“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Do you have a life verse? One particular bit of scripture that springs to mind when life goes all wonky and you feel like you’re far away from your Father in Heaven? One that when you read it instantly your soul calms and you feel His loving arms around you?
Growing up, the religion that I was a part of had something called scripture chases for the youth. We would, over the course of weeks, memorize scriptures to prepare for a monthly competition where the first person who could turn to that particular scripture in their Bible would be the winner. So you not only had to know the scripture, you had to know where it was in the Bible. Now you would think that, in light of all the studying we would do, we would become fairly proficient at understanding the Bible.
Because I am highly competitive by nature, I spent many hours preparing for these events. I can easily say that I learned hundreds of scriptures by the time I finished high school. I was confident that I was very “Bible literate” as some would say. But sadly that was far from the truth.
The problem with this whole scenario is that while I knew a lot of scriptures, I didn’t KNOW a lot about the scriptures. I never spent time reading the words around a scripture. I didn’t learn the richness of a chapter or the meaning behind a parable. By the time I was a teenager, the Bible was just another book on the shelf and I was far away from its author.
I wouldn’t say I walked away from God as much as ran away from Him. Because of my troubled childhood, I was fairly certain that if there was a God, He surely had turned His back on me long ago. And because I was raised in the belief that it is your good works that get you closer to God, when I looked at the mess of my life, I knew that I was as far away from God as I could get. Truthfully, not once in my life had I ever been told that God would relentlessly pursue me until I came back to His presence.
In my late forties, God had finally decided He was done watching me hash things up so He stepped up His pursuit of me. Everywhere I turned, there He was. I remember the night I had finally had enough. I was on my face in the office of my business. My life had truly reached a point where I had no reason to go on. I wasn’t suicidal but I was totally wrecked and could see nothing ahead but pain.
Somewhere along the journey that is my life, someone had given me a card with a scripture on it. I had taped it onto the shelf of my desk just because somehow it made sense. But up until this moment I had not truly read the words or let them sink into my heart. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I couldn’t even tell you what peace looked like. Or felt like. Truthfully, if asked, I wouldn’t have been able to define what peace was. It had always been an elusive dream, something out of reach, a thing that other people had but was totally unavailable to me. But suddenly all I craved was peace. Not just any peace but His Peace. I wanted to know what it was, feel it, live with it.
In the darkness of my office, as I sobbed my heart out to an unfamiliar God, I began to focus on a song on the radio. It was, as usual, a rock and roll station. Certainly never a place I would have expected to hear about God. But because my Adonai is all about coming after His children, He can put His words wherever they are needed.
“Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine”
With a song on a radio and a scripture on a card, He began His pursuit of me. I wish I could say that in that moment I walked away from sin and my life was totally His from that point on. Sadly, that would not be true. But He slipped into the brokenness of my heart and began to fill up the empty spaces. Three years later, I gave my heart and soul to Him and I have never looked back. (Neither has He as He promises in Hebrews 8:12)
Now, when the world looks especially dark and grim, I open my Bible to read His words again. The words He gave me on that night so long ago. Words that now give me peace, no matter the circumstance. Not just memorized words but a promise that lives in my heart. “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” His peace. His love. His mercy.
Thank you for coming along for the journey,