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Having peace even when cancer and death face you?

December 31, 2017

7Tom blinked and struggled to talk.  There was not a sound in the whole church auditorium.  Cancer was eating away our pastor, and he now had to sit on the steps of the stage in order to keep up enough energy in order to talk.  His shirt collar seemed huge around his skeletal neck; he had been losing around five to ten pounds per week, and he crammed a piece of granola bar into his mouth every ten minutes in order to force nutrition into his body.  He was in severe, deep pain.

But he was at peace.

Later that week I sat through our deacon’s meeting and watched Tom direct the course of our church for the months and years to come after he died, and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the calm fortitude he displayed as he spoke.

He’s dying, but he is so calm. He’s not putting on an act – why would he care to be theatrical when he knew he only has months to live?

Tom had peace.

Tom would be dead within the next month.  We mourned greatly.

But he didn’t leave us empty.

As I told you in my most recent blog, I have been seeking to see Jesus again, in a clear and powerful way that can restore that joy of salvation I once had.  

God brought Tom Craig back to mind.

Tom’s memory brought the foundational message of Jesus, displayed in His incredible Sermon on the Mount.  Just a portion of it, really, but the phrase shouted into my inner soul even in the quiet of this morning.

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

That’s really want I want: peace.  I think you do, too.

Years back, as a single man, I can recall sitting among the Redwood trees of northern California and gazing at the magnificence of God’s creation, and although I was astonished, I remember leaving and still feeling, well, incomplete.  I enjoyed finding new sites and environs in search of personal well-being but couldn’t get that unsettled angst in my soul.  I camped out in the back of Yosemite National Park (is there any place so beautiful?) but again, as I sat by my campfire I still felt a gnawing urge to be at peace.  I think all of us can relate; we enjoy diversions but we want that lasting solitude that goes beyond a mortal emotion.

So I come back to Jesus, and He gives this straightforward but challenging statement:  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Okay, so what does this mean?  Is this, as I was preached in my youth, a call to fight against tobacco?  Change presidential voting?  Reduce hair length? Achieve higher church attendance?

No, of course not.

Jesus calls me to give peace, but in His teaching it is clear that I cannot give what I don’t have.   That peace is a gold mine, but I can only share what I own.  So … how do I get that peace?

Let’s allow the Scriptures give me a clue.

James 3:17: The wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable.

Okay, so I’m looking at purity above all?

Hebrews 12:14  Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.

I’m seeing something here:  Two pillars of living for the Christian is in peace and holiness.

But here is a powerful passage that tells me so much more:

James 3:18 And the seed … whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I think I see.  As I step away from the world’s influence and teach righteousness by example and by words, I share a peace that I myself have perpetually blossoming in my life.

Here’s where my personal conflict is:  I’m a reader.  A voracious reader.  Daily, I want to study as many things and peruse as many different subjects as I can.  Philosophy.  Politics. Theater. Weather patterns. Sports.  Opera. Construction. Science.

So many subjects.  So little time.  I keep tacking informational articles and trivial knowledge on the corkboard of my daily memory. So guess what gets minimized?  Yep. You guessed it.  Good quality time with God.  My bulletin board is so cluttered and distracting, I seldom take time to enter the Vault of True Wisdom that God has made available – every day!  How stupid of me!  Think of it another way:  God is standing with the balm I need and I walk right by His pharmacy.  God is waiting to talk with me about my ills and set me aright so that my soul finds the healing it needs.

2 Corinthians 13:11, The God of peace
1 Corinthians 14:33, God is not the author of confusion but of peace.

Jesus is saying that we become His children through salvation, and then grow by spiritual empowerment through one-on-one time – in sitting with Him and learning of the way of the Kingdom.  Ephesians 2:14 reminds us that He is our peace and He openly tells us (John 14:27) that we inherit the peace He carries.

Judges 6:24 God is the Lord our peace.

Jeremiah 29:11 – I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace.

John 16:33 – These things have I spoken unto you that in Me you might have peace.

So here is my new adventure for the coming year:  an early spring cleaning of my soul.  Too many boxes of nonessential trivia need to go.  Too many pet sins of selfishness and egotism must be trashed.  Too many indifferent and shallow parts of me need to be bagged up and thrown out.   I’ve become a non-spiritual hoarder.  I need some radical eradication and disinfection.

My spiritual home has been so cluttered that I’ve unknowingly separated two beloved friends.  Psalm 85:10 was their wedding:

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

I want both to set up their household in my life once again.

Thank you, Jesus, for pointing this out.


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One Comment
  1. Patti Green permalink

    Beautiful Brad! Thankful we still get to hear from you even though we have no kids at GCA!

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