Published on March 23rd, 2013 | by Donovan Westbrooks1
Mixing Chaos & Peace
A Distant Thought
Sometimes Peace seems so distant. It looks miles and miles away from the chaos we are caught in. There are plenty of days when our lives feel like there isn’t any order, when everything is coming unraveled, when we are drowning. Perhaps you have been there too. Maybe you have tried desperately to hold everything together on your own. Maybe you have heard the smallest voice in the back of your mind, saying that you’re losing it, and there’s nothing you can do about it, saying that you can try and try as much as you want, but you’ll keep spiraling down all the same. There may be a chance that at some point your world has crumbled, and you have been left standing in the midst of the rubble. It is in a moment like this that we long for Peace and rest, but feel like they are nowhere to be found, when in reality, this it is in the darkest day that Peace finds its rightful place.
A New Image
Peace is often pictured as a serene lakefront, a spotless dove, a noiseless room. But I propose that Peace should really be seen as standing in the center of a Jackson Pollock painting, motionless, silent, strong. There are blotches of black and flecks of gray. Disorder. Chaos. Stripes of paint flung meaninglessly all around. And Peace in the middle. That’s reality. The dictionary says Peace is “a state of tranquility or quiet” (m-w). Mr. Webster never specifies what’s going on around this state of serenity, merely that there is a place for it to exist.
The Bible says that the Lord will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). That means that Peace is not necessarily the moment after Jesus calmed the storm. No, Peace is Jesus sleeping through the storm (Mark 4). Peace is Elijah standing on Mt. Carmel, surrounded by over 400 of his worst enemies (1 Kings 18). Peace is Mary saying, “let it be to me according to your word,” when she is told that life as she has known it has been completely destroyed by the angel’s announcement (Luke 1). Peace is not David sitting snugly on his throne; it is him crying “the Lord is the one who sustains me,” as he hides from Saul (Psalm 54). Peace is not when everything in our lives is perfect; it is when our castles in the air are falling into the sea of oblivion, and we are able to remember that the Lord is still God.
A Firm Reality
On a supposed “silent night” an angel brought news of Peace on earth and good will toward men. That was 2000 years ago. In a moment the Son of God chose not to stay where He could see the Father clearly, or where the music played perfectly, or even where there was no fear of trouble touching Him. Instead He stepped down into the chaos of the Roman occupation, into the hardship of poverty, into the pain of sin, knowing that God was still in control. I guess that’s what the angel meant when he said: Peace on earth. Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). And today may not feel like a picture of tranquility. But in the middle of the confusion and noise that surrounds us, as Christians we must remember the Peace that we have been given.
Christ has made Peace between us and God. He has provided Peace in our troubled world. He has promised Peace in the world to come. Perfect peace. So when we feel like darkness crowds our mind, when our heart is shattered, when our greatest wish is disappointed, when we have have failed again, when we are all alone, when we are exhausted, when there aren’t any tears left, that is when we can find His Peace. Paul says, “let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7). Peace is not the lack of conflict. It is resting in the knowledge of the Lord in the midst of the chaos.
Artwork: Pollock, Jackson. Cathedral. 1947. Enamel and aluminum paint on canvas; 71 1/2 x 35 1/16 in. (181.6 x 89.2 cm) Dallas Museum of Art.