I miss Twinkies. My current age and diet tend to make them a seldom enjoyed teat these days. The mere sight of one brings back sweet memories of lunch boxes and sticky fingers. I am sure there are some strange people who enjoy eating Twinkies one bite at a time, but REAL aficionados recognize the best part is in the middle. As a kid, I would stick my finger in and scoop the yummy cream filling out before consuming the rest of the cake. Perhaps this is a good life lesson…sometimes it is best to dig in and focus on what is in the middle. I think PEACE is like that. We often mistakenly think it is best found in circumstances around us, much like the spongy cake of a Twinkie, when in reality PEACE is found deep in the middle and that is the BEST part of all.
I used to equate peace with quiet and stillness. I mean, still and quiet kids certainly can be a peaceful thing right? Nothing quite says “peaceful” like a sleeping child curled up under warm covers or snuggled next to a favorite toy. I think we all can agree that there is a definite amount of “parental peace” when the kids sit quiet and still in a church service or at a time of reverence.
I used to equate peace with “happily ever after”. I figured if everything was okay, then there was peace. I would try to have a “peace” about the fate of a loved one struggling with illness or loss by trying to explain or understand it. I would struggle to make sense of situations. I worked hard to ensure everyone was happy. I thought peace was the result of everything being okay and everyone being happy.
I used to equate peace with a lack of conflict. When countries stopped fighting we called it peace. I have seen countless videos of wars pausing, soldiers laying down their weapons, strangers holding hands, sharing a meal or a Coca-Cola… all to the tune of the song “Peace on Earth.” Peace was wherever conflict was not.
But that was all sponge cake….
Today there are too many homes that will sit still and quiet because their little ones are in the arms of our God. As a nation we grieve the loss of these precious lives. I know I am not alone in being reminded of the value and sweetness found in a loud and rambunctious child. Many hugged their own children tighter and welcomed the chaos of a child filled day. ….I no longer equate stillness and quiet with peace.
Today I know that life does not always bring a “happily ever after” kind of happiness. Cancer does sometimes win. Pain cannot always be avoided. Disease still impacts families. Bad things happen. I cannot make everyone happy. There times when things are not oaky at all. While I know God gives us answers to things in this life, I also know He cannot always answer me when I ask Him WHY. He knows I cannot comprehend His ways. I am sure it breaks His heart to hear me cry out to Him in my confusion, frustration and hurt…”Lord, why did you let this happen?” I no longer equate peace with “happily ever after.”
Today I know that conflicts are a part of the nature of man. I realize others have bravely fought to keep conflict from my door step. I know that nations fight mightily for what they value. I know that without conflict there could not be resolution. As difficult as striving against one another may be, it is often a path to merging many ideas into one space or understanding. I no longer equate peace with lack of conflict.
Peace is found beyond the sponge cake….
It is a calmness in our hearts when chaos fills the world.
It is a restfulness in our soul when others search for answers.
It is knowing deep inside yourself Who holds your future and trusting in Him even when things around you rage in conflict.
God’s peace is what is inside us, even in un-peaceful times.
For Jesus said “…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” John 14:27