Summary: Experiencing peace in our lives requires staying connected to the Holy Spirit, God's peaceful presence within us.
Last Sunday afternoon, I left church and headed home. My plan was to get home, feed Owen some lunch, put him down for a nap, and then start working. Well, you know how the saying goes, “The best laid plans…” I pulled out of the parking lot and headed down East Brainerd Road towards home. Owen was asleep before we got to the intersection with Gunbarrel Road. As I drove the rest of the way home, I prayed that he would stay asleep as I moved him from the car to his crib; as much for his sake as for mine. Thankfully he did, and as soon as I got him settled in his room, I changed clothes, made a quick sandwich, and sat down to get some work done. I had responded to just a couple of emails when Ken got in from a meeting he had after church. I gave him instructions to feed Owen when he woke from his nap, and I headed off to exercise at the gym.
Now, I’ll just be up front in telling you that I exercise because I know I need to, not because I particularly enjoy it. So an hour at the gym always feels like work to me. And I went to the gym knowing that I would come back home to still more work to do. By the time I got home, Owen had awakened, but had not yet eaten, so I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and commenced the arduous task of cutting it into tiny, baby bite-sized pieces so he could eat it. I then put together a crock pot dinner for Monday, packed Mary Ellen’s and Owen’s lunches for school the next day, did three loads of laundry, and made dinner. All the while, Owen was following me wherever I went, trying to climb up my leg, and crying for me to hold him every minute that I wasn’t. As you can imagine, or perhaps know from your own experience, it’s hard to do chores with a wriggly baby in one arm. Ken had headed back to church for another activity, and so I had no choice but to simultaneously console Owen and fold laundry, or stir the soup, or whatever. After dinner, I had to bathe Owen and get him through his nighttime routine and in to bed. By the time Ken got home a little after 8, I had been sitting on the couch for a grand total of about 10 minutes. I had quite literally been going non-stop all day, and I was exhausted. I found myself thinking, “Do I really have to be this busy???”
But wait, there’s more! I topped Sunday off with an all day meeting out of town on Monday, and a long day on Tuesday with two morning meetings and one in the evening. I share all this with you not to try to prove anything to you, but because I think this is something we all experience in our lives. Things pile up and we feel like we’re going non-stop; our schedules packed full of meetings, or gatherings, or chores, or projects, or whatever. We barely have time to stop and breathe, but if we do, all we can think is, “This is crazy! Does it really have to be like this? I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off!” Such hustle and bustle in our lives is stressful, isn’t it? Feeling like we are “go, go, go” all the time is part of what keeps us from experiencing real peace in our lives. We get stressed because we are worried something won’t get done, or anxious because we are afraid we won’t have enough time for something else, and it causes us a great deal of strife.
This morning, we return to Jesus’ words to the disciples in the days before his arrest and crucifixion. There is a long segment in John called the “Farewell Discourse.” We heard part of it last week, as we looked at Jesus’ prayer that his followers would be one. That prayer was near the end of the discourse. This passage we heard a few minutes ago is near the beginning of Christ’s “Farewell Discourse.” And here, Christ is speaking directly to his disciples, explaining to them that soon he will no longer be with them. Knowing the anxiety that this might cause these twelve faithful followers, Jesus goes on to explain that they don’t need to be “troubled or afraid” because they will not be alone. The reason they will not be alone, Christ explains, is because the Father is going to send a Companion, an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. “This Companion is the Spirit of Truth,” Jesus says, “whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.”