I met a man recently who was, and still is, trying to navigate a difficult transition in his life. He is trying to juggle work, family, and the everyday, and sometimes crushing, burdens that come with being human in a world filled with other humans. As we spoke about the journey he faced he said, with a weary look in his eye, “I’m tired of war…You know, you get so used to despair all around you that it becomes hard to imagine life without it.”
His words are still echoing in my heart and mind. This man is fighting for air. For the first time in a long time, maybe for the first time in his life, something in him is being roused to want something more than chaos and despair. God is using the circumstances of his life have to shake him out of his routine and self-sufficiency. He wants peace, and I believe God wants to lead him to it.
Most people I know want to live peaceful lives. The problem is our definition of peace is all too often based upon people doing what we want, when we want. The peace most people are chasing isn’t peace at all — it’s control. Control of life. Control of others. Control. Control. Control. For some reason, we think that if we were in charge things would run much more smoothly. However, our personal track records of being able to make our lives, much less everyone else’s, run like a well-oiled machine are about as good as Willie Nelson or Snoop Dogg abstaining from the wacky tobaccy.
We just aren’t great at being the boss. We can be selfish, short-sighted, impatient, childish, just plain wrong, and incredibly slow to admit any of it.
Peace cannot be secured or sustained by people like you and me. To paraphrase John MacArthur, peace, not a truce or a cease fire, means not only stopping the war, but also bringing enemies together in love. Selfish, impatient people who are prone to messing things up can’t achieve such an important and fragile thing. Only someone with pure motives, steadfast integriy, and impeccable wisdom can foster lasting and joyous peace.
The bad news is that we struggle to have those things even some of the time. The good news is that God offers us this kind of peace through Jesus, the Sinless One. God has made peace with man through the blood of Christ’s cross. All that is required is for you and I to accept His invitation out of despair and war by surrendering. That’s right, surrender is how we experience peace. You see, the war and despair that we long to esacpe is the result of our own battle, conscious or not, against a Good God who also longs for and provides peace to those who would lay down their arms. Your thirst for control is as old as mankind. It was at the heart of the original sin. It is at the heart of every sin that has ever been committed. Your thirst for control is rebellion.
But praise be to God, he offers us peace through faith in Christ and His work. Without Christ, you are, at best, engaged in a Cold War with God. At worst, you are engaged in open rebellion against in the Mighty One. My prayer is that you, along with my new friend, will know, in increasing measure, the true, lasting peace that is made available in Christ.