A reflection from Angie Foster, Ordinand in Walmsley Parish 

I know that as congregations throughout the team, you have connected deeply with the suffering of the people of Ukraine. This is demonstrated by your various demonstrations of support by, for example, attending a Prayer Vigil, contributions to the bucket collections, plus the donations and welcome for the Ukrainian families who have come to live in each of our parishes. Whilst praying for peace from the destruction and evil of war is important, I would like to consider a different kind of peace.

One of the greatest problems we as believers face is that of anxiety concerning the future. It is easy to get caught up in the practice of the world in worrying about what happened yesterday, what is going to happen today and even tomorrow in our relationships, in our work, at school, in our travels and other daily activities. If we widen our horizon, we could spend time worrying about the financial markets, the economic markets and what might take place concerning our health or our families. Someone has called worry ‘borrowing trouble’. We borrow trouble from the future and add it to the problems of today. And worry is the interest we pay on borrowed trouble. Norman Vincent Peale said, ”The word ‘worry’ is derived from an Old Anglo-Saxon word meaning to strangle or to choke. How well -named the emotion is – it has been demonstrated again and again in persons who have lost their effectiveness due to the stultifying effect of anxiety and apprehension.

A story is told about a man who came face to face with the dangers of worry:
Death was walking toward a city one morning and a man asked, ”What are you going to do?”
”I am going to take 100 people,” Death replied. ”That’s horrible!” the man said.
”That’s the way it is,” Death said. ”That’s what I do.”
The man hurried to warn everyone he could about Death’s plan. As evening fell, he met Death again.
”You told me you were going to take 100 people,” the man said. ”Why did 1,000 die?”
”I kept my word,” Death responded. ”I only took 100 people. Worry took the others.”

Have you ever been just moving along and suddenly something happens that just steals your peace? Some news, some event? A bill in the mail, text, or email. Or someone that ”just needs to see you”.
A phone call, a pending doctor’s visit. The loss of a loved one, a friend…a tragedy.

Maybe the following story might relate to some of you: A young boy was driving a hayrack down the road when the wagon fell over in front of a farmer’s house. The farmer came out, saw the young boy crying and said, ”Son, do not worry about this, we can fix it. Right now, dinner is ready. Why do not you come in and eat with us and then I will help you put the hay back on the rack.”

The boy said, ”No, I cannot. My father is going to be very angry with me.”
The farmer said, ”Now do not worry, just come in and have some lunch and you will feel better.”
The boy said, ”I am just afraid my father is going to be very angry with me.”

The farmer and the young boy went inside and had dinner. Afterwards, as they walked outside to the hayrack, the farmer said, ”Now, son, don’t you feel better after that great meal?”
The boy said, ”Yes but I just know that my father will be very angry with me.”
The farmer said, ”Nonsense. Where is your father anyway?”
The boy said, ”He’s under that wagon.”

God created us to operate and function best in an atmosphere of joy and He gives us a formula by which we can live with God’s peace in our hearts. If we are not living in peace, nothing satisfies.

And the devil is masterful about consistently creating the ”storm” opportunity that keeps you off the faith train! It is hard to have faith when you are dealing with peace-stealing situations.

Yet, the Bible reminds us that God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Cor. 14: 33), because two of the qualities of God are order and clarity.  Chaos does not originate with God. The Hebrew word for Peace is Shalom, meaning God’s rule and justice.  Yet while we work and pray for a better world and a better government, we must always keep in mind that God’s government is not of this world, because His kingdom is not of this world.

During national and international mayhem and chaos, Isaiah affirmed to God’s people then, as his writings will affirm to us now, that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and remains in control despite the appearance that the enemy has the upper hand.

The Kingdom of God and His Son Jesus Christ are spiritual and they live within our hearts.  Jesus Himself said, “Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Yes, we have a host of earthly leaders in high places, but their kingdoms are flawed, and will rise and fall, but God’s Kingdom is eternal and is from everlasting to everlasting.
And so, the transformation of earthly kingdoms (governments) comes only as there is spiritual transformation in the lives of those who lead our nations and through those who are citizens of God’s Kingdom.  There is spiritual peace in God’s kingdom, but that peace cannot be experienced by anyone until Jesus Christ takes up residence in their lives.  And as the Peace of Christ fills our lives, we then work for God’s Shalom here in the earth and become peacemakers in this world in which we live.
Maybe that is why Paul writes in Colossians 3: 15 our reading today, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace.”  As the Prince of Peace, Christ administers God’s rule of peace.  We cannot experience peace in our souls, without first having made peace with God. God, in Christ, desires to set up His kingdom and rule in our hearts, where Jesus is not just our Saviour, but Lord as well.

Finding a vaccine for coronavirus, restoring our economy, bringing back jobs and employment opportunities, addressing our deep-seated social issues and racial tensions, providing affordable health care, are all needed, but they remain exterior to the soul peace that can only be received through a relationship Jesus Christ and God.

You can see examples of efforts that can make for world peace, but they will still leave a lot to be desired because they work from the outside in.  The Peace of God does not work from the outside in but from the inside out. It works because if we allow His peace to take up residence in our hearts, personal transformation can then occur.

Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Ephesians 2:14 declares that, “He is our Peace.”  Soul peace is not found in positive thinking as much as this may be of benefit.  Soul peace is not found in the absence of conflict or problems, as much as some would desire to live a life without conflict or problems.  Soul peace is not found in good feelings, good health, or money in the bank, as much as these may give us some degree of peace of mind, but true soul peace comes directly from Christ ruling in our hearts.

We can have all forms of peace the world offers us and still be in want of soul peace. In John 14:27 Jesus gives the promise to His disciples and to us, that He is giving us a peace, and leaving us a peace that this world cannot give, neither can it take it away.  It is hard to describe this feeling and experience.

If you were to try and give a description concerning the peace of Christ perhaps, they might be led to say, “The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the believer and is able to insulate our hearts, the deep inner sanctum of our souls with the peace of Christ, in such a way that the forces of sin, uncertainty, fear, doubt, and many other hostile forces cannot overcome.”

The Peace He gives does not mean peace in the absence of trouble, but peace amid trouble.  Peace not from the absence of fear, but peace during fear. The Peace Jesus gives is not as the world gives.  His Peace cannot be bought on Wall Street.  His Peace cannot be negotiated at the United Nations.  His Peace cannot be guaranteed by a thriving economy, or by the promises of any world leader.  The Peace He gives, is Himself.  It is Peace of the soul, His Fellowship, His Friendship, His Forgiveness, His Salvation, His Grace and Mercy, His Protection.  The Peace that God will supply our every need according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  The Peace that He has gone to prepare a place for us that where He is, we will someday be also.  Amen.

If you would like to join the House Group, you will be most welcome. We meet once a month on a Monday at 7pm. The next one is scheduled for 18th November – venue to be decided; refreshments are provided – usually including cake! If you would like more information, please contact me at:  angie@walmsleyparish.org

You can access this on our Walmsley Parish website

If you would like to write a piece for inclusion in the Walmsley Parish Newsletter & E-news, please contact Dawn Hitchen [dawn@walmsleyparish.org]