Peace

So this is how the big city folks do it.

I’m on a train from Kansas City to Chicago. Right now, I’m in a quiet coach car. Everyone is either reading, sleeping, or in the observation or dining cars, and I now have time, in the morning when I’m fresh, to do some writing.  I think it was Scott Turow, or maybe J.K. Rowling, who said they wrote entire novels while commuting to and from work on the train. Now I get it, how someone could do that.

Can’t do much writing driving home on the interstate.  And once in the office or at home, the work begins.

Writing on a train was, and maybe still is, a daily experience for Scott and J.K. It’s a brand-new, first-time thing for me.

But the northern Missouri scenery is beautiful, the ride smooth, and the peacefulness of the traincar welcome.

As I get older, I find that peace is the one thing I yearn for the most.  No, not “world peace.” Athletes change their names for it (remember “Metta World Peace” in the NBA?), and it’s a cliché answer for beauty pageant contestants (“If you’re chosen Miss Universe, what’s your platform?”), but it means something different for everyone.  As long as that’s the case, “world peace” won’t happen.

The peace I crave is an inner calm.

Life will disrupt your peace. Money gets tight, friends and family become ill and die, divorce happens, jobs are lost. Those are facts, and can’t be avoided. So what then? Those of us who have lived long enough can attest to times in our lives when the old saying that “God will never give you more than you can handle” just doesn’t ring true.

So before I criticize that old saying for not being Biblical, let me step back. It may not be a quote from the Bible, but it’s really only incomplete.

God didn’t intend for us to face all of our struggles alone. What is impossible for man is possible with God.  Paul put it differently: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Romans 8:28)

So maybe the old saying should be changed to read like this:  God never gives you something you can’t handle, because with God, you can handle anything. It changes that peace-taker in your life into a peace-maker, as you realize who has control over everything, and that any circumstance is no match for his mighty power.

So rest on God’s ability to handle whatever is robbing you of peace.  If you can’t find any peace of your own, take his, through his son Jesus Christ.  It’s a gift, free for the asking.

I’ve always been intrigued by Jesus’ greeting to his disciples: “Peace I bring to you; my peace I leave with you.”

Now I get it.

Coming Up for Air

Some life events just stop you in your tracks. Like my daughter’s wedding this past weekend, for example.  I wanted to continue writing lots of blog posts during the weeks leading up to the wedding day, really, I did.

But for some reason, I couldn’t.

Did I have time?  Yes, there were always times when I could pull myself away to write.

I was physically well, planning and preparation for the big day was stressful but moving forward, and the bride (and her Mom) seemed happy.

So why couldn’t I write during those weeks?  I just don’t know.

I was able to eke out one of my weaker posts, Talking to Myself, in those weeks, but it was unsatisfying and largely misunderstood. And I’m not saying the post you’re reading now is a lot better.

But writing today just feels different than it has for the past month.

I really like Mark Gungor’s description of the compartmentalized male psyche as a bunch of boxes that can never touch one another, and that each man can access only one of his boxes at a time.  To borrow his description, for the past month, it’s as if my “Writing” box wasn’t only closed, it had been moved off the premises.

Miraculously, my Writing box has returned, as quietly and mysteriously as it left. And I plan to spend a lot of time there in the coming weeks.

And in the Nothing box. Gotta spend some quality time there, too.