By Linda Lewis
When my children were small, one of their favourite stories was “Five minutes’ peace” by Jill Murphy. The story centres around Mrs Large the elephant who, temporarily tired of her three boisterous children, attempts to get 5 minutes peace from them. Her efforts are however doomed to failure until, at the end of the book, she manages to escape from them into the kitchen, where she has 3 minutes and 45 seconds of peace before they all come to find her! It’s an affectionate, amusing story which I’m sure many harassed parents can relate to.
But in our modern, fast-paced society don’t we all long for a bit of peace at times? A chance to escape from the “rat race” and find rest and peace? And so we plan and look forward to our holidays – for those few precious moments of peace lying on a beach, sun shining, waves rippling, a gentle breeze blowing over us. Or we head off to some remote location, far from the crowds where we can enjoy the beauty of the landscape in stillness and quiet. Or maybe you find peace nearer to home, in your own garden where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of life for a brief time or curled up indoors with a good book where you can lose yourself for an hour or so. All these things are precious moments of peace but the trouble is they don’t last. Sooner or later “real life” intrudes and we find ourselves back in the hurly burly of life, where we have to relate to other people (including the difficult ones!) and we often find ourselves in situations that are anything but peaceful. Even on those occasions when our external circumstances are calm, we can still sometimes feel a lack of peace within ourselves. So where can we find true, lasting peace?
Long ago a prophet predicted the coming of a special baby who would be called the “Prince of Peace.” Later, when that baby, Jesus, was born in Bethlehem, the angels that announced his arrival proclaimed, “Peace on earth.” Jesus, when grown, often spoke of peace. On one occasion, he said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers”. When the disciples saw him after he rose from the dead, his first words to them were “Peace be with you!” Jesus’ desire was for his followers to know and experience real, lasting peace. To the world, peace is usually an escape from the stresses, strains and difficulties we face in life. That’s why so many turn to meditation as a way of shutting out life and finding a momentary peace. But God’s peace is a different type of peace. Jesus himself described this peace as, “Not as the world gives”. It’s a peace within ourselves, regardless of external situations. And that peace only comes when we allow God into our hearts and lives and trust Him as our heavenly father. Jesus’ life and death enables all who believe in him to enter into a right relationship with God and that is where we truly find peace and we can experience that peace whatever circumstances we may be in. It is difficult for us to understand how that can be. Even in the Bible it is described as “The peace that passes understanding.” But there are many Christians who can testify to the fact that even in the worst of situations, where worldly peace is impossible, they have experienced a God- given, deep down assurance of peace within themselves. Peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but rather the confidence that He is there with you always, whatever situation you may be in.
Jesus’ final words to his followers were “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” That is a gift that is freely available to us all, through faith in Him.