It is in that inner peace and stillness that things begin to happen, and it was in that peace and stillness that I began to hear God’s voice. -Eileen Caddy
I just finished watching Sleepless in Seattle for the umpteenth million time. What is is about that movie and others like it that keep me coming back time and time again? I don’t even have to see the beginning. I can walk in at any point in the movie and want to watch it to the end…even if the end is only moments away.
The movie begins with an ending…the death of Sam and Jonah’s wife/mother. Then we watch as Sam and Jonah learn to cope her death and their lives without her. And finally, they meet Annie and they stroll off hand in hand, into the sunset (well, in this case, the elevator of the Empire State Building).
Fiction is nice, bur it doesn’t bear much resemblance to real life. To go from death to happily ever after in two hours, including commercials, is amazing! Of course, in the story, it takes much longer than two hours…but, via the magic of the camera, it appears to happen in a short period of time. It’s only natural we are drawn to movies like this…make the hurt go away…as soon as possible. Even though we know in the back of our minds it doesn’t work like that…it’s nice to think that it could.
When my brother died, it turned my world upside down. Not for two hours, or two weeks. No, for the next two years, I moved through life in a fog. I could make out images of people and hear snippets of conversations, but it was as though I were looking at life through thin veil.
As I started to get my life back together, something strange began to happen. God began putting opportunities in front of me to share my experience with others. At first, I resisted. I mean, why rip off the band-aid when the wound was just starting to heal?
But the more I resisted, the more I felt God urging me to share. So, at last, I did. The first time I told my story was at an Emmaus gathering. If you have never heard of Walk to Emmaus, catch me on my email…I’d love to share more. For now, let me say it was a wonderful 72 hour walk with Christ.
So, for some strange reason, I can only call a God thing, I volunteered to give a witness talk at a gathering soon after I attended a Walk to Emmaus weekend. To those of you who know me now, this might not seem like such a big deal. I mean, I love an opportunity to speak about my faith, no matter what size the audience is…but back then was a different story. To speak in public was terrifying to me…even making announcements in church required a written script which I did not stray from nor look up from. So you see, volunteering to speak in front of a crowd was a huge deal at the time.
I fussed and fretted over what I was going to say. I literally made my sick several times when I sat down to try to work on it. When the day came that I was to speak, I was so ill, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it. And the thought of letting someone down didn’t make the situation any better.
Jim knew how stressed out I was…he suggested I put aside what I was working on and take a nice long bath and try to relax. (How well this man knows me!) I was just getting comfortable, just relaxing in the lovely hot water when it hit me…the reason I was struggling so much was that I was struggling with God. Once again, God was calling me to share about my brother’s death, and I had written my talk about everything but that. I started to shake…I started thinking of excuses. I looked for a place to hide…but, where can you hide when you’re sitting in your birthday suit, soaking wet?
I knew I had to give in…I’d been in that place with God before…in fact, that’s what he wanted me to speak about. So I said, outloud in a shaky voice, “I will say what you want me to.”
Peace…instant peace. Why is that? I hadn’t given my talk…in fact, it wasn’t even written. But at the point where I surrendered, I was at peace. Isn’t that amazing! That peace was what I needed to have the courage to speak…obedience was what God required to give me that peace.
As I think again about the people in the movie…wasn’t that what they were searching for…peace? Not happiness, not a momentary joy. No, they had those…but peace is what I saw on each of their faces at the end of that movie. And I think that’s what draws me to watch it, even if I only catch the final scene.
We all need peace in our lives. We all have trials and problems in our lives, many that are beyond our control. But peace is something we all can have no matter our situation or circumstances. It can’t be taken from us. It’s not a worldly possession that can be taxed, repossessed, stolen. It is ours if we dare to reach for it. In order to receive it, we must go to the only one who can give it.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.