Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Shoes of Peace

We can confidently place upon our feet the third piece of armor, the "shoes of peace." Knowing we shall survive, and indeed that Christ shall triumph, allows us to march into battle with inner peace. Significantly, the Roman soldier wore shoes with cleats on the bottom. These gave him an advantage in battle, for his shoes (sandals) would not slip on almost any kind of turf. Paul chose the image of these shoes to suggest we would be assured and secure when we have this peace. Putting on the shoes of peace meant standing sure in the peace of God. Thus Paul wrote that we should "shod {our} feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15). Such genuine inner peace enables us to stand and walk with a sense of assurance that God is not only with us, in us, and guiding us, but on our side, supporting us and cheering us on. Without such peace, the battle looks endless and overwhelming. But with it, one knows, "God is working His plan and I'm part of it. In the end, all will be well." How then does Christ's peace work here? Christ's peace in this war sits enthroned in our hearts and functions like an umpire. When we face decisions about serious matters in our lives, we are often drawn in opposite directions. This is where God's peace becomes most helpful, because God gives us peace when our choice, if done in harmony with the Scriptures, is the correct one. Before I was able to open the session with prayer, my new client Glenn stammered, "I've lost my peace, and I can't find it. Where did it go?" We began to talk about his walk with the Lord, and eventually Glenn concluded, "I think I lost my peace when I become angry with my new neighbor." He explained that shortly after new neighbors moved into the home next to him, the parties began. The neighbors had big Saturday night parties, Glenn explained. They would rent a hot tub and even an outdoor toilet for their guests. Glenn described the scene. "About nine in the evening their friends would start showing up. By midnight fifty or more people would have gathered to drink booze, dance to extremely loud music, shout obscenities, and throw empty beer cans and whiskey bottles into my yard. I tried once to reason with my new neighbor, but all he did was mock me. The next morning all the tires on my truck were slashed." I told Glenn I sympathized with his plight. Certainly he was bearing a hard load. I have known many people with neighbor problems that continued for years with no respite. It's a difficult circumstance to work out. However, I also explained to Glenn that his anger and bitterness offended God and grieved the Holy Spirit. I explained that God in His sovereignty had allowed these people to move next door for reasons He had and that would lead to good. We looked at some passages about loving our neighbors. As Glen began to agree, he saw the wisdom of simply following God's truth in the matter. With head bowed, he chose to forgive his neighbor and those who partied with him. He repented of his anger and bitterness and asked God to take back the ground he had surrendered to the enemy. The peace of God flooded his soul. Now he had a decision to make. How would he respond to his neighbor when the next weekend party erupted? The peace of God directed His steps. Glenn told me later, "The next Saturday evening was party time as usual, but this time God gave my wife and me rest. We slept all night. The next morning I had a song of praise in my heart as I picked up two garbage cans of trash off my lawn. The next week my neighbor's wife was hospitalized. We sent flowers and a sympathy card. I began to smile and wave at my neighbor, and in time he began to wave back. "We would always pray for them as a family. At Christmas time we bought them presents. Last summer his wife gave birth to a little girl. At this time the parties abruptly stopped." As if this wasn't miracle enough, Glenn went on, making me choke up a bit, "Just last week I was able to share the gospel with him. I sensed the Lord was working in his life. He hasn't accepted the Lord yet, but I feel that's coming." Then Glenn himself choked up and said, "But the greatest work is in my life. I have the peace of God that passes understanding." The shoes of peace caused Glenn to become a peacemaker. He is learning to love his neighbor as himself. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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