“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NIV
The very term surfaces a lot of frustration for the nobodies of our culture. You try to talk to someone “important” and they have all of these people who run interference, filter your message, and otherwise do what they can to keep you from getting to the big guy, because, after all, he is important and you are not, and those self-important gatekeepers consider it their job to protect the highly valuable boss.
Change the imagery now. You have a vast ocean which is host to sundry storms. An atmospheric condition or an underwater earthquake can each release massive waves 1,000 miles away which travel relentlessly toward shore where their power is dissipated with some degree of violence.
But when those waves arrive at a populated coast, they generally expend their violence against a pile of rocks strategically placed there by engineers. Inside the breakwater, a billion dollars of nautical pleasure rocks gently at their sundry moorings, unperturbed by the aquatic violence a hundred yards away.
My first home.
Well, not quite my first, but the first one I was old enough to remember! It was in Icoaraci, was perched on the edge of a large hill, and was built of bricks (big, structural, Brazilian bricks — not these cutesy, cosmetic, imitation bricks they stick on the outside of American houses).
I loved being in that house when it rained. We would sometimes get an inch and a half of rain in about half an hour. You could not see the trees a few feet outside the window. The wind was intense and the violence of the trees outside added to the din.
Revisiting that picture of a three year old watching the storm out the window surfaces a deep sense of peace in me, even today, 50 years after I left that home. The building was solid. I cannot remember any storm ever damaging even one roofing tile. The trees were just far enough away that nothing could fall on the house. The hillside allowed for rapid water runoff and there was never a question of flooding.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the violence outside from my place of consummate safety in the house that Dad designed and built.
Peace that guards.
Blend those three pictures into a picture of Balmoral. There is commotion in the natural world and the spiritual world. Violence and instability vie with each other for the spotlight. Fear wrestles with anger for their place on the stage.
As you drive through the countryside headed to Balmoral, the graffiti assaults you with the reality of lawlessness lurking around every corner. The billboards scream political conflict, the prices at the gas pumps assure you of the speedy deterioration of the economy, the nuclear power plant reminds you that you exist moments from death at any time, and the fear mongers on the evening news add toxicity to your turmoil.
And then you cross the boundary into Balmoral.
Your world changes.
Suddenly, you have the freedom to define your own emotional climate because peace is the gatekeeper of the city and nothing gets past her.
The reality outside the city is still grim, but it does not have the right or the power to intrude and define your emotional climate while you are in the city.
Imagine the incomparable privilege of being able to define your own emotional climate.
Tonight will be an evening of tranquility as you walk in the early moonlight and savor the artistry of the shadows created by the reflector of the sun.
Tomorrow will be a romantic evening as you court your wife once again.
The next day will be a time of joy as the kids return and the house is filled with shouts of pleasure over the antics of the grandkids on the recent vacation.
And the following day is a day for deep meditation on the spiritual treasures of the week.
For most of us, that is somewhere between a dream and a fantasy. Our plans are too often invaded and violated with impunity by the emotional whipsaw of life’s vagaries, and we end up reacting instead of living out our desires.
But this kind of peaceful city could be. God clearly offered this as a resource we could abound in. How could peace be such a fantastic gatekeeper, a firewall or virus protection program for our thoughts and emotions?
I have no clue. In fact, the verse says we can’t understand how.
So instead, we will just savor the picture.
Father of peace, we say yes and amen. Let it be. Let Balmoral be the definition on planet earth of a place where our thoughts do not pursue us because peace is the gatekeeper.
Copyright September 2011 by Arthur Burk
Sapphire Leadership Group, Inc.