When You Can’t See the Path

Sitting at O’Hare waiting for replace to plane to arrive.

I was up at 5am to get to the airport. I’m going to see my parents and some of my siblings! It’s a short visit, but I need to see them. The plane was late departing. I fell into a deep sleep. Half way to the Michigan, the intercom woke me up with: we have to return to Chicago for maintenance. I thought maybe it was a dream. Everyone was so quiet and not talking, so I really didn’t know if the 18 minutes to landing was for Saginaw or Chicago! It wasn’t a dream. We landed back at the same airport we left. United has been good keeping us informed. Will we re-board, re-book or get a new plane? We’re getting a new plane but it has to fly here, so I’m sitting in the airport, thinking.

Coming back to Chicago we were above the clouds. They look much more interesting from above with lots of texture and complex formations. Then we began the descent down into the clouds.

Remember I’m not sure where we would land, so I had no idea of NESW or land/water. We were flying in a cloud, with no visual landmarks.

From the ground we just see gray skies, no sun, no blue. On the plane we trust the laws of gravity, but we don’t know our position in the air. We are putting our trust in the pilot, the navigation system and beacons and aviation control. They know where we are, how high, what the problem is, and then decide the best decision for passenger safety.

Sometimes in life we can’t see where we’re going. The path is foggy and we can barely see landmarks along the way. We wonder if we’ve gotten lost, taken the wrong path or even left the path. We can feel lost, without purpose or direction, wondering if we should just sit down and wait for someone to find us.

You likely know where I’m headed. God is our co-pilot. He knows the path and how to get to our destination. And if we’re lost, He is with us to prompt us or lead us back to the path. He has better radar; He is the ultimate “aviation controller” in our lives.

I’ve been in that place where I haven’t a clue where I’m going (emotionally, spiritually) and I just wanted to sit down, retreat from life, and wait for someone to care. This is a problem that God is excels in solving! He looks for the lost sheep and returns them to the fold. He cares for us and helps us get back on the path.

I am so thankful for this! I can trust Him to get me to the right place. Just like I had to trust the pilots knew where they were going, I have to trust that God is more than able to get me where He has planned for me to be.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭ESV‬

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Peace on Earth

We’ve heard it, sung it, confessed our desire for it, but we have yet to experience “Peace on Earth.”

I saw a huge sign on a bridge yesterday, “Peace on Earth” and my first thought it was a Christmas decoration not yet removed. My tree is still up, so why would a city have all decorations taken down?

Then I thought about its meaning. To have peace on earth, every single person and country would be acting out of love to their neighbor. There would be no crime and no crime expected. There would be no violence, especially domestic violence. There would be no enslavement, especially human trafficking. There would be no fear of nuclear missiles, or bombs, or terrorism, or countries taking over other countries. To truly have peace on earth, there could be no racism, no sexism, no bias or denigration, no other “-isms.”

It would be every, single person on earth at peace, safe, with all needs met. There would be no need for a refugee program or refugee camps. There would be no sanctuary cities, no dirty politics, no meanness, no slander, no uncivil behavior.

Think about it. Every. Single. Person. At. Peace. Every minute. Every day. Forever. Let your mind’s eye search around the globe and absorb what it would mean for true peace on earth, not as a thought or a dream, but in reality.

I grew up at a time of nuclear threat, war and racism. During the fight for Civil Rights, I was an impressionable young teen. I lived in an idealistic world. I thought by saying, “Let there be peace on earth,” it could happen. I expected people to desire peace and to work for it to happen. The song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (and let it begin with me) was possible. If we all wanted peace, surely it would happen.

I am no longer that idealistic teen. I have seen bullying, meaness, violence toward others, and anything but peace. I live in a time when Homeland Security is necessary. I’ve experienced the fears of a mother with a son in a war zone.

The image of peace in earth reminds me of heaven. Yes indeed, “no more sorrows, no more pain.” (See Revelation 21:4.) Can there truly be peace on earth before our lives end? I go back to: imagine looking around the world and seeing everyone acting in loving ways. Just one person being hateful would upset the peace. And if even one group or country got mad or envious of another, peace would be lost. Why is this? Why can’t we all live in peace? My neighborhood is peaceful and filled with respectful, kind people, but not everyone can say that. And if a group gathers to voice their free speech rights, violence breaks out around them. There just isn’t peace in this world.

The moral code, the Ten Commandments, lays out the rules God’s people should live by. But even if we try very hard, we will fail. Something will make us angry. A temptation will happen at a moment of weakness, or our own selfish desires will cause us to sin. I feel like Peace on Earth is an impossible goal. And apart from God and the Blood of Jesus, that is true. There is an answer, and most don’t want to hear the message, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So I have hope! There is an answer to the problem of sin. It’s found in the Blood of Jesus, in recognizing you have fallen short, sinned and transgressed the Law of God, of repenting for your sins, of believing in the work Jesus did on the cross, and then, living your life for Christ. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So, I can be at peace in my inner being, because my mind and heart is guarded by the peace of God. I can be a peace maker, a peace carrier, but I can not make peace on earth a reality. I can’t force people to live in peace with one another. And God gives us each free choice, so he’s not going to force anyone to live in peace either that refuses to listen. But I have hope! And I know heaven is real. And then there will be everlasting peace. (Sigh!) “I Can Only Imagine!”

“I can only imagine when that day comes, When I find myself standing in the Son, I can only imagine when all I would do is forever, Forever worship You” -MercyMe

Here is a sample of Bible verses that talk about “peace in earth” I found today:

“…and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬ – This is probably the source of the Christmas season greeting and the “Peace on Earth” sign I saw. Notice the caveat: among those with whom he (God) is pleased. Not everyone. Not the whole world.

“…making peace by the blood of his cross.”  ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬ – Here we see the blood of Jesus as the source of peace.

“Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ – The peace of the Lord will never end.

“I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬ – This speaks of the mercy for Israel from the Lord.

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”   ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭ESV.‬‬ This is a prophecy of a Day of the Lord, when He rules from on top of the mountain.

There are many more Bible verses that speak of peace. I challenge you to find a few more. Think about what peace in earth looks like to you? Is it possible? What would it take? Beyond platitudes and admonishment, how can we be instruments of peace?

Peace Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Hope Against Hope

Against all hope, I will believe in all that the Lord has promised; I know that He is for me and will not fail me. I will not stay in the place of a sick heart, but I will rejoice in the Lord my God!

Hope deferred can sicken us. For me, passion and joy and energy are robbed by the despair and hopelessness. I have been here before and I am back again. But I will hope in my God! I will tell my heart to beat again! [from the book by Dutch Sheets of the same name.]

What follows are some Bible passages that speak to my heart to day:

Romans 4:18-19: Against all hope , Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” NIV

Proverbs 13:12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. NIV

Romans 5:4-5: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. NIV

Romans 8:24-25: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. NIV

1 Peter 1:3-5: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. NIV

Psalms 39:7: “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. NIV

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. NIV

Ps 31:24: Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. NIV

Ps 42:11: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. NIV

Ps 147:11: the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. NIV