Once there was a family of tortoises who decided to go on a picnic. It took them six whole years to prepare for this picnic and finally they were on their way to search for a proper place where to hold this picnic. During their second year of searching they found a good place and then spent about six months to clear it, unpack their picnic-basket and lay out everything. It was then that they realized that they had forgotten to take with them the salt and picnic without salt is a disaster.
After a long discussion who is to return home to bring the salt, the tortoises decided that the youngest should go. Of course the youngest tortoise was pleased at all. She started complaining and whining and crying. At last she accepted on one condition: no one should start eating before she returns. Everyone accepted and the youngest tortoise left.
Three years passed and the youngest tortoise did not return. Then five years, six years and nothing happened. Then in the seventh year the eldest tortoise could not endure the hunger any longer. She declared that she was going to eat and started unwrapping a sandwich. All of a sudden the youngest tortoise comes out from behind a tree yelling: “I knew it! I knew that she won’t last. Now I do not want to go and get the salt. Someone else has to do it!”
Seven years! Seven years of anger, selfishness, suspicion, worry, lack of trust, pretension and anxiety for the tortoises.
Are you one of these tortoises living a frustrated life because there is no peace around you or within you?
True peace comes to us from God and in order to obtain it should not be like the tortoises. I mean to say that we should be people who are ready to accept others, be not detached from the world around us, be ready to surrender in the arms of Jesus, be people of sacrifice, full of compassion, forgiveness, and trust in the Lord.
When the apostles got to know that Jesus was going away, they got distressed and anxious. Jesus, knowing their situation, comforted them by offering them his peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jesus hastens to assure us that his peace is “not as the world gives...”
How does the world give us its peace? It gives it through enforcing its laws, using its power, offering its riches and pleasures. For the world peace means lack of conflict, tension and suffering. Do we enjoy peace in our world?
God gives us his peace by coming to us, loving us and abiding in us. And we can obtain Christ’s peace through humility, surrendering before God, healing, forgiveness, compassion and love. Peace is God’s presence with us.
And in order to enjoy this peace God gives us His Spirit: the Holy Spirit, who will teach us everything, will remind us all that Jesus had taught us, will guide us, will intercede for us and will give us knowledge and wisdom. The Holy Spirit and Peace will become one and the same thing. Where there is God’s Spirit there is also peace. Even if we are passing through suffering and pain, or poverty, hardship and conflict or grieving the loss of a loved one, we still could have Christ’s peace.
Jesus tells us that God gives his peace to those who love him and keep his words, that is obey his commandments. All of us want peace. We want peace in our homes, our relationships, our communities, our world and more than that in our hearts. But are we trying to obtain the peace through the teachings of Jesus? Or do we feel frustrated and disappointed because He demands a lot from us in exchange for his peace?
Jesus tells us: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” In other words, if we are reconciled to God and in a loving relationship with Him, then we will have his peace, and his joy will stay with us forever. When our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity with his will, and when we are loyal to Him, then we will have the peace.
Dear friends, what is bothering you today? Is it your health, your family, your finances, your friends or lack of them, your job or your sins? Do we feel like tortoises? No matter what is bothering us, Jesus offers words of comfort. He gave us his Holy Spirit to help us in our efforts so that we would not be tortoises. We do not have to fear anything? Whenever we are in the midst of darkness or the storms of life, let us turn to Him, and He will offer to us his peace that overcomes all fear and anxiety.
Dear friends, full of love towards God and trusting fully his promises, let us surrender our lives to Him, and He who is always faithful to his promises will fill us with his peace.