I had been thinking about the lack of peace in our world this year, and then a feeling of peace overwhelmed my thoughts as I walked through the snow on Friday. We were surprised by what some called a perfect snow. It fell thick on the ground but not on the roads, and we enjoyed watching the soft flakes fall all day.
Sometimes we wonder where peace can be found when we look at our world.
The news doesn’t give us a picture of peace. Displaced people pour into countries where they hope to find refuge. Fires tear through countrysides destroying homes and people who find themselves caught in the path. Terrorists go on rampages and kill indiscriminately. Israel is in an uproar, and moral failures are being announced nightly. So where is peace today? Did someone steal the dove of peace this year?
Peace is not necessarily an absence of conflict, but when it comes we seem to experience it as a kind of calm rest. It’s interesting that the dove became known as a symbol for peace.
Perhaps the stillness of a resting dove provides a picture of peace.
Last week, I got to see a breathtaking dance called the Dove of Peace performed by two dancers from the Moscow Ballet. Though I’ve seen The Nutcracker many times, I had never seen the Dove of Peace dance presented exclusively in this version.
One dove wing was on the arm of the female dancer while the other wing was on the male dancer. Far apart, the dancers’ wings could span half the stage. When the two came together, though, the male dancer lifted the female with his non-winged arm and spun her in the air so that the two wings formed a beautiful moving picture of a peaceful dove. I couldn’t keep back my applause. The costumes enhanced the meaning of this dance, and it took the two dancers working together to form the dove.
Maybe peace only comes when we work together as these dancers did.
If you are also looking for the dove of peace this year, consider these thoughts based on Scripture passages about doves.
Create a resting place. In Genesis 8:8, Noah sent out a dove to see if it could find a place to rest. After the flood it took some time for the waters to recede, and Noah sent out what we might call a “test dove” to see if it would find a resting place. The truth is, without a resting place, the dove had to fly back. It took two more weeks before the dove could find a place to perch. We, too, need a resting place. Like the dove without a resting place, we may find we are busy flying around without purpose! We can create a home where people come to find peace. Some people offer to share these spaces where people enjoy spending time. During this hectic season, we want to remember to create resting places to enjoy one another.
Wait on the Lord. At Jesus’ baptism we read, “the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22 NIV). Both peace and the Holy Spirit are things we cannot see, but when we spend time with God and wait on the Lord, we may experience His peace. That doesn’t mean that the discomfort of the world goes away, but it does mean that we can find peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).
Be smart and guiltless. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (NIV). When Jesus sent out His disciples, He warned them that the message they would teach would be accepted by some and fully rejected by others. As Christians, as we share His message, we should not expect to be welcomed peacefully everywhere. But we do have some directions to be both shrewd as a snake and innocent as a dove as we represent Christ wherever we go.
Peace often comes at a high price.
God sent His own son as our Prince of Peace Who died for our salvation. Would we be willing to pay so much to give peace to mankind? Though the world may not seem at peace, God’s gift of peace is still available. It cannot be stolen if we belong to Him.
Claudia Johnson, CWLC leadership consultant