"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
I read this verse yesterday and it really made me smile, because I noticed something in this verse that I hadn't noticed before. I've heard and read this verse a hundred times- and then some. When we're going through a rough time, I like to read it, because it fills me with peace just to read it or say it to myself. When I notice that I start to get anxious and troubled, I remember that my Bible says to not be troubled, and to not be afraid. It's like a soothing balm to my troubled soul.
But do you see what it says there? Jesus is talking and He says "Peace I leave with you; MY peace I give you." That's huge! Right there Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them HIS peace. I know I've read and heard that the same number of times I've heard the rest of the verse, but this is awesome to read, because I happen to know something about Jesus' peace. It's perfect. It's absolute perfection- just as Jesus was.
Jesus gave us His Perfect Peace before leaving this earth. Fear and worry have absolutely no place in our lives, and yet the devil wants us to fear and worry. He will place newspaper headlines in our path that will give us fear- movies, books and TV shows that also fill our spirits with the ideas of fear. Those all come from the devil and from this world. And the thing is, we don't just keep that fear to ourselves, but we pass that fear on to our children in many regards as well. We worry about our children's safety sometimes, (naturally, as most parents do), but maybe sometimes we take that too far and plant a seed of fear in them instead of a seed of peace.
I'm thinking about that idea this morning. And I'm praying about it simultaneously. Because the last thing I want is to have inadvertently placed a seed of something worldly in my children's hearts- even out of a desire for good. I remember Abigail coming home from school in first grade and telling me about the "Code Black" drill they'd had to practice. Boy, what a way to put fear into the hears of the entire school district. School shootings were happening en masse then, and they just wanted to do their best to prevent the same tragedy from happening at their school. Abigail seemed to be okay with it, but after that, any day that I heard fire trucks or police sirens in the distance, my heart would instantly start racing and I would be so afraid that something awful was going on at the school just a few blocks away where my baby was. That little kernel of fear was suggested to me, and I really couldn't let it go.
Perfect Peace chases out the not-so-perfect fear. Jesus gave us a spirit of peace, it's this world that tries to chase that peace out. In fact, the peace of Jesus is so perfect, it can keep the fear out completely, but we live in a world that tells us it is natural to have fears. Every other character on TV has a phobia or fear of something, and we are told it is perfectly normal. In grade school, kids make their lists of favorite colors, birthdays, and what they are afraid of. Why do we make fears normal?
I should note that fear and caution are two different things. Caution is a wonderful tool that God gave us to use common sense in our lives. When we see a snake in our yard, we should use caution to discern whether or not that snake could bring us harm. We should not take an attitude of fearlessness and just approach what could be a harmful snake... we should use the caution and common sense that God gave us to discern whether or not the situation should be avoided.
Peace erases fear. I've been talking a bit about natural fears- fears of death, snakes, strangers, but what about the emotional fears? Guess what? Jesus takes those away too. We don't have to be afraid of what other people think of us. We don't have to be afraid of approaching that stranger to pray for them- because God gives us a spirit of truth and peace. We also don't have to ever be afraid of following God's will for our lives, because Jesus' peace will smooth the path before us. He will guide us in the way we should go and has more peace just waiting there for us, should we need it.
Jesus gave us perfect peace! Perfect because it is His peace, and He is perfection. This is something to remember, and to pray about. And the next time we feel fear creeping up on us and causing not so pleasant things to stir in our spirit, we should speak aloud the words that Jesus left us with. We should stir up the atmosphere around us with His perfect peace, and when we do that, the worldly fear trying to break in will have to flee, because Jesus has already conquered the darkness for us, and it has no power here on earth. It may think it does sometimes- and it wants us to think it does, but it really doesn't. With Jesus' perfect peace, there is no room for darkness and fear.
May God bless you this weekend with the perfect peace of Jesus Christ.