Let Not Your Heart Be TroubledFr. Barnabas Powell
All too often we spend our lives waiting for that perfect moment when everything is going “right” and all around me is positive and affirming. And, the longer we live, the more disillusioned we become because that “moment” seems to never come!
Oh, to be sure, there are flashes of “just right” in our lives. Those moments when all the traffic lights are green when you’re in a hurry to get some place. The kids get up and get themselves dressed after having let you sleep in on a Saturday morning. Sure, there are times like that. But what about the everyday peace I so long to experience? It just always seems to be just beyond my grasp. And it never fails, things are all rocking along fine and then “boom” out of no where comes an unexpected challenge that throws me off balance and into “panic” mode!
How do we overcome the “Valley and Peak” yo-yo existence that keeps me exhausted and addicted to either despondency or ellation?
Well, perhaps the first step in the escape from that pattern of perpetual up and down in my life is the realization that both of these places; up and down; are simply not real! The truth is every time I’m either “up” or “down” I’m so easily intoxicated with the fantasy that “things will always be this way.” And that simply isn’t true.
In our Gospel Lesson today (John 14:27-15:7), our Lord Jesus gives us particularly helpful insight into keeping our hearts untroubled by the external circumstances that constantly desire to run our lives. Let’s set the scene: The Lord is spending His last days with the Apostles before His crucifixion in Jerusalem. In John 13 He washes the disciples’ feet, and what follows is His teaching them the foundational lessons of how to live His teachings after He’s ascended into heaven. Pretty important stuff to know!
He gives the disciples three insights into keeping their hearts from being “troubled.”
First, He gives them His peace. “My peace I give to you.” John 14:27. The Lord’s peace is informed by both the present and the future. The Lord lives with the sure knowledge of the end of all these troubles being the glory of God and eternal life with the Father. This peace is impregnable against the temporary troubles of passing time.
Next, He promises them His return. “I go away, and I will come to you.” John 14:28. No matter what our present circumstances, our Lord is not leaving us in them, but coming for us. And His return sets all things right. The power of a sure promise gives hope even in the darkest moments, as long as we don’t allow the darkness of a moment to blind us of that promise.
Finally He reveals the Source of their strength. “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. External circumstances are always in flux, and most of the time we have no control over them. But internal peace is always governed by eternal realities. As I learn to allow His strength to shape my internal life, my thoughts, and my choices, my peaceful soul sets me free to be “at peace” no matter the storm raging in my life.
Today, are you a peaceful person? Are your external circumstances, the daily events of everyday life, determining your inner attitude and demeanor? Or is your inner peace allowing you the freedom of clear and focused choices regardless of the events surrounding you? The Lord Jesus has left us His peace to shape our inner life to be calm and peaceful no matter what’s happening to us on the outside and that peace that doesn’t come from any earthly place, sets us free to see clearly, stay focused, and be a source of hope and joy to all around us. This is the life you were meant to have. And you can, but it will require you to abandon the yo-yo existence of waiting for external circumstances to be “just right” before you have “peace.”