to fix things that weren’t mine to fix.  In the 12 step program, one of the definitions of insanity is working harder on the problem than the person with the problem.  For me, it was a reminder of how important it is to be in contact every day with God about how He wants me to be using my time and energy.  And a reminder of what a mess I get in when I go off and operate on my own without Him.  When He is in charge, I have peace.  When I am in charge, I don’t have peace.  Keep it simple, stupid.

So, here is our Christmas lesson, boys and girls.  The PRINCE part of Prince of Peace is really important.  Peace is only found when we bend our knees to His authority.  I have to remember to let Him be God.  It is only when He is in charge, only when we allow Him to be the Prince of our life, that we find that peace that we so desparately seek.  He wants to help us make each decision, He wants to help us set boundaries, He wants to comfort our worries and hold our hands when our head hurts.  He wants to help us choose which battles to fight with Him by our side and remind us which battles belong to someone else altogether.  And, although following Him down that path is sometimes frightening, there is great solace in knowing that He is in front of us leading the charge.

The peace we are talking about here comes and goes, but is so powerful…so precious, that once we have experienced it, we have no choice but to seek it the rest of our lives.  Here are the lyrics to a wonderful Sara Groves song called This Peace that talks about it:

So many words to say
but I’m opting for silence
so many days to live
think I’m sitting this one out
something I’ve been chasing
finally stopped to let me catch it
something I’ve been longing for and dreaming about

its a whisper in my ear
its a shiver up my spine
its the gratitude I feel for all thats right
its a mystery appeal thats been granted me tonight
this peace

something so elusive
something close but far away
its the home that I can’t live in yet
somewhere in outerspace
sometimes I barely miss it
when I walk into the room
and curtains are still swaying
and I feel the air move

and it whispers in my ear
and it shivers up my spine
its the gratitude I feel
for all thats right
its a mystery appeal
thats been granted me tonight
this peace

no time to grab the camera
no time to write it down
its time enough to breathe it in
and linger

its a whispers in my ear
its a shiver up my spine
its the gratitude I feel
for all thats right
its a mystery appeal
thats been granted me tonight
this peace

Lastly, let me say that, for today, I am obviously talking about how Jesus impacts our personal peace.  Probably much more importantly, I also believe that within the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us all we need to know to bring about true Peace on Earth….but that is for another blog entry….