Written by: Nancy Bresette
John 14:23,27-29 (GNT)
23 “Those who love Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and My Father and I will come to them and live with them.
27 “Peace is what I leave with you; it is My own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. 28 You heard Me say to you, ‘I am leaving, but I will come back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father; for He is greater than I. 29 I have told you this now before it all happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe.
As part of his final message prior to his arrest and ultimate death, Jesus told his disciples, when He was no longer with them, the Holy Spirit would come and be their advocate, their counselor, and their support system.
The Spirit would instruct them from within and would remind them of all that He had taught them while He was with them. Jesus then told them the peace He was giving them was entirely different than the peace the world gives so they should not fear what the future held without Him.
The peace Jesus was talking about is the inner tranquility that comes from peace with God. When Jesus said it was His peace that He was giving them, He was talking about the peace with which He faced the confrontations with the religious leaders, that grew more heated as time went on and the peace with which He would face what was about to transpire.
When Jesus appeared before Pilate, He was so calm, so serene that Pilate must have thought He did not understand the situation because he said, “Don’t you know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”
In perfect peace Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” That’s the kind of peace Jesus is talking to the disciples about. That’s the kind of peace He gives to us. It is a highly focused fearlessness and trust.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of one of those storms in life that rips away everything that remotely resembles peace and calm and felt yourself desperately in need of God’s peace?
Scripture tells us that peace is available to everyone, regardless of the circumstances of their life. In fact, that abiding peace is often found in those for whom it seems totally impossible.
That truth was demonstrated to me during the long journey my grandson has been on following a life-changing automobile accident he was in as an infant. As a direct result of that accident, which also resulted in the death of our four-year-old grandson and severe injuries to my daughter and son-in-law, I have found a totally unexpected, God-directed link between my relationship with Jesus and riverbanks.
To understand the connection, you need to picture the banks of a river. Their V-shape is either wide or narrow depending on the composition of the terrain surrounding the river.
Solid rock erodes to steep-sided banks, while softer soil melts to a gentle slope. In either case, when the bank no longer tumbles into the river with every passing storm, it is said to have reached its angle of repose.
I have learned the process of having my faith sorely tested, the process of depending totally on God, because I had no other hope.
It is the process of reaching a point where I could say, and truly mean, “Thy will be done,” as it brought me to the point where the storms of life and the rushing emotional waters that accompany them fail to send me tumbling into despair and doubt, because like a river bank, I have reached my ‘angle of repose’.
No situation is impossible if we draw strength, courage, and wisdom from God. Our faith is not dependent upon external events for we have the Spirit of God living within us, and that means He is present in every situation in life and the Spirit of God cannot be broken, destroyed, or blotted out.
The Holy Spirit gives us what we need to deal with anything that comes our way, regardless of how impossible or hopeless things my seem.
We who have found the peace Jesus promised in the Holy Spirit, are called upon to willingly bear the burdens of others and share with them the reason for our faith.
Small Acts of Kindness
I have experienced many examples of that willingness in small acts of kindness, over the years that I just knew were directed by the hand of God.
I would like to share just three of them with you for they demonstrate how important it is to remember that what we do for others has a lasting impact.
- My father died on Labor Day weekend when I was four and my sister was six. That Christmas several of my father’s friends arrived at our door on Christmas Eve with a fully decorated Christmas tree, and a basket full of gifts, because they knew our mother was so deeply buried in her grief that she had not even thought about Christmas that year.
- While my grandson Wyatt was hospitalized for seven straight weeks immediately following the accident, every evening after he had finished his cleaning, an elderly night custodian in the Trauma and Burn Unit, came into his room and sang gospel songs to Wyatt because, as he told me, he thought that little baby needed some joy in his life. I will never forget that kindness.
- My husband’s oncologist once told us that when she was doing her residency, she was told by the head of the oncology department that she must learn not to get emotionally attached to her patients, because she would end up losing most of them. It was obvious she totally ignored his advice for she was one of the most hands-on, compassionate people I have ever known. As we got to know her better over the years, she shared the fact that every night she prayed for every patient she had seen that day.
Those acts of Christian love, and all we do to make life easier for others, are Spirit-led and they bind us all together.
The faith that binds us together sometimes also holds us up when we are unable to stand alone. I liken that faith to erosion control. When we link hands along the riverbank, daring to get our feet wet to keep someone else from tumbling into the deep, we are the conduit through which God’s peace can flow to others and help them withstand the storms of life.