Becoming a peacemaker is one of the hallmarks of Christian maturity, that’s probably why it took me a little longer to learn. By nature, I am not a fighter. Whenever I’ve found myself accused of something, it’s generally not in my nature to defend myself. I am actually quite reticent, and I’ll walk away before I’ll defend myself. I’ll let people talk bad about me and not correct them. I’ll let people tell lies and just shrug it off. It’s not to say I am unaffected; I learnt a long time ago that people will always think what they want to think and there isn’t a single thing we can do to sway their opinion. Even if we were to go out of our way to bear our soul and explain it all, give it context, stress our side of it, etc. None of it matters as people will think what they want to think anyway. This post I made on my Facebook some 9 years ago clearly states my position when it comes to defending myself.
About becoming a peacekeeper, my friend Vanessa spoke these words to me over and over again this year every time I came to crossroads and wasn’t sure which way to go. ‘Choose peace Helena, however unfair it looks, God will fight for you. God will never let you down if you choose peace. Ever. He hates unfairness and He will fight for you and restore everything.’ It was she that introduced the faith angle by basing my already-existing disposition on God’s word. Vanessa made me conscious of a just God who will never let us be taken advantage of if we choose to keep the peace and leave the battle in His hands. She would often say ‘He can fight better for us than we could ever fight for ourselves.’ She quoted this verse to me over and over at each new decision-making juncture ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God’ Matthew 5:9. Whenever I came to crossroads on my journey, each time I was faced with tough choices and consulted with her in prayer, she only considered one thing when encouraging me: which path leads to peace? Nothing was too much to leave on the table, nothing. Nothing was worth fighting over or loosing peace over. Nothing. There would be no yielding or compromising when it came to pursuing peace. She set that tone from the get-go and I have carried it to the finish line and beyond.
Does it always go your way when you choose peace? Not necessarily, and not right away anyway. But remembering that God makes ALL things work together for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28) helps a lot. Deciding not to be dragged into court and letting due process play out without my participation brought me the deepest level of peace that’s humanly possible. Even more than pleasing God, I didn’t want the trauma of such a fight simply because I am not built that way!! I am not a fighter like that! Never have been, never will be. Vanessa assuring me that God will reward me keeping the peace fortified my resolve to stay out of God’s way as He handled business on our behalf. After the judgement-in-absentia, at face-value, one would think I lost. I didn’t. I gained peace to levels I cannot describe. Peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). A peace that flows like a river (Isaiah 66:12). Peace that no court allocation would have brought me. In any case, if I was already losing what I truly wanted, what else was there to fight for?!
You can imagine my dismay upon finding that even after the proceedings had concluded, I was still finding myself drawn into needless arguments!! I had no clue how to make it stop and all my best efforts were failing miserably! Despite ceding literally everything and making valiant efforts at peacemaking, I wasn’t doing a very good job at avoiding these, spats, quarrels and squabbles; I’d somehow find myself drawn into them inadvertently just by trying to answer questions sent my way. All my attempts to avoid getting drawn into such energy-zapping engagements would come to naught and I’d find myself embroiled in yet another ‘no, but’ back-and-forth argument.
One day while talking to Terry, we made the astonishing discovery that those arguments were not over any new topics, that they were just the same recycled arguments that had circulated throughout the entire marriage. ‘These same arguments will keep coming up until you pass the test. God wants to promote you and move you forward so you have to pass the test’, she said. How exactly do I pass the test, I asked her incredulously? ‘Don’t engage, it’s not your issue, it doesn’t concern you, simply refuse to engage.’ Boom! Life changing statement. ‘Stay above the fray and keep your peace.’ There was that word again -keeping peace. Vanessa had already been happing on keeping the peace all year long and I had managed to do that when it came to stuff and things and processes etc. But I kept failing when it came to ‘the little foxes that chew the vine’ (Songs of Solomon 2:15). These same fights had defeated me throughout the marriage, how is it that they were spilling over beyond its lifetime?!!! Vanessa was saying ‘lay it down’ and Terry was saying ‘sidestep it’. Dynamite combination! We were about to beat satan at his own game so we both could get the peace we so desperately needed -there is just no reason why anyone should be fighting beyond their marriage!!! The devil cannot continue to have a field day even after his best attempt at ‘stealing, killing and destroying.’ (John 10:10) Nope, not having it!
If you know anything about me by now, then you know I turned the Bible upside down and looked up every verse that talks about peace, being peaceful, keeping the peace, becoming a peacemaker, reward for keeping the peace, etc. This autumn, and now winter, has been fabulous and I’ve been doing an amazing job of stepping over poop (excuse the language, though appropriate considering it’s the devil at work here). Whereas before I’d somehow get it on my shoe, I have now perfected the art of not just stepping over it but going off on a tangent in a totally different direction. I keep hearing Vanessa say ‘nothing is worth losing your peace over’ and Terry’s words ‘it’s a test and you need to pass it to move forward to bigger tests with God for your future’.
Doing something the same way over and over again, foolishly expecting different results.
I am done with the ‘insanity’ stage of my life because my way out is to pass it on to my Lord. I don’t need to be understood. I don’t need to be right. I don’t need to explain. I don’t need to engage. I only just need to give it to the Lord in prayer. You cannot understand the joy that my newfound clarity brings me, the peace it affords me, the compassion it rouses in my heart for those still caught up in the insanity of it all… My Lord provides an escape route for all these things that are common to mankind. ‘God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13. If I am tempted to respond to a clear rabbit-hole-leading question, I remind myself of God’s way out for me. I meditate on what His word instructs us about seeking peace and His promises to us if we obey Him and pursue peace:
- May peace abound – Psalm 72:7
- There is a future for the man of peace – Psalm 37:37
- Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God – Matthew 5:9
- The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace – Psalm 37:11
- When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with him – Proverbs 16:7
- Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it – Psalm 34:14
- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid – John 14:27
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers! – Psalm 122:6-7
A peacemaker is one who makes peace by reconciling parties that are at variances stemming from a disagreement, quarrel, or fight. Being well practiced in this for quite a few months now, I pray I never slide back to the folly and foolishness of much-ado-about-nothing. In fact the Bible cautions: The Lord God will speak peace to his people, so let them not turn back to folly Psalm 85:8. I want the Lord to speak peace to me, so pray with me that I may never turn back to folly, for becoming a peacemaking is our father’s expectation of us.
This Christmas Season
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).
Embracing peacemaking is every mature Christian’s obligation. While for me, it has been one of the more elusive lessons I have had to learn, it makes my top five of most life-changing habits to have overcome. He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). The level of peace I feel at any given time is quite frankly mind-boggling to me. I catch myself wondering how much easier my life is going to be as I move forward to new adventures. I truly had no idea how much control I had over the environment I find myself in, or any given situation I am faced with. Learning that peacekeeping is possible no matter what is a real game-changer. ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ Romans 12:18. Inasmuch as it depends on you…
I have determined in my heart that nothing is worth losing my peace over. I spend a good amount of time in my secret place praying for my Lord to make me a channel of His peace. I say a short prayer before I answer pesky phone-calls. I pray before responding to angry texts. My prayer is that when I come to crossroads, may I always choose the path of peace. When faced with tough choices, may I always only consider the path that will lead to peace. May nothing be too much to leave on the table, may I always walk away from such a table. May nothing ever be worth fighting over or losing my peace over, absolutely nothing at all in this life. May there be no yielding or compromising when it came to pursuing peace. I have yielded my heart to my Lord so he may create in me a clean heart with pathways that lead to peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul
It is pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life