the way back to peace

“No man has understanding if he is not humble, and whoever lacks humility is devoid of understanding. No man is humble if he is not peaceful, and he who is not peaceful is not humble. And no man is peaceful without rejoicing.”

This was written about 1400 years ago by a devout Christian living in Syria. Seems like fine words. Only that within these words are a lot of struggles, and frustrations, letting go and unnaturally releasing to God that which I want to hold onto. Yet in these words, I realize now, is the map to God’s training. This isn’t a linear path, however, but a circular one. Or rather a spiral, a spiral that leads round and round, upwards towards the top of the peak.

Peaceful seems a fine match with rejoicing. A quiet day sitting outside, listening to the merry song of robins in the tree above me, or watching the chipmunks scurry about in active busyness that for all the world looks like they’re playing, tends to easily bring out my thanksgiving.

But that’s not humility. Humility is something different. It is letting go of my expectations, my rights, maybe even my hopes, feeling the weight of my life’s worries without losing sight of God or feeling a need to assert my being thus satiating my alienated ego.

Rejoicing is the way to peace. Peace is the way to humility. Humility is the way to understanding.

Humility and rejoicing don’t go well together for me. In fact, I’m having a lot of trouble with rejoicing because of the humbling work of God. Maybe in the past I would have lost my focus, wandered into temptations, or gotten really angry with God for the lack of work I think he should do.

Now, I don’t feel those bitter thoughts or complaints. Nor, however, do I feel rejoicing welling up from my soul. Which is a problem. Because without it I won’t find peace, and without peace I won’t have that holy humility, and without that I’ll be devoid of understanding.

Maybe that’s been my problem for a while now. Whatever I’ve been feeling has certainly pushed me inwards, and it has provoked a rather serious case of writers block when it comes to assigned and potential projects. I sit and stare at pages, write a few words then realize they aren’t very good words.

But how do I prompt a rejoicing when I feel the weight of the wilderness? How do I find the rejoicing while still holding onto the humility? Because at least here my culture teaches to find satisfaction in the checklists of life. My list is still devoid of checks. At 32 I feel a rather bit behind the game. No wife, no children, no consistent paycheck, no house of my own, and struggling each day to hold onto good habits that have no practical benefit except through the eyes of faith.

I’ve been humbled, broken, taken out of the game so that I could find understanding. And I have, at times, rejoiced, thanking God for the quieting which does result in new thoughts and new insights.

But today, I struggle with rejoicing as I see the joy of potentials but the weight of frustrations that poke at me morning and night, driving away my thanksgiving even when I sit outside and listen to those robins and watch the chipmunks. A root of something has taken hold.

In the past I would have demanded God bring relief, or sought distraction by pursuing something, or someone, which would at least give a whisper of my heart’s content.

Now, however, I feel like at this point in the spiral I have to stop looking outward in distant directions and find the rejoicing no matter what the context. In that is the only way back to peace, and back to true humility, and finally to an understanding which would restore my thoughts and writing and lead me even higher towards God’s wholeness.

I have known what it is to have little and what it means to be in need. The secret, though, is to learn how to be content with it, and to even rejoice, especially to rejoice. Because if I can find real rejoicing in this moment, my eyes will have been taught to see in the darkness so that I can always, consistently, persistently, walk towards the light.

Then the enemy will have nothing to use against me. And I can maybe even help others who have yet learned to see.

But first I need to learn how to rejoice again. And keep rejoicing.

May God give me eyes to see today so that I could rejoice in sincerity and peace and humility and understanding.

That is the path ahead of me today.

This was written May 23, 2007

A couple years ago, Barclay Press invited me to do a two week daily journal for their website. They’ve since changed their online presence so those writings are gone. I was sorting out different files on my computer this evening and happened to run across them. So, I thought, I might as well repost them here. Both to have a record of them, and maybe more so, because this was written early in 2007. A fair bit of changes have happened in my life since then, so these are records of a time in my life when all I had was faith. I was writing a lot during these journaling times, and it’s curious what came out when I sat down to write. So, mostly for me, but also for anyone whose interested, I’m going to post one of these a day for the next couple of weeks or so.

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