Jehovah Shalom - Peacemakers

"We do not seek peace as we'd seek an apple. Peace is not a unit. It is God Himself."

WE ARE THE WAVES on a turbulent sea, forever crashing on shoreline and boat hull. Tossing objects higher and lower, we see rest and find none. We tremble continually at our emotions, unable to hold them in, damaged by their expulsion. While He who walked upon the waves without fear stares us in the face. We’re like Peter, like John, and James, seeking a firm footing in the midst of the boat, terrified of the vision before us, though it is the Son of God.

There is no rest for the wicked. No rest in wickedness. No peace to be found in a million rules and human thought processes. We cannot worry ourselves into peace. We are called to be peacemakers. This we understand and accept. We are not to make war but to emit love, like perfumery, clouds ascending out of every pour. Some interpret this as pacifism. One of the bravest of men was a pacifist in World War II. He refused to fight but was sent to the battle lines anyway, and in the height of gunfire, when the soldiers he’d trained with were being hunted down, one-by-one, climbed an immense cliffside and lowered them down to safety, despite the enemy’s cold, hard breath on his neck.

Some choose peacemaking as a place of motionlessness, a place to tuck themselves behind rocks, in a desert of sand. But peace-making is an active position. To make peace requires doing, and most of that doing is against ourselves. We must take our thoughts and renew them to sound like Jesus. No more cherry-picking what we appreciate, but we sacrifice ourselves, laying down our wills, our desires, in favor of His. In short, peacemaking can hurt, but it comes with eternal value. The Word of God calls it a living sacrifice. Not that we are physically dead but mentally and emotionally in all of our personal habits and choices.

Why? Why would we choose to do this? Why give up “who we are” and suffer some internal pain and discomfort? For that, we need God’s vision. He sees not the wind and the waves, but the depth of the ocean. He sees those creepy fish that swim down where the pressures are intense and there is not one shred of light. He sees the currents that swirl within the waters, how this one goes north, and that one goes south, and in the east, there’s a tidal wave.

When Jesus walked upon the waters, He saw the disciples from where He sat on the shore. It is not stated, but I doubt seriously this was an actual physical sighting. There was the storm blurring His view. We can’t see ten feet in front of us driving down a long dark road in heavy rainfall. No, He saw in the Spirit, saw their struggles to keep afloat. They’d gone some distance out upon the lake. He knew, as well, that the human body cannot be suspended on the water’s surface tension on any day, much less one like that one. He would make peace on the lake, but He would not make peace before He performed the miracle. He would not make peace with the atmosphere and then risk His life. What He set out to do, He did in complete reliance upon the Father and the Spirit of God who anointed Him.

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

The table of Psalm 23 is set in the midst of our enemies. There are two interpretations of this scene. One involves the landscape where the sheep were raised and their care there. There were predators who would kill the sheep if they were not guarded by the shepherd. The other is the one most used, of a table set with a banquet, and various devilish enemies surrounding it. Why would God want you to eat under such stress? Well which would bring more rejoicing? That you had the boldness to do so, fearlessly enjoying sumptuousness while the fiery darts whizzed around you? Or that He smoothed the way, and you suffered not at all?

He does smooth the way for the weak and the weary. He is a gentle, loving Shepherd. No one is required to be stronger than they are, but we are to be their peacemakers, extending them loving care with His hand in ours. But He also makes warriors. He makes Peters, who cried out that it was a ghost talking to them, then asked to walk on the water. Jesus made peace when He climbed in the boat. But first, Peter walked on the water, and Jesus rescued him from sinking. Then He calmed the storm.

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did.” (Romans 15:1-3 MSG)

When we have peace despite what is going on around us, we have taken God’s hand. He is Jehovah Shalom. Shalom is complete well-being. He is the God of peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. It is the gospel of peace. We bear the fruit of peace within us. Not as a separate entity. We do not seek peace as we’d seek an apple. Peace is not a unit. It is God Himself. And there lies the key.

What makes a martyr? Think not of death, although there are those we honor for their fortitude and willingness to sacrifice themselves. But some martyrs are living. They faced the giant and survived. They refused to blink despite astronomical odds, but instead held onto boldness in a place of peace, only obtainable because they know the Peace that passes understanding. Philippians 4 gives us this phrasing and, following it, an image to focus on to retain our strength. The One who is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, with virtue and worthy of praise, is Jesus Christ. He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). When He is not, then we will have no peace at all. There isn’t any other option.

John said it this way in 1 John. A man who loves his brother is in fellowship with God. A man who doesn’t is not. Peace is seen in our actions, in our efforts to deny ourselves, and find instead the image that God has made for us. That woman or man of God we could never imagine we’d be. I stand on such a clifftop, wondering how I got here, but knowing it only came into being because from the innermost part of me, while the storm raged, where I raged outwardly, there where Jesus is, came peace. I had no other option, and those who have stood where I have, although maybe not in my shoes, but they have faced something turbulent and overcome it, know what this is like. There is only one road forward, and the God of peace is your only avenue.

“Power is not just for the miracles … One of the primary functions of power in the book of Acts is the ability to endure. It was this baptism of fire that made it where they had no other option. They don’t look at life as having multiple options. They have one option – it’s to do what He says. It’s the baptism of fire that reduces the options.” | Bill Johnson

Fire is hot, but He is rainfall. The waves can drown you, but He breathes in life. In the desert, all you see is the sun, then water comes from the rock, and you find an oasis. Nothing is impossible for Him, not because He will remove all the obstacles but because despite them you are strong. You’re standing at the shoreline, the rain hitting you in the face, but there’s that nudge of your feet to go anyway.

Jesus did calm the storm, but first, He told those in the boat to not be afraid. Though things looked rough right then, though the weather had taken its toll, though they felt the exhaustion of rowing for so long, Jesus stood in front of them once more, the power of heaven in His command. We have His Resurrection power within us, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. In Him, we have peace, but we must not only know it, but also choose Him in the difficult moment, and the most powerful deterrent to losing our peace is saying no to the anxiety, to anger, to fear, and instead, seeking God’s presence.

He isn’t limited to Sundays, but should be part of every day, a time of worship part of our dailyness, the Word of God a well within us that rises up without our having to fall apart first. For then, we’ll be like Jesus, unflinching when asked to take an impossible path, unnavigable by any man, but with victory assured to us. For to this moment, we have been born.

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)

READ “Glory to the Lamb” 

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Suzanne D. Williams, Author