12/6/21 Devotional from Ed
December 6, 2021
Text: Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Devotional: The Union Seminary, Forest Lake, and Eastminster families have worked on me enough to help me realize it can be OK at times to open up. I am always interested in what's going on in your life, but I've generally had a hard time expressing my true emotions to anyone outside my closest circle. Many of you know this.
This devotional will be an example of me continuing to work on it.
What is the "peace of God?" Paul doesn't really help us here, as his short answer that it "surpasses all understanding" is meant to offer comfort. Does it?
Thanks, Paul, but I'm a human - like to understand why things happen. I'm transactional. If I put something in, I expect something in return. How do I know if I've put enough in to achieve the true "peace of God?"
We don't know. But, I believe that this "peace" exists.
2017 was a year of change for my family and me. In December 2017, I had just finished my first semester of seminary, a large burden on Elizabeth and our boys each Saturday.
More challenging, however, was the declining health of my grandfather, called "Grandfox" by his grandchildren. Grandfox entered hospice this week in December 2017 and died to this life on December 26, 2017.
My two closest seminary friends were the only two friends I told about my grandfather's declining health. I told them to keep it quiet, but one mentioned it to a professor of mine at Union, Jane Rogers Vann. I've told many people this, but Jane Vann can go pro in praying. She is still the most eloquent pray-er I know.
As class ended, Jane mentioned Grandfox entering hospice. She said, "Ed, tell me about your grandfather." Naturally, I wasn't excited to be talking about it, but I can't be offensive to a professor...I needed a decent grade! I did open up a bit, even mentioning his nickname. After I finished, she immediately said the following: "Ed, how cool is it that your grandfather is called "Grandfox?" That meant more to me than anything she said in her prayer that followed. It allowed me to claim my grief and also feel the support (was it peace?) from others. I don't remember anything from the prayer, which I'm ashamed to admit.
It was a reminder to me that comforting someone does not always have to be in the words of prayer. I think we (I) often get worried that we'll say the right thing, make the right casserole, or the prayer won't be as eloquent as needed. We don't know what will give peace to someone. We're not the Holy Spirit. But, we can trust that the Holy Spirit is at work and do what we can to not overthink being a presence. Professor Vann's first instinct to discuss my grandfather's nickname before the prayer gave me the chance to feel a genuine peace.
There is a lot of hurt in our community right now. Eloquent prayers are always nice, but gestures, words, and actions that originate from the heart and out of love can provide peace in unexpected, surprising ways.
Prayer: Dear God, we pray for peace, a peace which surpasses our understanding, this day and beyond. Amen.