It was earlier this week, as we sat around the breakfast table, gathered around “Fruit Spins”, milk, and the advent wreath. Last week we’d talked about “Hope”, and it was easy to talk to the girls about what we each were hoping for. The poignant moment coming when it came to our 4 year old daughter, and she was hoping for “God”. I asked her to clarify….”What do you hope God will do?”
She smiled and said proudly, “Whatever God wants to do!” Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the faith of a child.
So I was waiting this week, for what new nugget of wisdom my own kids were going to throw back at me as we moved into a week focusing on “Peace”. But “peace” is a bit more complicated than “hope”. So daddy decided to talk a little about why we need peace. I asked the girls what they’re afraid of, and what makes them worry. I received many of the expected responses: monsters (no, not really, daddy), being sick, scary dreams, and “sometimes when I walk down the stairs and it’s dark in the middle of the night, I think maybe there are some animals coming down behind me who want to eat me.”
Definitely scary, and worth worrying about. So we talked about peace, and then daddy decided to get down on their level, and talk about what makes daddy anxious/worried. That’s when it hit me like a sack of bricks. I covered it well, but I felt emotion in those moments that I don’t usually give word/time for. The honest truth is this:
I worry about my family. My wife. My kids. Every time I’m away from them, there’s that back of the mind “thing”. I can’t wait to hold them again. To be near them. To know that they’re alright. But even in the most peace-filled moments, I’m reminded by the world I’ve lived in so far – there’s no guarantee. Even when Super-Dad is with them, my children, my wife, and my home are never 100% protected to the point where I have no reason to worry. There’s always the chance of something unexpected happening.
I remember hearing the phrase growing up, “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I would smile the silly smile of a young teen who’s confident this verse means no matter what happens in life we’re supposed to smile…to prove we’ve got some sort of “inner peace” that doesn’t make sense to the world. But twice that age now, and having experienced quite a few situations where a smile is not the appropriate response – I’m thankful for the context to verse 7.
“Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace OF GOD that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe IN CHRIST JESUS.” Philippians 4:5-7 (emphasis added)
It’s not about me coming up with the ability to have peace in the midst of life circumstances. It’s not about me never having a concern. It’s centered on approaching every concern I have in the context of God, who can handle the big picture. In the context of Christ being more than capable of keeping our hearts and minds safe. I’m not to have peace because I have peace. I’m to have peace because God has peace.
Not in a way that denies horrible things happen. Because they certainly have, and do, and will. Nor do we deny these horrible things will shake us to our core sometimes. We will experience pain, and offense, and brokenness. But the promise of peace still comes to us, in the presence of Jesus Christ. The child born in a manger, in whom God proclaims to all of creation, us included, “I am with you.”
And in that….we receive God’s peace which transcends our understanding/abilities.