The Search for Peace

By:  Rev. Glenna Manning

Last week I accompanied our daughter to an appointment in St. Louis.  Traveling north, we spent the night in Paducah, KY then on the following morning made the additional 2.5 hour trip on to St. Louis.  Following the appointment we headed south for the 8-hour trip home.  As we traveled we listened to the streaming broadcast of the Weather Channel’s continuous news regarding Hurricane Matthew.  It was a long day, made longer by a traffic jam that reduced traffic to various starts and stops.

When the traffic jam released us to flow freely again, it seemed that every vehicle was attempting to make up for lost time by speeding.  Vehicles began to speed past one another going 85 – 90 mph, following each other at very close distances, and passing continuously.  I felt like I was part of a NASCAR race and found my hands gripping the steering wheel ever tighter, while at the same time listening to impending doom being forecast along the southeast coast to cities and places to which we have traveled and enjoyed vacations.  Needless to say I found myself getting more and more tense, more and more anxious, and felt somehow threatened and vulnerable and longed so much simply for the peace and respite of home.

Upon returning home I continued to watch news of the hurricane, while also catching up on the latest and breaking news regarding our current political situation.  No matter to which political side one leans,  one is overwhelmed with displays of angry and hate-filled words, words of divisiveness, words of distrust, cover-up and conspiracy, words designed to destroy not edify, words of separation instead of unity, words of self instead of concern for others.   Again, I felt myself and our nation feeling threatened and vulnerable; and again, I experienced that longing for peace and respite.

We live in anxious times.  We are affronted with troubling news from around the globe, we are pressed for time to complete all the tasks before us, we experience grave concerns over those we love and care for, and even times meant to be relaxing can be filled with tension and angst.  For example, I find it very hard to relax during each nail-biting UT Football game!!  Even in taking a lovely walk, my steps are being counted . . . am I fit enough??   You get my point. 

Yes, these are anxious times, but then again, when have they not been?  As long as humans have occupied the world, there have been concerns.  Each tribe moved from one area to another looking for suitable land to farm and to find adequate game on which to survive.  Weather conditions have always been outside our control and as long as we live in community, there will be strife and stress among us. 

Jesus knew all about our feelings.  He too knew what it was like to feel anxiousness and concern, which is why He and those Godly-people before him practiced the antidote . . . prayer.  In the New Testament there are over 60 references to Jesus going away to pray.  He knew that to face life on this earth, one had to stay connected to the author and creator of all that is or will ever be.    It is only in life with God that we know the peace and respite that does indeed come from being home–home with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

I have no power over weather, time, politics, health of loved ones, and other outcomes out of my control.  But I am gifted with the power to bring all those anxious thoughts, concerns and feelings to the One who desires to be in relationship with me.  May we all learn the joy and peace that comes from “going to the mountain by ourselves to pray” (Matthew 14:23).   Blessings and Peace,  Glenna