It was a sunny spring day. The chill winds, which seemed to have become a constant presence, were stilled for the moment. As I walked to my car, I happened to glance up into the deep blue Colorado sky. There, above me in stark, white contrast was a dove, hurrying as it flew to some unknown destination. It stopped me in my tracks, awakening within me a deep desire to hold on to the moment. I thanked God for allowing me to see this rare sight, yet at the same time, pleaded with Him to bring the bird back around just one more time. The dove, oblivious to my yearning, continued on its course and I watched it until it became a tiny white dot and vanished into the blue.
The hope and peace that rose within me at the sight of that beautiful bird disappeared as quickly as it came. In the ensuing days, I thought a lot about that dove. Since the days of Noah when the dove was released from the ark, it has been known as a symbol of peace. Gone were the rains that had inundated the earth. T he time of God’s judgment was finally over. The dove had returned with an olive branch in its mouth: dry land; God’s peace; a new beginning and a new chance to get it right.
Too often I have found peace — like that elusive dove — difficult to hold on to. The experience awakened within me a number of questions: Jesus does offer us peace, doesn’t He? If so, then why does it often seem to be so fleeting? Why is it that when we struggle and pray and try to do the right thing, we still find ourselves staring up into the sky with more questions than answers? The answer to my questions would come, but not quite in the way I expected.
Several days later, my co-workers and I were hit with the devastating news that our co-worker and friend, Jayne, had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. It was a complete shock to all of us. Jayne was an avid biker. She was an example to us all in the care she took to eat healthy and exercise. She was the same age as me. Jayne’s death caused each one of us to face the reality of our own mortality. The truth of the matter is that life is quite fragile and so are we, and none of us knows what tomorrow might bring.
Let me tell you a little bit about my friend Jayne. Jayne was one of the most gracious women I have ever met. Jayne was a strong woman who possessed what I can best describe as a natural elegance. Jayne loved Jesus. Just after Easter, she forwarded to me what happened to be the final email I would receive from her. It was about the resurrection and finished work of Christ. Jayne had attended the Easter service at her church the week before, had been quite touched by it, and had spoken of her desire to attend more regularly. Looking back, it appears that the Lord was preparing her (and perhaps us) for what was to come.
Peace is like a dove. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit came down to earth in the form of a dove, joining with Christ to transform our world. 2nd Corinthians 1: 21 & 22 is a great reassurance for us: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Jayne had His Spirit within, and the peace that came from knowing her life was in His hands. I have that peace — and so do you if you know Christ as your savior. Jesus told us, “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.” (John 14:27) God’s peace is different from the peace that the world has to offer. It is not dependent upon our feelings, and it is unshakeable, no matter what the world throws at us.
Facing the present difficulties and the questions the dove evoked in me caused me to recognize the truth about the peace of God. His peace is not fleeting and momentary like that elusive dove. No — God’s peace comes through His Holy Spirit, who indwells those of us who call upon His name; His constant presence whispers to our longing hearts the truth about His abiding, continuous love toward us; He continually reminds us of His rock-solid promise of deliverance. Storm clouds gathering? Peace. Valley of the shadow? Peace. Shaken foundations? Peace.