Peace

Today in my walk through the woods with the doggies, I pondered a question posed to me, “How can there ever be peace”, in reference to the chaos which has beset my life as of late. Peace is of course a good thing, something that should be sought by everyone. I even had a wise pastor one time give the advise to “seek after peace” when trying to figure out how to handle difficult situations. So I’ve been thinking about that lately and it is a bit of a continuation of my previous revelation on faith and taking on life’s hard problems.

The answer lies in determining what exactly is peace… Some people’s lives have the appearance of peace, good jobs, nice looking families, nice homes and stable lives. I once had this, nice house in a beautiful subdivision near Denver. Looked great, but it was far from peaceful. A bully for a boss at work, rich neighbors fighting over everything imaginable, home owners association constantly harassing people. For about a year towards the end of that mess I couldn’t sleep… As I lay there in the dark, in my mind all I could see was the bleakness of a cubicle and a workstation, something that after 30 years had become more of a prison than an office. I would lie awake staring into the darkness, wondering if there really was going to be a Heaven, and if I was ever going to get to do any of the things I really wanted to do. 50 pounds overweight, suffering from chest pains and wondering if I was going to die in that cubicle. During the day in the cubicle it felt like I was going to die. Every time I sat down at the computer my heart rate would start to climb, I would start to sweat and finally I would run out of the room and walk around the little pond in the office complex, only to sit back down and repeat the scenario.

Obviously this is not a sustainable situation and I finally just turned in my resignation. We had a few side businesses that were sustaining us before I got that position and we decided to work harder on those to get by. Unfortunately, the crash of 2008 came along and the music stopped. The short story is, we wound up in the mountains, right where I wanted to be anyway 🙂

Now I don’t have the stability of the nice home and big job, but I sleep like a baby at night. In the daytime I see the magnificence of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, wildlife, and breath the fresh mountain air. But my life doesn’t have the appearance of peace. In doing God’s will for me I have stepped into chaos and conflict with some seriously low life people in my neighborhood. You can’t plant the Cross on a hill of demons and expect to find the peace that the world recognizes and pursues. Yet I look forward to every day and sleep like a baby at night.

So what is peace?

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace is between a man and his God, knowing that you are on the path He has set forth for you. Knowing that He is there in the midst of the storm. Knowing that all He has to do is say to the storm “Peace be still.”, and the storm will have no choice but to obey. The answer to the question is that peace is from within, not from without.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

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Alone

Alone is a funny thing, it isn’t always the same. I’ve never had a problem with being alone, I’m at peace with myself and it is what it is. With that type of alone you can just head out into the woods and experience the comfort of nature, or you can head across the street to the bar where there are other people who are alone and then you aren’t alone anymore. More than likely there will be someone to get into a conversation with and if you need to kill a couple of hours, a couple beers and some strangers will do the trick. This is one step up from alone and destitute, where you are cold and hungry, existing completely outside the comfort and shelter of normal society and in actual danger of not surviving, someone who has no close friends or relatives and has gone homeless for example.

A third kind of alone is not as easy, it is the alone that you experience when you are with people you know but don’t have a close relationship. For example, casual friends from church or work but not a spouse, parents, siblings or girl or boyfriend. Many times, when you are with those type of people they are with someone who they are in a close relationship and have invited you along to join them in a dinner or event of some kind. This too can alleviate the most intense feelings of loneliness for a time, but even though you are with people you know there is the feeling that you are an outsider and you can’t really shake that knowledge. So in many ways, being alone alone and alone with other people at the bar who are alone is better than this alone with acquaintances feeling.

Over the holiday weekend I discovered a fourth kind of alone, in addition to the first three levels of alone. I had plenty of invites for Thanksgiving dinner so there was no danger of spending the day alone alone at the bar, or hungry and destitute alone in fear for my life. I have to say however, it was the most intense feeling of alone I have ever experienced. The kind of alone that makes it easy to understand how the holidays have become the most prevalent time of year for suicides. It is an involuntary alone, an alone that comes with a longing to be with someone but for some reason circumstances have prevented it. I call this one exiled alone, an alone where you have been shoved aside or left behind. For example, the death of a loved one, insurmountable distance, divorce, rejection even perhaps the time or distance put out of reach by a demanding job. This kind of alone can be intensified by sadness, anger, bitterness and jealousy. It is the worst kind of alone of all, an alone accompanied by a crushing, suffocating and unrelenting pain in the chest, pain that no worldly comfort seems to be able to relieve. At least with destitute alone there may be a church or shelter available to give you food and blankets, but with exiled alone no one can help, there are no words to make it better, no one can say or do anything to comfort this level of alone save maybe God Himself. With this type of alone, for someone without strong faith in his Savior, alone all too often results in another sad holiday statistic.

For anyone who may be reading this, I have these words of comfort from the words of God to the prophet Isaiah “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”. In these times remember the promise of our Savior “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”. Even in the times when we are most alone, we are never truly alone because the One who is forever is always at our side, in good times and bad, poverty and prosperity, when times are easy and when times are hard.

The Gift

As I have been going about the business of moving on I have also been stopping in at all the places Tricia liked to make sure everyone has been informed of the sad news. In doing so I have been continually astonished at the effect her life, her suffering and her passing have had on all those who came in contact with her.

Everyone who knew her was impressed by her faith, perseverance, hope and joy. Her Christian friends say that she taught them how to be a Christian, how to believe and hope when it looked as if there was no hope. Her non Christian friends remember her big smile and thumbs up trademark that were never dampened by her suffering and never subject to her circumstances. It is apparent from the looks on their faces and in their eyes that they know that her spirit was being carried by a force greater than anything this world could throw at her.

Her life and her death have changed people. Her friends see the world differently now. Many have commented that they now regard their own problems as small and I can quote many as saying “When I think of my problems I think of you and it makes my problems seem like nothing.”.

So the gift she left us is the gift of faith, an ability to look beyond the problems of the day and to something greater. A closer connection to the life beyond and a closer bond with everyone who participated, from the one who opened a door for the wheelchair to the one who came and sat with her in our home, to those who took timeout to call or email and pray and to those who were able to help out financially. And most of all to our church family who provided the solid rock to stand on when everything else was being shaken.