When I was still quite young I began to see that God had given me certain spiritual gifts.
And while faith and spirituality were strange things to many of my friends, for me, God was becoming very real.
Along with my growing faith there was this peace that God was showing me that was filling my soul.
In life when you follow Jesus you experience this wonderful peace.
This very peace that God was revealing to me was great but God was doing something else… God was calling me to help others to experience this peace as well so that they too can find peace in God.
This peace was not a good feeling kind of peace, at least not all the time, but it was a constant peace.
It was a peace that I knew would go with me all of my life if I continued to follow Jesus and not to turn back and go my own way.
I knew I had to continue to follow hard after Jesus even through the struggles and pains of life.
In life we do experience ups and downs.
We experience loss and disappointment and miss opportunities and even from time to time we may want to abandon our faith.
Sometimes we feel God’s peace and sometimes we don’t but the truth remains that God’s peace continues to be upon us whether we feel it or not.
Take this example, many of us enjoy following a sports team.
But no matter how good our team is our team will eventually face a loss or many losses if we follow a losing team.
In many ways sports are a great metaphor for life.
In life we face ups and downs.
Sometimes we are winning at life and sometimes we are losing.
Sometimes I feel that my life is going very well and sometimes I feel like my life is not going so well.
I think that is why sports often speak so much to us because playing sports or watching a team win and lose is a great metaphor for our lives.
Maybe this is a different way of looking at sports but I think sports can teach us about life.
And if this analogy does not work for you another example can be that of health.
Sometimes we feel really well and sometimes we don’t feel so well.
If anyone ever says to you that they can give you perfect health this just isn’t true.
No vitamin, or supplement, or book, or program can provide perfect health.
Perfect health doesn’t exist.
We try to manage our lives in such a way as to have good health but we all have off days and we all get sick from time to time.
The truth is that our bodies and our souls can be strong but they can also be weak.
I have seen it in my own life with my own health.
While God has blessed me with good health right now I know that my health can be gone once again in the blink of an eye.
Again our health can be a metaphor for life.
Ups and downs that is part of the journey of life.
Jesus knows this.
So he says to those he loves, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Jesus also gives his disciples a promise.
The Holy Spirit, the advocate, the comforter, will be with them.
The Holy Spirit will be with Jesus’ followers through the ups and the downs, through the suffering they will encounter, through it all the Spirit will be with them.
And Jesus also reassures his disciples of one more thing.
His peace will be upon them.
This peace will give his disciples strength and courage and this peace will be with them throughout their lives.
This peace will help them to keep going and to continue believing in Jesus no matter what end will come their way.
Now here is an important point that I don’t want you to miss.
Jesus says that whosoever loves him will keep his Word.
The gift of peace from the Lord is only possible when we are obedient to God’s will.
God’s peace, blessings, and favor are present to us as we hear God’s Word and then keep God’s Word.
Of greater value than peace is obedience to God’s will.
Hear these words from Jesus:
“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.”
In the Bible the word peace can take on a lot of different meanings from personal and communal peace to peace of mind to spiritual peace to peace in our hearts to a peace that fills us with joy.
Peace can also refer to security and to the absence of war and conflict. In the Bible there is also a close connection with the word blessing and the word peace.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom.
The word shalom refers to those who live an abundant and full life.
I think about my grandmother here who lived to be 93 and who raised fourteen kids.
Whenever she had a free minute, which did not happen much with fourteen kids, she would find her way into her quite room and then she would read books on theology.
She was a faithful Catholic but she didn’t mind when my mother started dating a Lutheran seminarian because it gave her time to discuss the ideas of the giant theologians like Paul Tillich and Karl Barth and Wolfhart Pannenberg with another person.
I always thought that my grandmother would have been a great Catholic theologian if she didn’t also have fourteen kids!
Clearly, in her life I saw the peace of the Lord upon my grandmother even through the many ups and downs that she experienced in her life including losing a child in a drowning accident.
Her faith sustained her and gave her peace through it all.
Peace is what Jesus leaves with us.
He knew we would need peace.
He knew that life would get difficult for us.
He knew that living a life of faith would not be easy and that we would need his peace in order to make it.
This coming week look for ways to show the peace of the Lord to others.
If you find yourself in a confrontation of any kind with anyone, be it a family member or even a stranger, before reacting ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say motivated by my need to be right or by my desire to show peace.”
Ask yourself am I able to maintain a non-anxious presence even in this moment.
Often God gives to us the peace that we need both for ourselves and for others at just the right moment and at the just the right time that we need it most.
Make it a daily practice to give and to receive peace.
The Lord is only too willing to give to us his peace if we will but obey him and follow him faithfully.
May the peace of God and the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
May your mind be set on the Spirit who is the giver of all life and may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing in the risen Lord.