A sad face, toilet paper emoji awaited me.
A facial expression made out of toilet paper, placed on a roll of toilet paper, so I could not miss it. My daughter left me this creative gift, with a clear message, in a place she knew I would go. The next day I found another gift. Apparently I had redeemed myself in her eyes, as the sad face had now morphed into a smiley face. Children know how to give gifts, where to place them, and exactly how to get their message across to us don’t they?
I am a sucker for unexpected finds, the kind that imply someone thought of you and wanted you to know that they thought of you. Maybe a note of thanks left in the room where guests recently stayed in your home. Maybe a photo printed, framed, and wrapped (of a memory you shared with good friends), given as the trip came to an end. A parting gift; something that says our time together mattered and you matter too.
A parting gift seems to slightly ease the void of leaving good company or having good company leave you. One of my favorite parting gifts is to make a digital photo album of memories made, have it printed and then sent later, as a delayed, parting surprise. Nothing like an in-your-mailbox, something other than junk mail or bills, unexpected kind of gift.
Jesus began preparing the disciples for his departure from this earth, as they knew him, in his human form. He began to explain to them in John 14:25 that the Holy Spirit would be sent to them after his departure. The Spirit would teach them all things and remind them of everything he had said to them.
John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” In others words I’m leaving you with a parting gift and it’s a GOOD one.
The rest of John 14:27 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” This tells me they could rest in the peace of God or they could focus on their surroundings and become troubled and fearful.
They had a choice. We have a choice. Peace is a choice! Who wouldn’t want peace and yet, how often do we unwrap the gifts that God gives and then set them aside, choosing not to activate or use them.
I love the fact that God’s gifts are not comparable to the “world’s gifts”. The world’s gifts start out looking good, morphing gradually into a picture that we did not anticipate or expect. However, because it happens slowly, often times we do not even realize what is happening.
The world says, in general, that peace is the absence of conflict. If that’s the case most of the world does not experience much peace at all. God just straight up tells us the truth and I love that!
You will have conflict and probably a lot of it. So my parting gift to you is a PEACE that is with you whether you are in conflict or not. It’s a confident assurance in any circumstance that God is in control, that he is with us each step of the way, and he’s already gone before us preparing the way.
In others words, we can trust God! No matter if our negative circumstances are displayed on a three story IMAX theater screen, tall and overwhelming, with a state-of-the-art sound system booming, “there is no way you’re getting out of this one”. He’s got our back!
There are all kinds of forces pushing hard, at war within us: sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and more. When we keep our eyes focused on Jesus; when we pray with thanksgiving; when we allow His Word to permeate our hearts – the peace of God moves in, taking up residence. The tremendous power of peace restrains the hostile forces and offers comfort in the place of conflict.
Gifts cost. Maybe they cost time, effort, and creativity, or money or all of the above. Peace is a gift with a great price. Isaiah 53:5 says, “ . . . He was beaten that we might have peace.” Jesus paid the price, he took the punishment that you and I might walk in peace and freedom, today, and everyday.
A gift must be given to be a gift at all. When it’s given, it’s meant to change the one it’s given to. To impact there lives in a positive way. Peace is a gift, have you been changed? The greater the cost, the greater the far reaching effect it has to not only change the recipient, but change those who the recipient influences.
Peace can seem far from our reach at times. Our enemy does not want us to open the gifts that God has bestowed upon us, so he creates barriers that stand tall between us and God’s gifts. Those barriers can take on many forms like hectic schedules, stress, people, sin, and circumstances that keep us occupied.
We must push through the barriers. We must break normal and create space and time to sit in the presence of God; turn the worship music on; take His word and let them become our words; and pray for His peace alone to fill us, taking full ownership of our hearts and minds.
We must break normal and create space and time to sit in the presence of God.
As I pack more and more boxes, living in a bit of temporary chaos. As I continue waiting through back and forth building inspection/home repair negotiations to come to a close. As I manage work; meetings; children out of school for the summer; and preparation for a move. As I manage and wonder about financial obligations. I can’t afford not to take time to open the ultimate parting gift of God’s PEACE. In whatever state your world is in today, will you join me?
On the journey to more,