Why do I hate this perfectly lovely picture of Jesus? In a minute.
The world is descending into chaos. My life is chaos. Not just because of the insanity we are all living in, or because I am embroiled in any particular dramas at the moment. Mostly, it’s just because of the nonstop noise that goes on inside my head. I’m always working on about 15 tracks at once. All my life I’ve wondered if there is something wrong with me or if I’m not really saved because I don’t feel that incredible peace that people say comes over them once they give their lives to Christ.
Maybe I’m the only one, but the thing with my brain is it doesn’t let me rest in the moment. When I’m working at my job I’d rather be anywhere else. When I’m doing something else I think I should be catching up on my job. If I’m trying to write, I think I should be doing the laundry, or vacuuming, or making a shopping list, or writing something else. If I’m working in my yard I think I should use the time to get some writing done, or some housework. When I’m out walking with the dogs I’m thinking about my endless list of chores, or fretting about the state of the world, or remembering that kid in grade school who said that really rude thing that one time. It goes on forever. My only respite comes when I get totally absorbed in a project – writing, drawing, praying, digging in the dirt – and that only ever happens after at least 30 minutes of fighting against the voices in my head telling me I should be doing something else.
I just want peace. Not this constant, nagging anxiety.
So why do I hate this ubiquitous, horrendous, awful, stinking excuse for a painting that I have hated since I was seven years old? Well, not only did they make Jesus a woman with a beard, with those overly effeminate features, and make him whiter than a lily and nothing like a first century Jew, but most of all they gave him the worst expression. Maybe it is supposed to demonstrate the peace of Christ, but all I see is a simpering blankness. A dead-eyed stare that reminds me more of the devil than of Jesus.
Being a Christian is hard work. We’re attacked in one way or another almost every day. Not just the actual persecution that heroic Christians face in places like North Korea, China, Pakistan and Iran, but everyday torments like the nonstop noise in my head. Or petty little nothings that go wrong and make you blow your stack and curse like a sailor and break things. The constant temptations to become either a Pharisee or a flaming hypocrite. Wanting to be like Jesus more than anything, to know and live and most of all SHARE his peace, but to blow it every single freaking day of your miserable life. To be a Martha when you just want to be a Mary.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE . . . (Gal 5:2)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
And the PEACE of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
The Lord blesses his people with PEACE. (Psalm 29:11)
You [God] will keep in perfect PEACE those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
PEACE I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
These verses can give me more anxiety than peace. “Oh my god! I don’t feel peaceful! I’m a bad Christian! Maybe I’m not even a Christian at all! Oh Noooooooooooo!”
Yet, underneath the Hot Mess soup that is my life, there IS something. I don’t have “peace” like someone in a lotus positioning chanting “Om” and feeling their oneness with the universe. But there is a knowing, deep within me. An understanding that God is true and trustworthy. His word is trustworthy. He’s proven that time and time again in history and also in my own life. Things are going to pan out the way the Bible says so. We may be living in the last days right now, which is terrifying (because a LOT of bad stuff is going to happen in those days even if the pre-Trib position is true), but also comforting because we know that Christ wins in the end. And if I don’t ever get that feeling of utter calm and tranquility in this world, I will one day. So there is a peace in that, an undercurrent of real peace and calm that is always there even though the river is raging above.
Anyway, this started out to be an explanation of why I’ve been all over the place and not going through the NT the way I said I would way back in January. But I’m working on getting more focused and tomorrow I am going to dive headfirst into the Gospel of John.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved….Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13)