Cambridge terms run for 8 weeks, Thursday-Wednesday, and people here often keep track of where they are in term by marking the fact that we are ‘near the end of Week 1’ etc. There is also the notoriety of the ‘Week 5 blues’ – supposedly because most people are worn out by that point in the term, but find themselves only at the half-way point.
To make the way we relate to the different weeks a little more positive, Siân and I are naming the weeks by a different fruit of the spirit. This is now the end of Week Peace. Here are our reflections.
SIÂN – Peace like a River
This week I have been thinking about it looks like to know Peace in my life, even when the days are busy and long. I have listened to the song ‘It is well with my Soul’ every day this week, letting the music wash over me as I get ready to face the day:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
See, I don’t know how often I wake up and expect sorrow in my day, or the valley of the shadow of death of Psalm 23. I think mostly I expect a day of green pastures and anointing and faithfulness and delight. But while I expect God’s peace, I forget to pray for it.
Why? Because I often think of peace as a consequence, something that happens when all the waves of life have calmed down and I am gently floating on rippling water. I pray that God may be sovereign over the situations that cause the waves, sure – but do not pray for the peace that comes when the waves stop, because I assume that peace is dependent on all of these outside forces.
But we get a God who calmed the storm. A Christ who slept in gale-force winds, utterly and peacefully assured of his safety. And a Holy Spirit inside us which allows us to have God’s peace within us everywhere we go. I don’t have to wait for the world to be still to feel Peace, because it is from God and not from the world.
This is good news. Partly because the world is not looking peaceful right now, and so any earthly peace is fleeting, dependent on the next essay deadline, or interview, or conversation with a friend. But mostly, because God’s Peace is the thing I long for the most. Rest, refuge, stillness, in company with God. Peace is something that God is longing to bless me with, if I would just accept the gift.
“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Rachel – Peace from God’s presence
When I think of peace I think of that moment when you’re holding a crying child in your arms and they suddenly quiet and settle down. I think of their trust as they drift off to sleep in your arms, and I think of the unfolding, beautiful stillness of peace.
The peace of God can give us rest for each and every moment, each individual breath. Because of God, all He is, we can have peace like that of a small child falling asleep. A peace that is lasting, from the Holy Spirit, from God’s being present with us.
If I am not so tired that I go to sleep instantaneously when my head hits the pillow, I find it helpful to thank God that I am able to sleep because of the peace he has given me. I know that I have all that I need, and I know that when I wake up I will wake up with all that I need – for He is with me always.
On Sunday, Elaine preached, and brought to mind what it means that the Lord ‘is my shepherd’. She happened to be speaking on being with, and spending time with, God. And she spoke about this comparison of God with a shepherd as a part of the fact that God is, and wants to be, present with us.
This happens to work really well for me because the Hebrew translation of my name is ‘ewe’, or female sheep. And so reflecting on the fact that ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ has been a really nice thing to be able to do. I am under the care of the Creator, the One who has loved me to the point of giving up the whole world for me, and He is with me still.
This is the lasting source of my peace.
(listen here, 24.12 minutes in, to hear Elaine read Psalm 23)
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord