Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
It is not often that someone gives you an assessment of the person you are or have become. I can think of two such cases that stand out in memory, and on both occasions I was a little taken aback — even although on mature reflection there was much that was accurate in the assessments.
The first was when I was in my twenties and working for a major insurance company at their branch office in Hamilton. I was told that I was ‘a dreamer’, which I took to be a derogatory remark. The second memory was of an elder in church asking me if I felt I would be more at home in a monastery. My mother used to call my bedroom at home (in the annex) ‘The Hermitage’, and not after the famous Russian palace and art museum either.
The word ‘Hermitage’ derives from Old French hermit, ermit, "hermit, recluse", from Late Latin eremita, from Greek eremites, literally "people who live alone", which is in turn derived from ἐρημός (erēmos), "desert". More than my mother have mentioned this perception of me over the years.
So why this introspective interlude? Since I last wrote a couple of days ago, I have been asking The Lord for some direction, or maybe a clearing out of the mental clutter accumulated over many years. Yes, I am a dreamer; a thinker; prone to what Conan Doyle called ‘a brown study’. Looking for something fresh and enlivening; a snapping-out from that feeling of lethargy. It is common for us all to seek a fresh slate at the beginning of a new year, and especially after the rigours of the last one. Nothing too exciting maybe, just refreshing; a clarity in these most over-excited times. I found this:
What is peace? You have seen a water puddle in the road, I’m sure. It is peaceful. There is not the slightest stirring in it. The water is smooth and unruffled. The colours of nature are reflected in it. That is not peace, but stagnant death!
Have you ever seen a child spinning a top? When the top is going its fastest, it is at perfect rest. The peace of God is perfection of energy; it is a healthy vigour of the soul. The peace of God is not the peace of stoicism or passivity. It is the most intense activity.
Some people say that they are tired of life; they mean to say that they are tired of dying. They are tired of the spiritual death that stops activity. They are tired of life getting so sluggish. What does Jesus say? “I have come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly; but ye will not come to me that ye might have it.” Everything in this natural world is pitted against you, and unless you have His life you will never have real peace. May the Lord have a NEW YEAR in you!
[OSWALD CHAMBERS: ‘Devotions For A Deeper Life’]
That helped me — more than a little — and who knew that peace was such an energetic and energising thing, or that it was a free gift? We knew. Jesus brings peace; but it also means that we are never 'people who live alone'.
And do children still play with spinning tops today? I don't know.
The tendency is strong to say—“O God won’t be so stern as to expect me to give up that!” but He will; “He won’t expect me to walk in the light so that I have nothing to hide,” but He will; “He won’t expect me to draw on His grace for everything” but He will.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART