The day the snake came, I called my husband at work and asked him to please just come home. All I could think about doing was climbing in bed, drawing all the shades and sleeping. If I stayed in bed long enough, maybe someone else would kill this snake. Maybe if I just didn't come out of that bedroom, someone - maybe God - would see that I was serious and I really couldn't take this anymore and just fix it.
But there was not going to be a fix, and I knew it. Some brokenness requires eternity to mend. The sweet life I imagined with all things neat and in order, the peaceful home I hungered for, was not going to materialize. When I woke up from sleeping I would have to face this and I would have to find a way to keep moving our family forward.
I began the next day reading my Bible out of habit more than hope. I was dull and heavy, but those three small letters at the beginning of Colossians 3 started shouting for attention: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..."
I grabbed a couple of other Bibles off the shelves. That same small word begins nearly every translation of this verse, so I opened the dictionary:
LET: v., to allow or permit; to grant the occupancy or use of; to cause to; make
Something sparked inside and I turned it over in my mind. Was peace something I had power over? Did its arrival in our home have anything to do with my will?
Another passage came to mind:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Phil. 4:6,7
Here again the presence of peace arrives with a command for us: Do not be anxious…and the peace of God…will guard your hearts and your minds…
I closed my eyes. Was it possible that I held the key to give peace the occupancy of our home? Could I allow it to come in by simply opening the door and welcoming it? But how could peace rule in a home where the snake may be hiding around any corner? Where no matter how hard I try, sin and its destruction force their way inside? Where one moment I feel safe and normal and the next I'm blind-sided by a predator?
I read again, and the Voice of the Spirit spoke urgently to me: Let the peace of God rule.
The Lord and I are old friends; I know I can trust Him when He speaks like this. But to get from anxiety, exhaustion, frustration and anger to peace was more than I could imagine.
Let go, He whispered. Right here and now, against all reason and justification: let go the fear, the frustration, the anger, the woundedness. Just let it fall to the ground. You can’t save any of it for later, you can’t keep one hand clenched around fear or save just a little woundedness to nurse tomorrow. No buts. Just let it all drop. Don’t pick it back up again. You don’t need it.
Now, dear one, open the door:
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Immediately, in the same house where the snake was slithering only moments before, I was surrounded by a sweetness so light I felt as though I was lifting off the ground. I was afraid to move lest I shatter the bubble and the moment drift away. I could feel His tangible Presence in the room, holding me up, high above the clutter of fear and anger I’d let drop from my hands.
I was with Peace.
In the wake of the Egyptian uprisings, I heard an aged professor talking on the radio about the miracle of the events there. He had asked an Egyptian man what was the secret of the people's purpose and unity. The man replied, “We have lost our fear.” They were not safe. They were struggling. They were wounded. They had not yet won. But they had abandoned their fear – and when a people are no longer in the grip of fear, the dictator that brought that fear can no longer control them.
The snake wields his power by making us afraid. He wears us down with horrors, puts his hands on the people we love, kicks us when we fall. He twists us up in bitterness and teaches us to shake our fist at God. Sometimes, it seems the only hope we have is hanging on until we arrive in that eternal country where all the sorrow and tears is done away with. But the Incarnation of the Prince of Peace provides a different way: Jesus ripped through the veil that separates and brings the eternal right into the thorns and dust of this broken world.
Eventually, the kids began to wake up, the phone rang, the needs of the day began to stir. The sweet awareness of the Lord's Presence receded into a comfortable, safe confidence. I was reluctant to leave this serene space and enter the fray again. But when I started to move, Peace came with me. And when I stepped into a room and saw a snake-like shadow in the corner, when my hand tightened around anger, and it grabbed at my throat, Peace said steadily, “No, I rule here.” I released my grip again and whispered the words to myself in prayer: "LET the peace of Christ rule in your heart.” As long as I refused to welcome them, the shadows and the darkness would shrink away.
The peace is Christ's but by His grace, I allow it in. By grace, Peace claims His domain in the wilderness of our circumstances and begins to reveal His kingdom - living with us and in us and through us. In this world we have trouble; but that cruel dictator, the snake - though he writhes and threatens and slithers through our lives - has already been defeated through Christ. Now Peace has come to offer his rule.
Which one will we choose?
Letting peace rule begins with surrender. We cannot embrace our new Ruler with our arms full of the old kingdom. Before we can know Peace, we must let go of our claims to anger, hurt, bitterness, self-protection and fear. If you are struggling to release these things, or find yourself still in the grip of fear, I would love to pray with you. Send me an email or leave a comment below.
Part Two next week: The Language of the Peaceable Kingdom
Introduction to this series: Keeping the Peace