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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Make peace, not war

I suppose one of the most difficult things in this life is the exercise of wisdom in our daily lives.  Wisdom often flies right out the window whenever we are faced with the "fun" thing to do, or that which appeals more to our emotions than the other that offers itself as an alternative.  Why is that?  I think it is twofold - we want to be "happy", so we just do whatever we think will make us "happy"; and we want the easiest way, because the way of wisdom may just be a little more demanding than the easiest!  We are so caught up in what we think will make us "happy" and this pursuit often gives us the greatest challenge in life.  If you don't believe me, when was the last time you could actually say something you did, bought, or found made you truly "happy"?  How long did that emotional "high" last?  My sister asked me last night where I'd live if I didn't live in Arizona.  I had to ponder that one because there has never been any real desire for me to leave Arizona.  I am quite settled here and I guess I just didn't ever think about where'd I would live if this was not an alternative.  I have seen some beautiful country in my life from the frozen landscape of the Alaskan frontier, to the lush green of the Tennessee foothills.  I have even explored the beauty of the Caribbean islands.  Nothing really enticed me to move!  Why? I don't seek happiness in a location, but in a relationship.  The relationships I have right here are the best ones for me - my kids, grandkids, mom, and of course, my BFF!  So many times we get the cart before the horse - looking for "happiness" (that elusive emotional high) instead of looking for "contentment" (the lasting peace of a deep relationship).  

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and to do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. People who work for peace in a peaceful way get the blessings that come from right living. (James 3:17-18 ERV)

I think this is why we struggle so much with embracing wisdom into our lives and allowing it to affect our daily decisions.  We get into the realm of thinking wisdom is a "thing" and we forget it is a person (Christ Jesus).  When we think of it that way, we are challenged to enter into "relationship" with wisdom, not just make it a casual "fling".  God wants us to be in deep, personal relationship with him - period!  Nothing else will satisfy quite like this depth of relationship - all other pursuits and attainments are fleeting.  Wisdom is entered into as we enter into relationship with Jesus - his life meshing with ours until we become one with him.  When this happens, we begin to take on the characteristics of the one we are in relationship with.  It never ceases to amaze me when my BFF and I will come to work dressed in the same colors, finish each other's sentences with "I was just going to say that", and anticipate each other's needs.  We are close enough that this comes rather "naturally" to us - like water running downhill, we have found our course together, and we just go with the flow!

Wisdom comes in much the same way for those who enter into close relationship with Jesus - they just find themselves doing what comes by the "new nature" within them.  Instead of pursuing all those things which come in fleeting moments of "happiness", we settle into what gives us deep and true contentment.  God's peace settles into our soul - making us alive and vibrant in the beauty of his grace.  His grace brings a "washing" of our soul - a cleansing of our mind, will, and emotions until we find ourselves made "pure" and whole. That which is pure is without any admixture - there doesn't need to be anything "added" because what exists is perfect!  This is the beauty of God's grace - it makes our soul "perfect" - maybe not without struggles and challenges, but restful and at peace.  This goes a long way in helping us see struggles and challenges in their true light - rather than being all wigged-out by them!

Then we begin to operate on a whole different "plane" than ever before - for purity has a different form of expression in our lives than the impurity of sin was capable of producing.  Our emotions stabilize, bringing more predictable and better "managed" responses to situations we may have seen as "issues" before. We begin to understand the joy of peace and the beauty of gentleness.  God's grace doesn't come in like a bull in a china shop - but as a peaceful, settling, and life-giving flow of mercy.  We learn to settle into peace - allowing peace to settle us first, then to become the mode by which life's relationships are operating within.  This is one reason we must have the right focus on wisdom - as a person we enter into relationship with, not as a thing we might attain through some series of steps.  Wisdom embraces us - mind, body, and spirit. In so doing, we begin to operate in a peaceful way of living.  If we want peace in this world, it begins not with the cessation of war, but the embracing of Christ! Just sayin!