Peace, bro.

I’m not a hippie, but I do kinda like them sometimes. I also like soap and deodorant, but that’s for another post on another day. Hippies seem to do a lot of picketing and chanting and sign-carrying … usually with messages about peace & love and such. Jesus had a few things to say about peace, too. Though he apparently didn’t carry signs or drive a VW bus, (or even a VW camel).

“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” (Jn. 14:27).

Ps. 46:10 says, Be still, and know that I am God.” Some translations put it this way … “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” “Be still, cease striving, don’t be afraid, peace I give you, let not your hearts be troubled,” etc. Jesus was always saying stuff like that. It seems like God might be trying to tell us something, doesn’t it? And let’s be honest, don’t we often cry out from deep inside, wishing that God would just talk to us? I know I do. Almost every day I lament to God that I just wish He’d sit down with me and talk … plainly … man to man (or God to man) … face to face. And in my daily ranting and wrangling, I seem to forget that God has spoken to me … very clearly … very succinctly. And what has He said? He’s gently admonished me to cease and desist … to chill out with all the striving, all the wrestling … against Him, against myself, against peace … to let my heart rest and be at peace, to not be afraid. And isn’t that what it’s really all about after all … fear? And if so, then fear of what? Well, speaking for myself, among other things, I think I’m afraid of simply not mattering … of not being validated … of being insignificant … unimportant. (Actually admitting that … and writing it down in plain words … just gave me a cold chill).

You see, Jesus … being God and all, instinctively knew some stuff that we don’t. One thing he knew was that peace is not merely the absence of war and “getting along” with everyone. Another thing he knew was that what makes us worthful (i.e. validated, significant, of importance, etc.) is NOT the things we DO or achieve. He also knew that we’d be ravaged by a very deadly plague … the plague of thinking that we actually do derive our worth from those very things … our achievements and accomplishments. And because of this, he knew we’d be extremely vulnerable, and would likely succumb to a second deadly plague … that of comparing ourselves to others. Let me simply confess that I have suffered from this plague virtually all of my life. And this sickness has robbed me of more joy, more hope, more opportunities, and even more friendships and relationships (and to some degree, possibly even a marriage) than I could possibly quantify in this post … or in 100 more posts.

Is it possible that what Jesus knew was that you and I are significant, worthful, and valuable simply because we ARE … because we EXIST … with no regard whatsoever for anything we might have done … or might ever do? And isn’t it a fact that our default setting is to seek our own peace, (“the kind of peace the world gives,” in Jesus’ words), by way of striving to achieve more, acquire more, succeed more … in order to give ourselves some assurance that we’ll be ok for the long haul, and that we’ll have something tangible to which to point as evidence of our worth and significance? And if we can acquire, achieve, amass, and accumulate more … (more money, more property, more diplomas, more friends, more prestige, more seniority, more popularity, more power, more … whatever) than our neighbor, then we also will have accumulated more peace … and more worth? Jesus intuitively knew that while these things are all inherently good, we’d find that we can never get enough of them, because we would still be vulnerable to this incidious plague of mutual comparison and striving; and he simply says, “guys … STOP!” Stop being afraid that you don’t add up, that you won’t be ok, that you’re not worth enough. And is it possible that he also knew intuitively what we can’t see, which is that God really is God, and He’s good, and infinitely capable, and He actually does love you & me with an immeasurable love that we cannot even begin to fathom, that He actually is paying attention to us, and that He won’t carelessly let us slip through His fingers? Honestly, if I truly knew this … I mean REALLY knew it … my life would be veryvery different. I might actually experience real peace … deep peace … big peace … much too big to fit on a picket sign … or a VW bus.

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8 Responses to Peace, bro.

  1. As always, so very well said.I do not think you are alone in feeling as you do, I believe we all feel like that to some degree. I find your blogs so thought provoking, and read them several times. Keep up the great work.

    • randyneff says:

      Thank you so much, Anita. I’m so glad you’re out there, and I can’t tell you how encouraging it is for me to connect with you and others like you. You’re the reason I do this. Much love & gratitiude to you … always …

  2. Doug Tennant says:

    Randy, friend of my heart. I am continually in awe over your propensity for communicating what so many of us feel and the courage you show in stating what so many of us fear. In this case, that we don’t matter. How true is that? Another very wise and dear friend reminded me some time ago that the very reason God created us was because He was lonely. For that reason alone, why would we not matter? We are made with the inherent desire to know and to be known, to fulfill a relationship to negate loneliness. To have relationships is the reason we exist! But how seldom do we overcome the fear of not being enough to trust each other with our hearts? You are so right, if each of us could just rest in the assurance that we are loved perfectly by the One who loves best of all, how different our lives could be. Thank you, once again!

    PS. If I had grown up a decade earlier, I would have been dropping out and tuning in with the best of them. I may not be a hippie, but I’m pretty Bohemian. :o)

    • randyneff says:

      Doug … thank you so much, my Bohemian friend. It’s really I who am in awe of your kindness and genuineness (if that’s a real word). It’s been a great gift for me to reconnect with you after all these years and over all these miles. You’re a brilliant light shining in the dark … keep shining. And thank you for being my friend. I hope our paths may cross in person some time soon.

  3. Suzy says:

    Right there with ya, Randy! I find it so amazing that we so often (or maybe I can even say, MOST often) define ourselves by our worst moments, or our greatest fears, or our stuck places when God never does. And we (I) also spend a lifetime creating default places that are more in agreement with the enemy of God than believing the Word of God about our lives. My anchor is that God has the last word, but I truly have to continually pray for ears that hear what He alone is saying about me. What a journey, eh? Thanks for living out loud so well…your life REALLY makes a difference.

    • randyneff says:

      Thank you so much, Suzy. It’s been a long road since those days back in Sunday School & youth group, hasn’t it? I’m inspired by you and what you’re doing with your life … and by your kind and generous words of encouragement … and most of all, by your life-long friendship. Much love to you & Larry and your wonderful family. Stay tuned!

  4. Denise Settle says:

    James said we should think of it as joy when we suffer hardships. Paul said he delighted in weaknesses and difficult times. We can feel that way because of just what you have stated here. Our joyand our peace come not from the world or the issues that ocur in it but from the peace that is inside of us that comes from Jesus – his peace – not as the world gives but a peace that passes all understanding. A peace that comes from knowing that God loves us, that we are the apple of His eye, that he knows every hair on our head and that he delights in us. In ME – little, insignificant ME. Praise His name. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. He does love US and we are NOT insignificant. We are precious, “fearfully and wonderfully made” with a purpose and plan for our lives. I think sometimes that we who are “called by his name” are more apt to doubt the value of our life and try to live up to what we think others “expect” of us. What does that do to our testimony that says God is a wonderful and loving God who made us all.

    Thank you sweet friend for sharing the depts of your heart and your godly insight into the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are a treasure. Keep listening to his guiding voice.

    • randyneff says:

      “I think sometimes that we who are “called by his name” are more apt to doubt the value of our life and try to live up to what we think others “expect” of us.” That’s an exerpt from your comments, Denise … and it blew me away … and humbled me, too. Thank you for taking the time, and for adding so much to this process. I’m so thrilled that you’re here. Much love & friendship always.

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