Speak Peace

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Very, very rarely does one verse in Scripture jump off the page and grab hold of me in a compelling way.  To be honest, I tend to read Scripture first by the book, second by the passage because I enjoy watching arguments and narratives unfold across several chapters or even books.However, today in my morning prayer as I read the 85th Psalm, the 8th verse of that great Psalm took hold of me and drove my prayers in a rather unique way.  The verse reads in the NASB,

“I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.”

Over the last three months my life has been characterized by anything but peace.  It has been fraught with hurry and overwhelmed to the point of panic.  Every chore I completed was quickly overshadowed by the next crisis that needs tending.  Sundays have come quicker and quicker and I find myself arriving at church with a heavy heart and a stressed mind.  Anxiety and worry have crept slowly in and taken their toll.

In the meantime I have met, mentored and listened to several in my community whose “homes are broken and torn by strife.”  I carry their burdens in a way that only other pastors would understand.  There are the homeless, the addicted, the abused, the divorced, those diagnosed with cancer and even one house that is possessed by an evil spirit.

In such distress I have barely had time to keep up with world events but I am aware enough to know that peace does not characterize the world right now.  Ukraine is a mess.  Israel and Palestine flirt with peace but neither seems to want it.  Terrorist groups are still terrorizing.  This month they chose 300 girls from a school in Nigeria.  Mentally ill people are still taking their frustration out on the innocent in public places using firearms.  And all the while our politicians are still choosing rhetoric that makes money over governance that yields peace.

Then this morning a great proponent of peace in out time passed away as Maya Angelou breathed her last.

With all this going on, I have personally struggled to get along with people the last few days.  I am exhausted and burdened and with exhaustion comes misplaced anger and great frustration.

But then one morning, like all mornings, I flip my Bible open to the next Psalm in line.  And suddenly Scripture beckons me to “listen to what the LORD God is saying because God is speaking peace to his faithful people.”

Heavenly father, we are listening so speak peace.

Speak peace to my family, my marriage, my children.

Speak peace to my church.

Speak peace in our worship services and to our stressful financial situation.

Speak peace to the broken families who enter our doors.

Speak peace to the strained marriages.

Speak peace to the addictions.

Speak peace to our community and its businesses.

Speak peace to Ukraine.

Speak peace to Pope Francis, President Peres and President Abbas as they meet to pray together.

Speak peace to the schools in our community, the students and teachers and administrators (and even this humble(d) track coach).

Speak peace to our chaos, speak comfort to our distress, speak love to our hate.

We are listening, O Father, please speak peace.  Amen.

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