Erin and I took some time to go kayaking at Cowanesque Lake today during our day off. We enjoyed watching great blue herons, ospreys and bald eagles among other birds, we experienced the joy of listening to a bullfrog at close range, and we unknowingly surprised a huge snapping turtle that had been sunning itself on a snag but made a jump for the water as soon as he/she became aware of our presence making a giant splash! It is always an amazing joy to spend time with our wild neighbors getting to know the wildlife and wild spaces in my part of the world and today was no exception.
While we were out I took note of something that is fairly obvious to anyone whose ever been in a kayak or a canoe; with every stroke of the paddle the water is stirred up as the kayak is propelled forwards. But when Erin and I ceased paddling the water became very tranquil. This got me thinking about the following words that are attributed to Jesus in chapter 14 of the Gospel according to John:
“I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart; and the peace I give is a gift that the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Jesus promises his disciples the gift of inner peace; if I were to attempt to define this inner peace that is God’s gift I know that my words would fall incredibly short of the experience; so while I won’t attempt to tell you what it is, I’ll do my best to tell you what God’s gift of peace of mind and heart is like based on my life experience.
It’s like that moment when you are in a boat over open water and there is a great calm; as the ripples cease the water’s surface is as smooth as glass; the sky, trees along the bank, and even your own reflection can be clearly seen as if looking into a mirror.
Many of us lead busy lives amidst chaotic schedules that make life feel like we are weathering some very turbulent waters indeed. In my experience, as I remain attentive to God through prayer, sometimes the Spirit of God moves me to go to a quiet place to find rest and sometimes the Spirit of God gives me a tranquil heart in the midst of chaos so I can be that peaceful presence for others.
I’m thankful that God is with me and with each of us through all that life brings.
What is your experience of God’s gift of peace of mind and heart? How would you describe it? What is it like for you?