“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” –John 14:27
Most days, I get to take our dog for a his midday walk. It’s not usually a very long one, but especially on those days when I go by myself, I’m grateful for a few moments to be outside and take a few deep breaths without any interruptions.
My dog and I don’t always take the same route, but regardless of where we go or how long we are out, Blaze is eager to sniff everything he can get his nose on. The other day, when I thought for sure he was leading me into a grassy area in order to do his business, it turned out he was just sniffing his whole way through.
This reminded me of something a friend reflected on in college. He said some people, when trying to find their direction in life, decide right away and get to it. Others, he said, are more like a dog who has to check out several places before finding just the right spot to lie down.
Lately I’ve been thinking about this analogy not only in relation to Blaze, but in regards to my thoughts and how wandering they have been. Especially when I think about the words Jesus shares the night before his death in the gospel of John, it’s no wonder that I have a hard time experiencing the peace of God when I I flit from worry to worry or fret about one hypothetical situation after another. In contrast, when I pause and submit those cares to God, that is when I am more able to rest in the abiding presence of Jesus and trust that no matter what happens, God will provide.
This reminds me of how important it is during these days–when so much uncertainty still exists regarding COVID-19, its long-term effects, and what that means for our daily living– to take some time each day to rest in the promise of God’s love and care– for me, and for all of God’s creation. When I do, I’m reminded that I don’t need to carry the burdens of the world on my shoulders; I don’t need to have the answers to the many perplexing questions that linger.
There’s no doubt in my mind that God has given each of us a role in caring for our neighbors and serving those in need, but the truth is that none of us is tasked with taking care of all of it on our own. In John 14, Jesus promises his disciples that he will send them another advocate who will help and guide them. This means that both Jesus and the Spirit continue to be at work in our lives. In John 15, he tells them that it is by staying connected to the vine that they can do the work he has entrusted them to do and that their joy will be complete. He wants them to know that dwelling in his love is what will give the strength they need for all that lies ahead.
Today, Jesus speaks these same promises to us. He invites each of us to draw close to him, to settle back in his loving arms, and in so doing, to experience the peace of God–something only God can give– and that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).