Phillipians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

"Oh Manna, I Like Peace!
 

Some years ago, my daughter was at MD Anderson after having surgery for a malignant brain tumor.  I was taking care of my two granddaughters, ages 6 and 7.  Ashley, the oldest, had just spoken to her mom (Wendy) on the telephone.  Of course, having had surgery only a day or two before, Wendy sounded groggy and quite different than normal.  Ashley is a particularly sensitive child and had been trying to be brave for her mom and for me.  After hearing her mom’s voice, though, the dam broke and she began to sob.  I held her, we talked awhile and as she was settling down some, when we began reading a little Scripture before it was time to tuck the girls in for the night.  I explained to them that when I read my Bible, I often underline verses that mean a lot to me.  I suggested that since we were reading from Ashley’s Bible, she might want to listen for something that was meaningful to her and underline it.  Before too long, we came across a verse about “peace”. Ashley became very enthused and in her most sincere voice she said, “Let’s underline the one about peace.  Oh Manna, I like peace!”

 

I was amazed and thrilled that, at seven years old, Ashley “got it”.  Today, seven years later, I am still touched by the memory.

 

We all “like peace”, need it, crave it, and absolutely must have it for life to work for us.  It is hard to come by when we have been hurt especially when it is beyond our comprehension as to “why” things have happened the way they have happened.  We can’t gain the kind of peace that we need and crave, unless we take the time to search for it from God’s word and through prayer.   A necessary element to gaining peace is that we ultimately give up trying to unscramble the unanswerable and choose to lay the questions and solutions at His feet.

 

Who wants to be responsible for the impossible anyway?  But somehow we keep picking up the impossible question and trying to figure it out. I am preachin’ to the choir here, because this is a lifetime battle for all of us.   God has created us with choices and that includes the opportunity to carry our own sorrows and continue the painful process of attempting to figure them out or, on some level, “fix” them.

 

It is hard to place the questions in His hands and leave them there sometimes, especially in the early stages of being hurt.  We come back and take them out of His hands again, but He understands and loves us and lets us choose to try to work it all out ourselves.  Because He loves us, He patiently waits for us to bring them back! J   It is very much like a little child who does this with a toy.  I remember my son and daughter doing it.  As a toddler, my son would pick up a tiny car in his little hands or a big ball in his chunky little arms, walk over to me, flash me a thoughtful though tentative smile and drop the toy in my hand or lap.  At first, he would hand it over a little hesitantly.  He wasn’t really sure whether He wanted to let it go.  He would walk a few steps away from me and then hurry back and take it from me.  Sometimes he would repeat the process several times before he finally decided that he didn’t want it any more.  He was no longer concerned with that burden and had more important things on which to focus!

 

Years ago I had been deeply hurt by something I couldn’t come close to understanding.  I was going to the closet to pray because I had two little kids and it was the only place to be alone! I had to do this many times a day to regain my peace so that I could function.  I was becoming frustrated with the process.  I finally said, “God, I can’t live my life in this closet, I need more permanent peace! “  Of course, with some time, I didn’t need to spend as much time running to the closet to get peace about that particular situation.  As hard as that time was, I have drawn on that memory again and again.  With each new challenge, that life lesson is a tremendous reminder to keep my heart open to him and be very careful not become angry or bitter.  As I look to Him for wisdom for the answerable and leave the unanswerable in His hands, He will heal my heart and use every new challenge for my benefit and His Kingdom purposes. 

 

The bonus is…peace!  “Oh, Manna, I  like peace!”  Me too, Ashley….me too!