Around 7 p.m. I answered my portable landline phone resting beside the bathtub, because it was 2004 and I had a portable phone and time to take a bath. I chatted with my grandmother for a few minutes, probably about me, and then I asked her how she was. She told me the news. The news that makes you remember what you were doing at exactly the time you discovered that your world would never be the same.
She was dying.
The drugs that were helping her heart were hurting her liver, and she could no longer live with or without them. A heart surgery in 1978 had both extended her life and given her a terminable disease through the transfusion of contaminated blood. She had been living on borrowed time…for over twenty-five years.
“How can I pray for you, Grandmother?” I asked, swallowing my tears.
“Just pray that I keep my peace,” she responded, steady and sure.
She knew she was facing death and that there was nothing she could do to stop it, no medicine that would reverse the damage, no diet that would alter the prognosis. This was it.
And she had her peace.
Her words have never left me.
Before Michael left for military training, I was a wreck. I was dreading his absence and what that meant for all of us. You see, worriers worry that they might begin to worry, even if they aren’t worried now. So, I begged God to be my All in All. I begged Him to be my strength and portion forever. I begged God to make me lean into Him and Him alone. I’m still begging him. I’m completely aware that now that we’re in the Army, plans could change at any moment. While we may think we have one set of plans, new ones could swiftly replace them.
And -shocker- He has heard my prayer. It’s as if I can trust God’s promise that He will draw near to me when I draw near to Him (James 4:8). (Why do these things still surprise me???) These weeks without Michael have NOT been as difficult or unsettling as I had thought they’d be. I haven’t been worried or afraid or frustrated or helpless or hopeless or really even all that tired. I expected to be all those things. But even though my faith was smaller than a tiny little seed, God has heard my plea and given me total peace.
Honestly, it feels like a shiny new toy to me. For an anxious person, this sensation is almost completely foreign to my body. I’ve never really experienced anything like it. It’s almost like I want to put it on a shelf and not let anyone touch it or see it, so that it can be preserved. I just want to keep it…you know? I just want to keep this sense of peace.
So, when a dear, sweet friend asked how she could pray for me last week, my immediate response was:
“If I had one request, it would be that I keep my peace.”
As my grandmother’s words flowed from my mouth, I felt like I really understood her for the very first time. She knew her peace was something special, but she also knew her tendencies. This is where I am. I am in the tension between peace and potential worry. My plan (for the mere illusion of control) is to only manage this day. Why would I worry about tomorrow, doesn’t it have enough worries of its own?
Michael’s safety has always been a concern of mine. But amazingly, I do not worry about him any more now that he’s in the Army than I did when he was a civilian. He used to spend about 12-15 hours a week commuting and the other working hours <connecting? wiring? making? plugging in?> electric cords as big as his leg (details on that job are really unclear to me). My concern about his physical safety remains. But this peace that passes all understanding comes from the God who called him specifically to spend time muddying his boots in the trenches of life and war with our nation’s soldiers.
My mom once told me that there is no safer place to be than in God’s will. It’s not that we are assured physical safety, but perhaps it allows us to keep our sense of peace. The calling to make disciples of all nations is the same for each surrendered life.
For every single one of you stepping into your calling today in classrooms, in cubicles, in retail stores, in pulpits, in hospitals, in courtrooms, in firetrucks, in factories, in constructions sites, in big high rises, in sprawling fields, in trenches, and most especially in your homes, I pray you have your peace. I pray your peace in knowing that God is directing your steps gives you immeasurable strength, power, and purpose. I pray you don’t have to worry about tomorrow because you undoubtedly know Who holds it.
“…Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”