Thursday, December 21, 2023

Are You a PeaceKEEPER or a PeaceMAKER?


One of the great things about working for a high school is that you get a lot of time off.  The pay isn't the greatest, but the people are amazing in Education and the time off is a bonus you won't get anywhere else.

Today is the first day of our Christmas break.  Unfortunately for me, I forgot to pray last night before I fell asleep that God would keep certain things from my hours of regeneration and peace.

I dreamed about David.  Ugh.

My prayers at this point in my journey are that God removes all traces of memories and love I have for David from me.  I can't carry the burden any longer for something that never truly existed, that "might" return one day in the future, or for a dysfunctional family wrestling with addiction and no real plan for recovery.

I normally pray before I go to sleep that God will not allow the devil to attack my soft spot or allow dreams of David, our past, or even our possible future to enter my mind.  I have to do this for my own sanity as well as to protect my heart and emotions.

It's just not healthy to "pine" for someone that has left you multiple times and by cowardly methods; lives in a state of addiction but does not seek counseling or help; and to keep hoping for a future that may or may not be healthy or ever come into existence.  God wants so much MORE for us as his children, and we need to make Him the focus of our thoughts and actions.

So, imagine my surprise when I began my reading this morning.  I don't even know why I am shocked or surprised anymore.  Even when God is silent, He is listening.  I am going to share what I read this morning in case it might help someone else through a tough period.

These words and thoughts perfectly describe my situation.  David (through his own admission to me) was a Peacekeeper; I am a Peacemaker.  You will see that the Peacekeepers operate from a point of dysfunction and unhealthiness.  They can never truly heal or form healthy relationships; they keep everything inside and absorb things like a sponge that never gets wrung out.

I, on the other hand (and certainly not to ring my own bell) am a Peacemaker.  I have learned, from working with and watching some of the smartest, calmest, and most savvy problem-solving educators the last 11 years, how to make relationships work and keep the peace.  These leaders have taught me so much by their examples.  I don't always succeed, but I at least try.

I will never be at their levels because they are constantly reading and attending classes on these skills, but just watching them create Peace is a blessing to me. I learn from watching their patterns of success.

So, without any more writing from me, here is what I read this morning.  A firm validation that God is in my midst, listening to all my prayers and supplications!

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
This verse is taken from Jesus' famous teaching in Matthew 5 - 7 called, “The Sermon on the Mount.” The sermon addresses how to live a spirit-filled life that pleases the Lord, full of mercy, grace, and love. 
Let’s dig a little deeper into today’s verse. Have you ever noticed this verse doesn’t say blessed are the peacekeepers, but instead it says blessed are the peacemakers? Aren't they the same thing? I don’t believe so, and here’s why . . . 
The Peacekeeper 
Peacekeeping on the surface appears to be a quality Christians should strive for. Keeping the peace applies really well to minor offenses. Wisdom teaches us to pick our battles. However, if one is simply keeping the peace at the expense of resolving an issue or addressing a sinful pattern, then we need to ask ourselves why. Do we do this out of fear of rejection? Do we believe we won't be accepted if we’re not being a people pleaser?

When we duck away from conflict, we are shying away from a revealing teacher. Conflict can bring to light our triggers, attitudes, and communication skills. It reveals where we’re holding on to sins such as bitterness and pride. It uncovers unresolved wounds, unmet expectations, or our deeply held resentments. Peacekeepers are more likely to suppress their emotions to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that arise with conflict. Uncovering the deeper issues of our struggles and moving toward conflict resolution can produce lasting spiritual growth.

The Peacemaker

Peacemaking is a far more vulnerable endeavor. Making peace requires much more self-sacrifice than just peacekeeping. Biblical peacemaking requires the courage to speak the truth in a gentle manner. As we read in Galatians 6:1 (NIV, emphasis added), “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

When we look at conflict less from the angle of winning and losing and more from the angle of problem solving, we promote a mindset of unity instead of division. A peacemaker works towards resolving conflict with the aim to provide healing and reconciliation. Jesus promised we would be blessed in our efforts to make peace. James 3:18 (NLT) states, “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

None of us can create lasting peace without Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Apart from Him we can do nothing. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, He will provide us with all we need to accomplish His will (Matthew 6:33). With His empowerment, we are able to be people who make peace in the midst of strife.

"Dear Lord, in order to have peace with others, I must first have peace with You. I confess my sins and repent. Your Word says if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Empower me to be more than just a peacekeeper Lord. Please help me to be a peacemaker, resolving issues in a loving and godly way. Amen.

I pray this morning that David, and other Peacekeepers, will learn how to MAKE Peace instead of stuffing their feelings deep down inside of themselves or absorbing them.  That they will learn how to work with grace and love to share their feelings, resolve conflict, and move toward resolving issues instead of running away from them.

Keeping the peace isn't healthy for any of us.  We must constantly strive to make the peace.  It's a battle, and one we must work on all the time.  Jesus wants us to be Peacemakers.  I pray we can do that daily!

"Lord Jesus, help me every minute of every hour to remember to make Peace, not just keep it.  There are so many valleys and battles in life.  We should be striving to resolve conflict and bring people together, not create bigger battles or argue with others around us.  I pray for David - that you will keep him safe today as he travels to do his job.  I pray that his heart will remain pure and turned toward you.  I pray that you will teach him your Words and your ways.  I pray you will keep him in church and with a pliable heart.  I pray for release from the strongholds and chains that bind him that he is unable to see right now.

I pray you would allow my heart and mind and emotions to fully heal.  That you keep me from sorrow and hurt and the trap of dysfunction.  Keep my eyes on you and in your Word.  Surround me with family, friends, and people who hold strong Christian morals and strength.  Open doors for me to new relationships at church where I can serve and learn more how to walk beside you better.  Please keep me under your wing and your protection.  I love you Jesus.  It is in your name I pray.  Amen."

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