This month ENLACE will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Corona Del Mar! We are overjoyed and so grateful.
As I thought about the many communities and churches that have partnered with ENLACE since 1993 and all the families and lives that have been impacted, one particular theme kept emerging. While I thought a lot about the challenges they faced over the last 25 years and more, I also began to think of the miraculous presence of one thing: PEACE.
Exploring the idea of peace led me to see that peace's opposite isn't a lack of challenges or of conflict. Rather, peace is the opposite of fear. Fear is the root of all hatred, anger, jealousy, etc. and therefore the enemy of peace.
Peace is similar to joy in that it is independent of outside circumstances. Your surroundings do not have to determine your level of peace. Paul's concept of a peace that “surpasses all understanding” illustrates this point.
Peace in the Midst of Chaos
I’ve felt peace while sitting on a surfboard out beyond the waves of a Salvadoran coastline, absorbing a majestic sunrise, floating in warm, calm, glassy waters that reflect the hues of the rosy sky in gentle ripples. In moments like these, my inner feelings reflect the tranquility that I am surrounded by.
But I’ve also felt peace while being held under the water by a wave, being tossed around like a rag doll, not sure of when I’ll be able to reach the surface to get a breath. As a matter of fact, a sense of peace becomes more important the more turbulent the situation. The more desperate the situation the more critical internal peace becomes.
In other words, peace is not the simple absence of conflict. Indeed, peace can be present even in the middle of conflict and turbulence. Maybe this is what ought to distinguish us as Christians. How else could we fulfill Christ’s commandment to love even our enemies!? How could I possibly even think of loving someone who seeks to do me harm, if I don’t have peace in my heart!?
The pastors and church leaders that we get to accompany at ENLACE are incredible examples of this peace in the midst of turbulence. Nearly all of them face great adversity and difficulty, from physical and financial insecurity to open opposition both inside and outside of the church. However, they continue to allow the peace of God to rule their lives and attempt to simply live and love like Jesus did.
Finding Space to Cultivate a Breath of Peace
I believe that intentionality and consistency can help to nurture a sense of peace that can sustain us in turbulent times. Even though we can feel peace in times of conflict, it is necessary to find spaces of external peace and tranquility to be connected/reconnected to a peace that passes understanding and will endure the times of conflict.
Making time for this "breath" of peace is also very practical. For example in surfing, you become accustomed to taking a deep breath before you are pushed under the water by a wave. While underwater a sense of calm makes best use of the oxygen available in your lungs. If you freak out and swim hard, fighting against the force of the water, you will burn through your oxygen quickly. The same is true with our inner peace.
Think of how many times Jesus showed peace in the midst of conflict and struggle. But also, think of how many times we read that Jesus went away, alone to pray. It seemed to be a ritual or habit for him; something that became as routine as breathing. If Jesus had to find spaces to reconnect with the peace of the Father, how much more do I need to find consistent and intentional spaces!?
We must find consistent spaces to be intentional about receiving the peace of God. And while it may never become as mindless as breathing, if we strive to incorporate it as a habit, we can be sure that we can receive enough of God’s breath of peace to sustain us through any situation.
Consider donating a special gift and support peacemaking in
El Salvador, Guatemala and Nepal in honor of ENLACE's 25th Anniversary.
I am so grateful to be celebrating ENLACE's 25 years this year. But even more exciting is the knowledge that God's peace will continue to reign in the hearts of those who serve him.