I’ll be honest: the week on Peace was a little like what happens when one prays for Patience. Why doesn’t God just zap us with the virtue we ask for? Wouldn’t we save time and frustration if we could just get to the product?! But apparently, He sees value in the practice that leads to it. Let’s just say that all 5 of us had multiple opportunities to “practice” peace this week.
Toward the end of the week, we took the boys on a surprise, quick trip to the beach where we joined some great friends whose vacation was already in progress. Among all the items dragged out into the sand were 2 large paddle boards which the boys quickly decided to use as surfboards. Living near the Gulf, surfing is not something generally on our radar. But the waves were actually large enough to give it a go. It was comical at first…then amazing to watch their determination of climbing back on the boards to try again after some serious and painful wipeouts. Before long, all 3 were successful surfer dudes riding all the way into shore. On a side note, I can see how this could be addictive and ego-stroking. Even our 6-year-old wanted to make certain that his new-found (girl) friend “Miley Grace” was watching him on shore!
Throughout the week, we discussed the Old Testament Hebrew word “Shalom” in light of peace. It wasn’t a term that necessarily meant just an absence of conflict. It is a spoken blessing that literally means “may your life be balanced.” Balance is difficult to achieve. In relationships, it’s nearly impossible without the Holy Spirit guiding our hearts. What comes natural to us when we feel wronged is retaliation. As human beings, we thoughtlessly achieve “balance” by returning slight and injustice in kind. But all that does is perpetuate more imbalance. It’s a truth that we all have to learn…whether it’s the Middle East or our living room. On the surfboard, when one feels like he is about to lose balance, the way he stays on is to shift weight in the opposite direction. Christ’s Spirit empowers us in the same way…to shift the opposite direction…to respond with humility, grace and kindness, even when it is not deserved.