How do you know if your soul has peace?
An elderly woman lies in her hospital bed, the sun sets, the lights go dim, she becomes restless and unsettled. Her son and daughter sit at her bedside, saying their goodbyes for the evening, reassuring her that they will come and see her the next day.
She stops them. Don’t go, she pleads.
They sit back down awkwardly, wondering at this request. She tells them she’s afraid. What happens if I fall asleep and I don’t wake up? She asks.
Ill-prepared to answer her, they gave some vague, calm reassurance and left, the unsettled soul to face her own fears.
In rural Africa, there was an older couple, the husband became sick over a few days, suddenly turned critically ill one night. On that same day, the wife became plagued with a loss of vision, she couldn’t drive and they were unable to evacuate for medical help.
As he recounted this story, he shared of their evening together, praying, worshiping, discussing his last wishes. He knew, as he lay his head down to sleep, he may not wake up the next morning, but, trusting his life in the hands of his Savior, he fell asleep in humble surrender.
What an example of perfect peace.
I’ve had fears in my life. Fears for my children and their safety, as we lived in rural Africa, or the season after my daughter’s bone marrow transplant, living in isolation, praying she wouldn’t “catch” anything bad with her weakened immune system. Fears in my mothering and my marriage, that I’m not good enough, that I’m not ‘measuring up’.
These fears creep in, increasing the temp of our heartbeat and causing thoughts to race through our mind.
The middle of a pandemic also causes fears to rise, as children go back to school, resume activities and masks become the new normal. There are fears because of so many uncertainties, as we are inundated with lots of information and new requirements. We wish that it wasn’t this way, we resist our new reality.
Peace is like a river
“For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream” Isaiah 66:12
As the old hymn goes, “when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well, with my soul.”
A river is a body of water, channeled by it’s surroundings. The river curves and flows along with the landscape it finds itself in, across prairies, down the mountains, until it reaches it’s destination.
When ice jams, or fallen trees block the river’s path, it diverts, and the water finds itself flowing confidently in unknown (and unwanted) territory.
The river flows confidently because it follows the path of gravity: Obstacles may block it’s way, erosion changes it’s path, and the landscape guides it’s direction. Water won’t stop moving, it always keep going, even when it’s slow.
How is this true for us?
The Gospel reminds us that Christ is the Prince of Peace. He was destined to come to earth, to live a perfect life, to suffer betrayal, hatred and physical pain, in order that we would be reconciled to God.
When we love and follow Christ, that perfect peace flows steady like a river into our souls, because peace is our position in Him, it is our state of being.
In the same way, the peace of God is meant to confidently flow in our lives. When we face obstacles, the path may be redirected, or circumstances cause our way to bend, we remember that perfect peace is flowing like a river along with us on our journey.
So, is your soul at peace?
*photo taken by Amber Thiessen at Plum Coulee, Manitoba