A Story for Saturday: "The True Picture of Peace"

The True Picture of Peace

There was a king in a foreign land who ruled well over his realm. All the people loved him. For some reason that we don’t know about the king decided to hold a contest. He made it known throughout the land that all who wanted to should submit their own personal work of art that showed what peace really looked like. Now if one was artistic it would really help with this contest.

So many, many, people from all over the land submitted their works of art.  Finally, the king narrowed it down to two paintings that he really liked. He decided to put them on display for everyone to see before he made his final decision. Now if you were there and saw the first painting, you would have thought it was the perfect picture of peace. There was a beautiful lake that was  perfectly calm, and still. It looked like a mirror. All around the lake there were mountains, lush with green trees, beautiful meadows and dazzling wild flowers.  The sky was a beautiful blue, filled with billowy white clouds, and everything was reflected in the lake. You would have felt quite peaceful and calm just looking at the picture.

Again, if you were there and saw the second picture, you would have said, “Why is it even here?  It is not peaceful at all.”  It had a mountain, but it was rugged and jagged and bare. Down the side of the mountain raged a rushing and roaring waterfall. Up above the artist had painted in an angry sky with dark clouds, lightning flashes, and torrents of rain. Truly it was anything but a peaceful scene.  However, if you looked closely, you would see that the artist had painted in a cave behind the waterfall with one visible wall. And in that wall there was a crack, and from that crack there was a branch growing. On the end of that branch there was a nest. In that nest sat a tiny mother bird caring for her young. You could clearly see that she was totally peaceful and calm, even with the raging waterfall and violent storm.

Which picture do you think the king picked?  Well, it turns out that he picked the second picture. And he explained to everyone why. “I picked this picture because peace is not about having everything just right with no noise, no interruptions, no storms, no troubles, no trials, no sorrows or pains. Peace is all about being in the middle of such things and being calm and at rest on the inside.

The two pictures in the story stand in stark contrast to each other. There is a part of us that would love to live in the paradise of the first picture and never have to contend with the turmoil of the second. But that isn’t life, is it? Life is always a mix of the nice and not so nice. The not so nice, tough things of life have a way of rattling us so that we find ourselves anxious, fearful, and overwhelmed. We are drawn to the idea of being peaceful and calm in the middle of life’s storms, but it is much easier said than done. This is where faith in God comes in. It is helpful to think about faith in God in two ways. First, faith is the assurance that God loves us and is with us in Spirit every moment of every day he gives to us and is always helping us get through the storms of life in the best way possible. In whatever we face, God majors on producing in us a great sense of well-being by providing the peace and comfort of his presence. Second, faith is the assurance that in addition to his being with us in Spirit while we are here, we will be with him forever in Heaven (where there are no storms) someday when he is ready for us and says, “come on home.” These assurances are a great source of peace and comfort for us. May you truly know God’s peace and comfort right now in the middle of whatever you are going through.

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