I kind of laugh when I hear people talk about “peace on earth” as if Jesus came in order to abolish all conflict here on earth. The Bible does not teach that this side of his second coming. No, the peace Jesus brought was a peace that comes in our hearts when we are in a right relationship with God. It’s a feeling of contentment and calmness because we know the end of the story even in the midst of terrible storms. It’s peace that comes from childlike trust in a Father who will do what he says he will do.
Many of us have been let down by our earthly fathers. Some of us have been physically hurt, some abandoned, some made to feel small and insignificant, some forgotten. We have scars. And we take Father’s Day as we would take a bitter pill.
Today I am remembering my dad. He was not a perfect man. He did and said many things that he asked forgiveness for. And thank God he was given the opportunity to set things right with all of the people he loved before he left this earth. I know people who were not as lucky. People who did not get to rectify and settle the issues they had with their fathers.
But no matter how stupid, mean, nasty, or lame our dads were, there is something about having a parent that we desperately want everything to be right. We want peace. Sometimes our anger and hurt gets in the way. Sometimes they just keep disappointing.
At one point in my relationship with my parents, I had to shift my expectations. I had to accept who they were and not expect anything more. When I got that settled in my heart, I had a much easier time with forgiveness and I could let go of the hurt. They were human and humans make mistakes.
I think that is sometimes why people are afraid to trust God. They are afraid He is going to let them down just like their own dads did. The one person who was supposed to be there no matter what…
As much as it is healthy, right, and mature to realize your dad was human and would make mistakes…it is also healthy, right, and mature (and biblical) to realize that sometimes we need to shift our expectations of God too. What does God actually promise us?
So many people are angry at God because they have toil, suffering, strife, and conflict in their lives. Much of it, mind you, is brought on by their own doing. God did not promise to rescue us from our mistakes by removing all consequences. God did not promise a life of pure and utter happiness. He did not promise to remove all pain and evil from the world.
Almost everywhere Jesus went there was conflict. He was not one to smooth things over in order to keep the peace. He was a truth teller and he challenged wrong-hearted people everywhere he went with grace, and love for them. He didn’t do it just to cause trouble. He did it to show people the true nature of their hearts. To show them that they had a need for peace that can only come from forgiveness of sin. To show everyone their need for Him.
On this Father’s Day I woke up, got dressed for church and went there alone. I listened to a great message that stirred my heart. Caused me to think about who I really want to be in light of who I know God wants me to be. And it made me feel so very grateful that I have a Father in heaven who loves me enough to give me such wisdom if I will only read it, hear it, and obey it.
In a very tangible and practical way, God pulled me up by my bootstraps today just like a father should and showed me how loved I was. He saved me from myself. Again.
He put peace in my heart and in the midst of emotional twists and turns, he set me right where I needed to be.