In the musical play, Camelot, the queen sings a song that has become my theme song these last few weeks: “Where are the Simple Joys of Maidenhood?” Guinevere’s lament is, of course, about her lack of knights in shining armor who have shown their valor in battle for her or who have jousted for her honor. My lament is a cry for peace.
Our world is a whirlwind of confusion, a tunnel of anger and a madhouse of maniacal media coverage. We are confused about issues that were so simple when I was a child.
When I grew up in the serene forest on a ranch near Heber, Arizona, the peaceful life was interrupted occasionally by the blip of a lost ball game or a fight at the old shack where the Native Americans partied on the weekends. We listened to country music on Rhythm Rendezvous, and we heard the distant rumblings about the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, but we saluted the flag and went to church on Sunday. My dad is a proud veteran of World War II, and my family stands proud to be American.
Back then right was right and wrong was wrong. A lie was a lie, and honor meant the difference between integrity and perjury. Today people lift their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before they decide how to tell their story. Sometimes they simply make up a story and tell it because they want to shape the outcome. Like Machiavelli, they think the “end justifies the means.” Truth does not enter into the equation.
Hamlet’s quandary, “To be or not to be” has become “to fight or not to fight, to eat or not to eat,” or “to believe or not to believe.” We are as the scriptures say, “Tossed about by every wind of doctrine.” The world is flooded with doctrine – political doctrine, health doctrine and educational doctrine – and for every new doctrine, there is a study that contradicts the latest findings of the old doctrine. It’s complete madness! Gone are the days of sitting back and letting life pass you by. In our day and age if you are sitting back, the fast-lane runners going nowhere will plow you down. We simply have too much and appreciate it too little.
Human beings were created to be garden tenders. They were born to notice the rising of the sun and to be aware of its panoramic journey across the sky to nightfall. Man was born to look up to the glittering heavens and wonder about the glory of God, who in his magnificence, created worlds without end. Man was born to notice the changing of the seasons and to plan and plant with the rhythms of the earth. Woman was made to bare and nurture children and to teach them their stewardship over the wondrous gifts to God. Adam and Eve were created equal partners in having dominion over all God’s creations.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to give away all the comforts humanity has given me in its journey from the Garden of Eden. Life is infinitely better than it was thousands of years ago, and I don’t want to go back, but sometimes it’s good to take a deep breath and remember we were not created with an iPod in one ear and a cell phone speaker in the other. We were not created to run like banshees from one unfinishable job to the next.
The game is not how fast we can climb the mountain or how far we can swim upstream or how many toys we can accumulate before we expire. We were created to accomplish something of value to bless humanity.
We were not created to see a million murders or hear the sordid details of sadistic crimes until we become desensitized to the suffering of normal human beings. We were not made to stress over the intrigues of world affairs – real or imagined. We were born to raise and nurture God’s little ones and to hand to future generations a torch of light and hope. How in the world will we do that if we don’t have a plentiful supply of hope and light in our hearts? Where do we turn for peace?
I’ve known it all along, but so many times I forget. The adversary doesn’t want me to spend time thinking and pondering the real issues of life. He sends up smoke screens to cloud my mind, so I will focus on the smoke screen and not the real issues.
For example, I know my relationship with my children is paramount to my happiness, but my child goes to school and gets in a fight with another kid, gets a referral and is almost suspended from school. I take up the fight with all my fury and unleash my well-placed anger on my child, who gets a lot of my attention for the misdeed. I don’t notice that the child has done many good things. The teacher has sent home positive notes, and this is the first referral of the year. I don’t spend my time in quiet conversation about all the wonderful days that passed without a referral. I spend my energy on the one incident that spiked my anger. If I want peace, I must seek peace through praise.
If I practice daily praise in my prayers to God for his mercy, he will shower mercy upon me so that I might, in turn, deal mercifully with my children. My children will learn praise by example and will know what it means to be peaceful because I taught them.
Secondly, I must shut out the noise of the world long enough to tune the receiver of my heart into God’s radio waves. That means I must find a time to ponder and pray without the distractions of my new iPod or cell phone. I must be secluded from the television and the radio long enough to frame a peaceful picture in my mind. That picture will come from my scripture study and prayer, seeking the picture of peace.
That picture is one of Christ in charge of the world. All the terrible things in the world will take place, but He will one day make it right. I just need to prepare myself to be on his side when that time comes. If I can’t change the world, I want to play on the team of someone who can.
Thirdly, silence is really golden, that is cliché, but I am learning to be silent when there is an argument pending. Arguments are tools of the adversary. They stifle peace like water on a candle. I have learned that children don’t come into life pre-programmed to argue. They learn it from modeled behavior. Parents disagree in public, and children learn to disagree with their parents.
Disagreements become arguments, arguments lead to fights, and fights lead to violence or separations. It is a road I don’t want to travel anymore. What is more, I don’t want my posterity to look to me for the source of their excuse for arguing. I don’t want them to say, “Great Grandma Yevet argued with everyone, so it must be all right.”
I am not suggesting that I become a doormat for people to use or a limp rag without opinions. That is not healthy either. There is a way to discuss differences without trying to convince the other party that you are right. I don’t remember one incident in the Bible where Jesus tried to convince his enemies that he had cornered the market of truth. He simply set the example and asked questions to help the Sadducees and Pharisees see the darkness in their own hearts. Listening to understand is much more powerful than listening to help the other person to change.
Let’s go back to the example of Guinevere and her languishing over the loss of her maidenhood champions. Guinevere learned some hard lessons before she realized Camelot was already the place she had always dreamed of. She lost everything in her foolish quest for a fantasy world. Sometimes we climb the wrong ladder looking for solutions to phantom problems. Instead of staying on the ground and paying attention to those who have climbed all the ladders, we have to experiment on our own.
Peace will never be found in the winds of doctrine; it will simply be found in the Prince of Peace and will only be effective when we make our story match his doctrine: “Love one another as I have loved you.” PD