An Illustration from the Wild.
In October 2006 I sat in a tree stand well over a mile from my truck. The weather was unseasonably warm. As the afternoon drew on to evening, I watched a dark cloud forming over the river bottom just beyond my stand location. It was hard to tell which way the cloud was going because it seemed like it just continued to build over my head.
Before I could get my climbing stand back to the ground safely, thirty mile-per-hour winds, and 40 mph gusts were breaking dead tree limbs all around me and my tree was violently whipping from side to side. A giant corn field not far away, that was so peaceful moments before, looked like angry waves twisting and writhing from the barrage.
Hail began to fall, crashing off my bow and clanging as it hit the platform of my stand. Lightning struck the field not far from me, and I knew I had no choice but to climb down as quickly as I could. I faced the tree and bent down to put on the foot straps that allowed me to control the lower platform of my stand. As I stood back up to start the climb down, I felt a sharp pain rip across the bridge of my nose. A baseball bat-sized tree limb had broken out of the tree top above me and hit me in the face. My eyes watered. I touched my nose. Blood soaked the fingers of my glove and dripped to the forest floor. The level of urgency continued to rise.
When my feet finally touched the ground, I took a moment to look at the sky. The tree tops swirled, and I watched a funnel cloud forming less than a mile to my south. I found a small wash-out to take cover in. I braced myself for the worst, but within moments, peace overtook the river bottom again.
The violence of that day in the woods was something I’ll never forget. It has caused me to be extra cautious about weather conditions when I hunt, especially if I’m hunting alone. It helped me appreciate peace when I’m in the field.
The Temporal Understanding of Peace.
I think most of us would say we appreciate peace. We think of moments in scripture when Jesus simply spoke and creation bowed to his command. Waves calmed, the demon possessed and infirm were suddenly brought comfort. But do we truly understand its value? Some might say yes, and that it’s worth fighting for. It’s paradoxical, but I would agree.
Unfortunately however, we are much more familiar with maleficence. Some have called it part of the “human experience”. We’re used to seeing the sick and dying and being able to do very little for them. We’re accustomed to the spiritual conflict that takes place even inside ourselves. We grasp for our own resources and answers and, once again, find little solace. Then, tomorrow we wake up, and do it all again. Our very concept of peace is fragile and fleeting.
Jesus, The Greatest Mediator.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was given to us to provide more than the short-lived experience of an individual moment. I knew the storm I was in while I was hunting would end. I knew where to go, and how to do my best to survive. What I had no idea how to survive was the war I had declared against God as a result of my sin.
No matter how violent our experience in life is, it does not compare to the coming wrath of God toward sin. No matter how peaceful our experience in life, it does not compare to the peace that Jesus, the greatest mediator, provides through his sacrifice and resurrection.
We should adore the narrative of Luke as he describes the calmness of the night Christ was born. We should crave the peace of solitude and the joy it contains. More than this, we should worship because of the eternal peace with God that Jesus has provided us.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6