Among Jesus’ parting words to his disciples before his Ascension were; Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. Peace is my gift to you. The big question is just how do we keep our hearts from being troubled in troubled times. For the last few months of her life my mother who was 84 went into a nursing home. There she fell madly in love with an old seaman of her own age. They had grown up in the same area; their families knew each other but they had never met. It was a lovely relationship with lots in common and I remained friends with this man after my mothers passing that had left him heartbroken.
In his earlier life he had crossed the Atlantic on a regular basis during WWII. Each voyage was perilous, submarines were always looking for targets and they usually traveled in convoys with destroyer escort.
He told me one story from 1942 when his ship was again on an Atlantic crossing. The war was at its height and they were carrying huge Sherman tanks each weighing twenty or thirty tons. In the middle of a big storm several of these monsters broke loose. As the ship would roll and toss these would slide from bulkhead to bulkhead just shaking the ship apart. They had to pull out of the convoy and head into the sea while the seamen went below to try and secure the tanks. Finally after riding them like cowboys and trying to hook on cables they eventually got the tanks lashed down. What he learned from that incident was that the real danger to the ship came not from the storm on the outside or even the submarines but from the disturbance on the inside. To handle what is happening externally in our lives we need to be battered down from within. That means really taking control of our thoughts because they can sink us faster than any Corona Virus.
This was so true for many of the soldiers who returned from the war having been victorious over Hitler they lost the battle against their own thoughts.
The particular night that Jesus offered his peace to his disciple was quite remarkable because his whole world was tumbling and everything was in turmoil around him. Judas was betraying him, Peter was denying him, and the other disciples were ready to take to their heels. He was about to be arrested and he knew all that awaited him in terms of the suffering that the next few days would bring. Yet he spoke of offering them his peace at that very time. The difference between an enlightened person and an ordinary person is that the enlightened one is at peace all the time while the ordinary one is just some of the time.
Many years ago there was a furious storm where a ship was wrecked. The only survivor was a boy who was swept by a wave onto a rock. There he sat all night long until the next morning he was spotted and rescued. Someone asked him later if he was terrified. He replied ‘I trembled and shook with fear and cold all night but the rock didn’t.’ Ultimately Christ is the everlasting Rock the Prince of Peace.
Almost everyone can find some excuse for not being at peace, some worry or trouble, a problem or fear, someone or something that’s a bother to us. The list is endless.
I invite you to close your eyes and use your imagination for a few moments and think of yourself as blowing up a big balloon. Be aware of whatever is the most pressing need of your life right now, your greatest concern, what it is that could so easily lead you down the cul-de-sac of worry. With your breath just blow all those intentions into the balloon. Now take a string and tie a knot and see the balloon float with all your worries inside. Next and this is the crucial bit, release the string and allow the balloon to float upwards and say to yourself that is no longer any of my business.
Should the situation come back to mind as it undoubtedly will, think only of a positive answer. It’s now part of the divine plan that unfolds only according to the laws of love. Let yourself become detached from the outcome as to how and when your prayer will be answered. That place of holy indifference is also the very best place for the Lord to surprise us with his answers.
In the meantime remember that the Lord is the everlasting rock and he will keep in his perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on him.