Saying yes to peace is easier said than done. Let me offer a personal example.
Sunday morning, November 1, just after the completion of the monthly men’s breakfast at the Tabernacle United Methodist Church one of the men came to my study (I’m the pastor of the church) with a woman who was asking for help with gasoline in order to return to her home in western Georgia. Since the church has a voucher agreement with a nearby convenience store I went into the adjacent office to get the necessary form. With an open door between the two offices I felt at ease leaving the woman in my study. It took about one minute to walk back through that open door, obtain the necessary information, and escort the woman back to the parking lot where her fellow traveler was waiting in the car.
About ten minutes later my wife came into my study, looked on the small table that sits between two chairs on the other side of my desk, and asked, “Where’s my tablet? Andy, where’s my tablet?”
By the end of the question the second time the pitch in her voice had raised considerably. We both looked around only to come to the sinking conclusion that the woman who had come asking for assistance had stolen the tablet, probably concealing it under the coat she wore.
I’m sorry to confess that my first thoughts toward that woman after realizing what she had done weren’t peaceful. My wife was visibly shaken and visibly shaking. She was hurt and upset. Her thoughts toward the woman weren’t peaceful, either.
Law enforcement was called. Statements were given. A case number was assigned. As I write this nothing else is known.
Returning for evening worship that night the crowd was exceptionally small. A storm was blowing through at just the wrong time for attending, so most didn’t. Instead of the sermon I had planned I asked instead if anyone had something they’d like to share about how God had been moving in their lives recently. To my great surprise my wife’s hand shot up like a rocket and she began to share without any further encouragement from me.
She briefly relayed the details of the morning’s theft for those who hadn’t heard. Next she shared how her initial reaction was one of anger. She went on to tell how she had made the entire situation a matter of prayer throughout the day. As she did so, and opened her heart, mind, and soul to God, she found her feelings softening as God gently spoke to her about the transitory nature of possessions. Tablets are just another possession that can be replaced, she said, and God had brought her to a place of peace about the whole thing.
Words cannot adequately express how proud I was of her at that moment. It also reinforced for me the connection between prayer and peace. Without an intentional investment of our time and spiritual energy in prayer we will never find peace. Not for ourselves. Not for our communities. Not for our world.
I praise God that my wife prayed intentionally and fervently. I praise God’s faithful response in granting her peace. Because she is at peace I, too, am now at peace.
Say yes to peace.