Phone ringing, texts pinging, conflicts continuing, stress rising!
“Oh, just give me peace,” is the cry of so many of us who feel pressured by life’s frantic pace and pressures. We long for peace.
But if I were to ask you what you mean by peace – most of us will describe some romantic notion of a stress-free, conflict-free, untroubled stroll through life.
Lovely notion – but the problem is, it is completely unrealistic.
Life will never be like that! In fact, longing for that as our goal may only lead to further discontent and stress as we fail ever to reach the ideal we seek.
Maybe we need to review what true peace really looks like.
Once, there was an art competition. The competition was to paint a picture called ‘Perfect Peace’.
Many artists entered. Then the judges revealed the top three entries.
Third prize went to a picture portraying rolling hills bathed in spring sunshine with gambolling lambs.
Second prize went to a picture of a group of friends sitting in the summer sunshine by the banks of a quiet river, having a picnic together.
It was easy to see why these paintings were awarded prizes for being descriptions of ‘Perfect Peace’.
But then, to everyone’s shock, they revealed the winner.
It was a picture of a dark stormy sky, pouring a deluge down on to the land, which had caused the river to swell and so made the waterfall cascade down the cliff face with a fierce and frightening force.
‘How on earth could this picture win a competition called ‘Perfect Peace’? was everyone’s thought.
But then one of the judges said: “Look a little closer at the painting.”
And when you looked closer, you could see a bird’s nest built in a rocky outcrop on the cliff face, adjacent to where the angry waterfall cascaded down.
The nest looked like it must have been getting sprayed by the force of the waterfall.
So again, people wondered ‘What has this got to do with perfect peace?’
The judge said: “Look closer still.”
And, as you looked into the nest – you saw the mother sitting in the nest with her wings outstretched, acting as a banner over her young chicks.
The mother’s wings protected the chicks from all the spray coming into the nest. And the picture on the faces of each of the chicks was one of ‘Perfect Peace’.
The message is – perfect peace is not the complete absence of storms and troubles in your life.
Perfect peace is knowing you have someone watching over you through the storms.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3). “His banner over me is love” (Song of Songs 2:4).