Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Way of Peace They Have Not Known

My husband is a Jersey Boy. Wait, wait, wait -- don't go! Please don't hold that against him. He grew up surrounded by farmland, and running the dirt roads of South Jersey. He's got a hick side to him, despite the fact we have to remove our shoes in the house and we have a "parlor" -- you know, one of those rooms everyone passes through, but no one is allowed to sit in unless you're entertaining "company." (And the way I was raised, if I've known you more than 15 minutes, you're no longer "company." Good luck ever seeing that parlor.) Scott's response upon his first visit to my home was, "I thought you had a real house." I wasn't offended; in spite of my tenure here in the 'hood, through my veins run rich dark soil, the aroma of horse manure, and endless acres of Indian grass. I knew he meant a house you could run circles 'round. I knew he meant a house that didn't come complete with the sounds of your neighbor in the shower -- or worse. I knew he meant a house with a lot less vertical, a lot less alleyway, and a lot more more.

But, he loves me. And with five children between us, his condo -- yeah, Jersey Boy had a condo -- his condo just wasn't going to cut it; he moved with me to the 'hood. That first year or so was constant chaos. Drama with exes. Adjustments with children. Culture shock. Learning. Countless trips to Goodwill as we combined years of junk from two households. Schedules. Planning, re-planning, and scrapping entire ideas. Remodeling the house and our lives. Least of all, but probably the most common, were Scott's phone calls: "Traffic is backed up; how can I get around it?" or "I'm in the parking lot of X, but I want to get to Y. What's the best way?" He relied on me to show him a new way when he only knew the one he'd been taking all along.

In my devotions, I have begun studying Romans -- currently, chapter 3. Today I came to verses 16 and 17: "Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.”

It wasn't long ago that I was living in the ways of destruction and misery. Granted, I was doing much better than years ago. I wasn't botching everything I touched; I was no longer in self-destruct mode. I was handling things pretty well. Sometimes it only required a little white lie to get what I wanted. Sometimes I only felt a little restless and unsure of how it would all turn out. I only reacted in anger when the situation really warranted it; and I was keeping my sarcasm (mostly) to myself. I have to admit, I was pretty content running that road each and every day.

THEN -- and that's the thing about God: there's always a "then." Someone once said, "God loves us enough to meet us right where we are, but cares too much to leave us there." I've never known that not to be true.

Then, He called me to something more. Forgive me, but I need to be discreet about this; there are others involved in these situations, and I don't wish to seem as though I'm telling tales out of school or regretting where this is all leading. (Truthfully, anything that makes me a better person or draws me closer to God is in no way regrettable to me.) Anyway, let's just say, I was asked to fully embrace someone who had burnt me on numerous occasions. I was also asked to do a favor for someone I thought I could trust, but turned out to be not so trustworthy. I was also called upon to richly bless someone I was pretty certain was not going to return the blessing, or even genuinely appreciate it. (Think God was at work here? Yup.)

Now, if I'd been doing this in my own strength, I would have taken the way I knew to go. Maybe drawn up some sort of ironclad agreement. Maybe prayed for God to show me how to protect myself in all of this. Maybe grabbed up a few witnesses. Maybe not "richly blessed" this family, but given a little more prudently. Maybe simply refused. Nothing wrong with me taking any of those roads, right?

Well, there is when GPS (God's Providence & Strength) is telling me, "Go this way."

"But I don't know that way. I've never been there before."

"Trust Me." God says, "It is the way of peace."

And so it is.

I could have chosen the way I'd always gone, but nothing guarantees I would have gotten back what I put into it; even the best contracts or a dozen witnesses couldn't guarantee I wouldn't get burnt. Relationships would have been destroyed; someone would have been miserable. "Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.”

As I mentioned, these situations have not exactly turned out in a way most accountants or attorneys would favor. But my Heavenly Accountant -- the One who will hold us all to account -- has not only led me down a road I've never known, He has deposited into my account a peace that cannot be bought with any amount of earthly currency. If God is calling you to more, I urge you to go; travel that road. It is the way of peace.
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