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.
Last term, to make the way we relate to the different weeks a little more positive, Siân and I named the weeks by different fruits of the spirit. This term, the weeks are named after ‘the armour of God’, which can be found in Ephesians 6.
Rachel – our feet can walk the road ahead with peace because Jesus has walked there before us
A week ago Sunday I had a conversation with someone who was pretty concerned on my behalf that in a few months time I will be sitting final exams at Cambridge: a couple of weeks of exams nicknamed ‘finals’ because they will decide the grade I get for my degree in its entirety. I think we were both surprised that I did not share this concern, and as I walked home I tried to figure out why I wasn’t worried. It just hadn’t really occurred to me that I would be stressed, but at the same time I couldn’t place exactly why this was the case.
I then had the thought, very simply, that it’s because I don’t think Jesus is stressed by my finals. It’s not that they are not important or that I shouldn’t work towards them, it’s just that Jesus isn’t anxious.
This thought has proven really helpful this week as I think about what it is to have ‘feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’: the gospel of peace does not make my life less busy. But it does make it possible for a busy life not to be matched by a busy heart. And this makes me ready for all that life brings.
This week I came across the following quote from the comedian Robert Webb:
“One way to imagine life is a competition between love and death. Death always wins, of course, but love makes its victory a hollow one.”
I understand his perspective, but I am also thankful that the gospel offers a more hopeful one. One where love wins. One where death is not made hollow by love, because love hollows out death itself.
And it is this love, expressed through Jesus and told to us in the gospel, that grants peace. It is love that wins, and nothing can separate us from that love. So in all the busyness and struggles and hardship and grief that life can bring, our feet are fitted with readiness.
Readiness because there is no part of the road ahead that Jesus hasn’t already walked. He has walked through busyness and struggles and hardship and grief and even death. He has made the way ahead clear. We can have peace because Jesus walks with us as we go, has modelled the way ahead perfectly, and gives us an answer for the end of the road when it comes.
And praise the Lord, because this gives me confidence that Jesus probs isn’t stressed by the road sign that says ‘Finals – 4 months’ that I can see right now!
I fit my feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Reflect – some questions to ask yourself:
- When were you most at peace? What were the factors that contributed to this peace?
- What was the longest period of time in your life that you experienced peace?
- Do you think lasting peace is possible?
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.