Peace in the midst

I keep cards on my window sill above my kitchen sink. The cards usually have scriptures or quotes I am turning over and over in my mind. They make the cut because they have struck me in some sort of way regarding the reality of my life. I read them over as I stand at the sink. I ask God questions about them. There is usually something I don’t understand about the words, the meaning. Many times my life and the promise of the scripture are not lining up to be quite frank.

I get plenty of time with these words above my sink because I am at my kitchen sink for ridiculous amounts of time. And let me tell you, I am not a big fan of the kitchen sink, the dishes, the mess which never ends in this family of 8. Every day my family needs to eat you know. And the way we have our family set up, this responsibility is mine most days, most meals. I have a love-hate relationship with this but that’s another topic for another day.

One of the scriptures sitting there currently is John 20:26-27,

“Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas. ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'”

I’m still not sure what first motivated me to put it on the window. Maybe it was because of the many doubts lingering in me. Maybe it was because I have used the word “locked” to describe myself in recent years. Maybe it was because I could feel the tenderness in this exchange. Maybe it was because I have many friends who doubt. Maybe it is because I want peace so badly but it seems elusive in the tension between my responsibilities and my dreams. Maybe it is because I can relate to having unmet expectations like Thomas and the others had after their leader and teacher, Jesus, died.

No matter the original reason I chose this scripture, I have sensed it speaking to me deeply without words to articulate it.

Then all of a sudden, Jesus used it to speak more clearly. I was running recently on a calm day, one of the “lamb days” of March, spring trying to push through the cold of winter.

As I ran I saw ripples from a duck swimming across the calm water. My thoughts immediately returned to a time when God reawakened my faith, when God’s grace exploded across the pages of scripture and into every part of my heart. At that time I became smitten again, like when I was a child first falling in love with Jesus. But this time it compelled me to pray things like “wherever, Lord, I will go wherever,” and “I want to surrender my whole life, every single part” and “I will do whatever you want me to do.” God gave me the picture of how we can have a ripple effect on the lives around us. I was so excited for my life to create ripples for God’s love and glory, for them to reach further than ever, far beyond my own family. I was ready for anything, or so I thought.

As I continued to run I lamented what hasn’t happened in my life, the ripples I had imagined. I couldn’t help but notice the calmness of the water. Peace. There it was in 3-D right in front of me. Then the scene with Jesus and Thomas flashed on the screen of my mind. Jesus was offering peace before Thomas believed. This is what struck me, the order. I stir and stir on some days over what I am not doing. I toss and turn looking for what’s next for me in terms of job, ministry or role. I churn thinking I need to figure it out, the who, the how, the what beyond my family and this house. Then when I figure it out I can believe God for it and act on it. Belief, action and then peace. I am not so sure this is the order every time.

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I wonder if sometimes peace comes before belief. I don’t know. What I do know is: I want peace. I want this stirring and tossing and churning to end. I want rest. I want to be settled. He’s like, “Jen, you have heard me before but you need to come back to this….I am your rest. I am your peace. This is what I give. This is what I do. Peace. Live from there. I know you want to do all this stuff for me but it will be so much better if it is from a place of peace.”

It’s not like Jesus stands outside of our lives with the offer. Jesus came through locked doors to get to Thomas and gently addressed his pain and doubt. He gets behind our locked doors and stands in the midst of us. He stands in the middle of our fear, of our doubt, of our anger, of our questions, and of our shame and he offers straight up peace. This is what he does. This is who he is. Peace in the midst. Peace be with you. Peace be with me. This is what is possible even when we don’t know what our next steps are. Words of peace on a card describing 3-D action over 2,000 years ago coming to life here and now in the midst.

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