THIS WEEK: ReDiscover PEACE!
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. —Mark 4:37–39 (NKJV)
Have you ever experienced a hurricane? Have you ever passed through the eye of a hurricane? It’s an eerie experience. There truly is a stillness right at the center of a circling hurricane. After the worst of the storm comes a stillness. They eye is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering, ferocious thunderstorms that are the violent vortex of humid air that feeds the hurricane. But then the winds calm. The rains cease. It’s a pause in the maelstrom. It’s temporary. But it’s kind of like those freeze frame moments in a movie when everything slows down to one brief moment of reality while life or chaos or catastrophe happen all around the character like a brief millisecond of clarity.
Jesus has the power to calm our storms. Even in the worst of the gales howling around us. The disciples experienced it physically in that storm at sea with Jesus. We can experience it spiritually. “Peace, be still,” Jesus says. As we cry out to Him, He is able to bring calm to the winds that rage within and around us. He is able to bring pause and clarity. Jesus is our peace, no matter how bad the storm we are facing.
Apply: What storm are you facing? How will you pause today to, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)?
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. —James 3:17-18
When their small boat set sail in Chile to cross the notoriously treacherous Drake Passage to Antarctica, there was so much that could go wrong. The 2004 expedition would attempt to be the first to climb an unnamed peak in Antarctica. First, they had to trek by foot for weeks across the ice. Most had no sailing or mountaineering experience. And all of them came from opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The “extreme peace mission” was the idea of Heskel Nathaniel, an Israeli outdoorsman, and sponsored by Israel’s Peres Centre for Peace. But the group was not made of peace activists. Some had served in different armies and served time for attacks on the other side. Others were political activists. Some had lost family members in bombings. But they had to work together for success and survival. “I’m not so naive as to believe we will bring peace,” one of the team members said. “But I think it will push forward other groups of people to go ahead and talk, just sit and talk.”
The crew was ultimately successful in summiting its peak and raising awareness for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and potential peace. But first they had to be willing to extend grace, mercy, forgiveness, and trust to their teammates from across the border. These are qualities of “wisdom that comes from heaven,” as James describes them. And he likens the process of finding peace to planting: When we plant and cultivate peace, we harvest and experience righteous fruit.
Often peace means taking the first step and planting the seeds of peace one at a time.
Apply: What conflict is keeping you from shalom wholeness? What step of forgiveness or grace will you take to cultivate peace or heal a relationship?
(Reprinted with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)