Peace I Give To You


 

It’s hard to write these days.
There’s been something missing.
The title says a lot about the problem – Peace I Give To You.

I wrote those words almost three years ago.  Along with much of what follows.
The thing is – peace is still a problem.  
Or rather – the lack of it.

 

Sometimes I wonder – will my life finally come to an end and I can go home when I learn how to have and keep God’s peace?
Or maybe I’m here to write about my own struggles – hopefully with the end result of helping others not give up?
But either way – it’s a goal that I find I cannot give up on.
It has to be worth it.
Even if it only comes in the next life.

So – here’s the original article, from June 24, 2012.  If I decide to add anything, it will be in rust colored italics.


 

t’s been a while – almost a month since I’ve written anything.
There’s been something missing.
This title says a lot of the problem – Peace I Give To You.

Combine that with some words from a song we sang during worship this morning –
You give and take away
and it’s pretty much complete.
Before going on, let’s put the words in context.
The first phrase – Peace I give to you – is actually incomplete.  It’s likely what we tend to remember – but there’s more to it.
It’s in red – so you probably realize it’s from Jesus. The entire quote is from John 14:25-31 –

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.
Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

So we see – it’s not “peace” the way we may think of it.  It’s Jesus’ peace that He is giving to us.  And He doesn’t give as the world gives.

So – it’s not peace as in nothing will ever go wrong -it’s not peace that everything is going to be fine.

It’s peace in knowing that God’s in control -it’s the peace we can have in knowing that God loves us -it’s the peace in knowing that in the end – everything will be OK.

The other words – you give and take away –
They’re from the song Blessed be Your Name.

The bridge to that song goes –
You give and take away, you give and take away heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your Name.

When I was looking up the exact wording of the bridge, I came across something I hadn’t seen before. There’s also a book with the same name – written by the authors of the song – Matt and Beth Redman. The book overview on BarnesandNoble.com sum up the point I’m looking for quite nicely –

Worship is always a choice. During peaceful and pain-free times, the choice to respond to God in thanksgiving and praise may be relatively easy. But at other painful or confusing times in our lives, the choice to worship is a costly act of devotion. In the life of every worshiper there will come times when worship meets with suffering. In Blessed Be Your Name, Matt and Beth Redman use the words of their inspiring song to explore how to stand in the place of praise even in the face of hardship and pain. Focusing on the Psalms, many of which were written out of struggle, the Redmans share from their own experience and show how painful circumstances and our choices can either propel us toward God or away from Him, build up our faith or break it. Learn how to ride out the storms of life saying “Blessed be Your name, Lord” and mean it.

The note from the book says the Redmans focused on the Psalms when writing it.

Those words remind me of Job, when after hearing from subsequent messengers that he had lost –

his oxen and donkeys and the servants with them
his sheep and the servants with them
his house and all his sons and daughters

and his response was –

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

After more problems with his own health and his wife telling him to curse God and die –
his response was –

Job 2:10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Now – there is a question here -one that apparently causes a lot of conflict for some churches / people.
Does God really take away?
In the Old Testament – He surely did.
In the New Testament – He certainly will – in the End.
He will take His presence away from all who are condemned to Hell.Other than that – it would seem things are not like the OT.

So – where does this come from?

Well – it starts with this sequence from Job 1:8-12 –

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

That’s when Job lost the animals, his house and his children.

Then, this happens –

Job 2:3 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
Job 2:4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Job 2:6 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

That’s when Job develops his own problems – his wife tells him to curse God – but he refuses.

 

What we see here – it wasn’t God who took anything away.

Some may say that’s a fine line –
the difference between God not taking it away and allowing Satan to take something away.

One thing to realize –
none of it was really Job’s in the first place –
just like none of what we “own” or have is ours either –
everything belongs to God.

What we actually have is our free will –
our choice on what to do when we don’t like what He does with His things –
to praise God –
or to curse Him.

Job refused to curse God.

Instead he says –

Job 13:3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.

In New Testament times – we don’t have to do that.  We have Jesus – who does that for us – who died for our sins – who has the power to forgive us – and who prays for us.
And who gives us His peace.

So then -the question comes back – I started off saying that something’s been missing.
What is it that’s missing?
Is it the peace that Jesus promised – or is it the worldly kind of peace that I want to have – free from conflict?

I would love to be free from conflict –
I wish my car wasn’t totaled –
I really wish Hachiko had never been abused before he came to our house and wish he would recover from that abuse more quickly –
and I wish there weren’t so many problems at work.
I wish a lot of things were smoother than they are.
But – right now – they aren’t.

We have decisions to make – decisions that rely on trusting God – trusting Him no matter which choices are made.

That’s not “peaceful” – at least not peaceful in the worldly way.

No – it’s stressful.

At least I don’t have my wife telling me to curse God and die. No – she’s the exact opposite of that. 
If you’re familiar with Job’s friends – I don’t have that either.  I have a great church community.

But – it’s still stressful.

You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your Name.

It’s not easy to have things taken away – no matter who’s taking them away.
It’s really hard to have your “peace” taken away – at least it isn’t for me.
It’s important to remember though –
the peace that Jesus promised – that’s not taken away –

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

That’s hard –
but it’s also really important.

Otherwise – it’s hard to do what the lyrics say –

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

CHORUS:
Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name

When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s “all as it should be”
Blessed be You name
And blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name 

Yes – it’s not hard to say Blessed be Your Name” when the streams of abundance flow – when the sun’s shining down on me – when things are peaceful.
It’s not so easy when I’m in the desert place – when there’s pain – when things aren’t peaceful.

But – like Job said –

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?

No matter what the reason for the trouble –
if it’s God’s will –
isn’t that what we pray for?

Mt 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
Mt 6:10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Mt 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.
Mt 6:12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

And there it is then –

Mt 6:10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?

 

And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

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.

Easy to say – easy to write – hard to do.
But worth it.
Blessed Be Your Name!


 It’s now April 2015.  

Just over a year ago, I was forced into early retirement.  I wasn’t planning on leaving for at least a couple more years.  But after 35 years of outstanding & commendable evaluations, my boss of 30 years decided I needed to go.  Had he just told me that – I would have left.  After all, it was a position that served “at the pleasure of the president” and no justification was needed.  But he decided to make it a really messy affair.  
A week after I filed the paperwork to retire – my wife announced she wasn’t sure she wanted to be married to me anymore.  That little item never came up during our retirement discussions.  
It’s been over a year since those things happened.  As it turns out, I don’t miss the job at all.  My old boss actually did me a favor.  The marriage issue – still unresolved.  In fact, things just got even worse.

Part of my reason for having an easy time going into retirement was this – one day, on the way to work, trying to figure out how to somehow stay employed – I had such a strong message from God that it made me jump – while I was driving.  It’s like He was telling me – don’t fight me on this.  Just leave.  Go.  I have something better for you.

So, a few weeks ago I was talking to one of the pastors at our church, and he asked me if I feel like Job.  
I said no – because God would know better than to put me into the same situation as Job.  God would know that I’d fail.
The pastor told me he disagreed.  That God would know I wouldn’t fail.
I hope and pray that he’s right.

I feel like I’m failing.

But my pastor told me to write about what’s happening.  He said that this can’t all be happening for nothing – and certainly this isn’t the something better that God had in mind.  There will be a light at the end of this.  And it won’t be a train.  
Good thing he said that, because it’s the first thing I thought of when he said light at the end.

And so – here I am.  
Writing for me – because at least when I write, I feel like I’m with God.
And writing for (some of) you – because the responses I get are things like people letting me know they appreciate knowing they aren’t the only one who feels like this. Which also let’s me know that I’m not the only one feeling like this.

So if you’re in the same place – hang in there.  
Use His strength – because, if you’re like me, our own strength isn’t enough.
Hopefully you have some friends in your church community who can help – the way Job’s friends did – at first.  When they just sat with him,  Before they tried to give him advice.  Someone to just spend time with you – maybe take your mind off things for a while – to let you know they care.  After all – Jesus left us as His representatives here on earth.  If we turn away from the church community – it’s like we turn away from Jesus.  We lose an opportunity to gain strength from them – and Him.  And we lose an opportunity to have peace from them – and from Jesus.

 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.

That has been one of my favorite verses.  It’s one of the things that got me started on my journey with Jesus.

I wonder – if I ever actually learn to do what this verse says –
will the troubles and problems stop –
or will they continue, but they won’t bother me?

Either way –
I pray that I learn the lesson soon –
and that if you are working on that same lesson – that you learn it soon as well.

 


image from praisejesustoday.com

 

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