“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
Augustine of Hippo (354–430), in Confessions.
I am naturally restless. The kind of person who actually enjoys having a problem to solve, who savours a challenge and who often drifts off to sleep in mental hustle.
I find it hard to sit still for more than a few minutes. So I knit while I watch TV, I squeeze in that last household task before bedtime (just because it needs to be done), I compulsively make lists and plan…
And mostly I manage my restlessness by dint of sheer determination and grit, but not always. Anxiety often chases me down.
I smiled this week when I read about King David, a biblical character of legendary status whose ‘restlessness’ meant that after years of bitter civil war and when God had finally brought the two Kingdoms of Israel together under David’s rule, David was still looking for a project, this time to build a house for God. Interestingly, God declines his offer. “It’s not needed, not just now. Your son can do this in his lifetime.”
David, who has just survived a tussle with the Almighty over the proper handling of the ‘Ark of God’ (Place of God’s dwelling among the Israelite people), accepts the above advice with no objections raised.
Many thousands of miles from Syria, this week in the UK we view the harrowing pictures from Aleppo and feel the intensity of innocent human suffering. Again we raise our voices in prayer for these people, and others in similar situations across the world. Grant peace please Lord.
But peace is more than the absence of war. The greatest enemy of peace is within us. My ego makes the greatest demand on my own peace, followed closely by my need to do the right thing by others around me, nurture my family, earn a respectable living, live healthily and well, and ‘make a difference in the world’ all at the same time.The resulting dissonance of mind and soul is a battle I wage daily. Indeed it is the rarest of days when I feel I’ve done justly in this fight.
The absence of peace often results in troubled THOUGHTS but I can’t always THINK my way to peace.
Peace begins at the cross of Jesus, one mortal at a time claiming a restored relationship with the God of Heaven through Jesus’ sacrifice.
As children of God, we are offered God’s peace as His gift to us – a peace that “transcends understanding” (our thinking); that is “not as the world gives” (not based on human values); that tells us all will be well (when humanly speaking our lives are messy); that allows us to forgive when others can’t understand why we should, that empowers us to return good for evil, that speaks stillness into our souls, that allows us a glimpse of eternity when hope in this world has gone.
Peace can often be found amidst imperfection, when we haven’t yet reached our goal, when things haven’t worked out as we anticipated. Peace comes when we’ve surrendered ‘ours’ for ‘God’s’.
May you know the Peace of God this Christmas.