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 NIV)
The lodge’s screen door squeaked with the pull of my dad’s hand. My feet shuffled in behind my parents. The screen bumped my backside before the door banged against its frame. Pat elbowed her way toward us through pockets of people. Groups mingled, laughing and hugging each other—as if life couldn’t be better.
In the seventeenth month of my divorce proceedings, a family friend, Pat invited my parents and me to her church’s lakeside summer Bible campground.
Seeing everyone seem so put together made me feel as though I didn’t belong; my reluctance to be there started to surface.
I wanted to be released from the emotional and financial drains that sucked the life out of me. My weight had dipped into the double digits and my parents were worried about me. I was worried about me.
We walked to the rows of folding chairs. The smells of musty camp and old wood carried me back to the many summers at camp together with my husband and sons—summers that could no longer happen.
The hard metal seat felt as unmalleable as my life. I was becoming used to hard places and I didn’t know how to rescue myself.
Once the worship team finished, the visiting preacher walked toward the pulpit in his Dockers shirt and khakis, and began speaking about enduring hard times. He didn’t know my story, but God did. At one point, I noticed I had forgotten about the hard chair. He quoted Ephesians 2:14: “For He Himself is our peace…”
After the service, I felt compelled speak to him. I inched closer as the crowds in front of me dispersed.
No longer do I remember the precise details of the sermon, our conversation or even his name. What I do remember is my release of tears and his outpouring of reassurance and wisdom.
A few minutes into our conversation, he asked what was I waiting for. “You can have peace now.”
He must have sensed my look of uncertainty, so he went on. He told me if I think peace will only arrive after the divorce is final, or when my life is free of obstacles, I’ll be waiting a long time.
He tilted his head as he set his eyes on my face. “Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.’ Sharon, in order to have peace, you must first accept it.”
It felt as if he handed me a beautifully wrapped package, asking me to open it.
Weeks earlier, my aunt told me, “God keeps inviting you to His party, but you don’t accept His invitation.”
Later, as I walked up the spongy path to my parents’ parked car, I knew God was walking along beside me all along, trying to get my attention. I lifted the handle and realized I would ride home that day in peace.