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John 14: 27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.

So here is the question. If Jesus gave us his peace then why are we not more peaceful? I have been playing in a week long bridge tournament and it is a great place to study peace (or the lack thereof). I just wonder what a psychologist would say if he or she studied people in bridge tournaments. It is an amazing dynamic. There are a lot of great people and I really enjoy getting to see the people from my mother’s bridge club that I do not get to see often. My goodness, it warms my heart just having my eyes filled with the visage of these beautiful people. Then you sit down at the table and start playing cards with someone you probably have never met before and you get to see human relationship dynamics at their loudest. I have said before, bridge can really highlight your shortcomings. If you are, impatient, bossy, rude, controlling, or have any of a number of character flaws, the game of bridge takes a 25,000 lumens spotlight and shines it right on your weakness. It pulls the brokenness right out of you and puts it on the table for everyone to see. This is especially true when you play in a week long tournament. As Saturday and Sunday roll around the rude behavior increases. Some folks are so impolite you would have a hard time believing me it I told you about it. 

Probably my greatest weakness (having to choose between several here) is that I don’t like to let anyone push me around. I am a fighter and have been since I was a child. So when these bossy, rude people get in my face I tend to push back. Now, I don’t think I am usually rude back but I don’t let their bad-mannered comments to me slide either. So Jesus said to me this week, “Why are you letting them have the peace I gave you?” Whoa!!

We also had some major issues with the hotel in which we stayed and one young guy who worked there almost made me lose my testimony. Well, truth be told, he cannot make me lose my temper. I am the only one who can make that choice. So Jesus challenged me all week long to hang onto that which he gave me. If Jesus gave me his peace then why would I let some jerk steal it from me? 

One lady at the bridge table got me a little. She and her partner played the first two hands and took their jolly sweet time in so doing. No problem. I am not going to cause them stress or boss them to hurry. Unfortunately, when it came to the last hand I was trying to play and she kept interrupting my chain of thought to tell me to hurry. Well, who died to make her the boss of the world, right? So eventually I pushed back (didn’t I tell you I hate to be bossed around?). I told her that her interruptions were making it hard for me to think quickly. I wasn’t rude but I think I was at least firm. Well, one thing led to another and we left that table with less than cordial feelings. It certainly was not mine nor my partner’s intention to be rude or contrary but I have a hard time not pushing back when someone gets in my face. That’s my damage showing. But here is the thing, I have a lord who loves me more than life itself and as he left this earth he gave me his sweet peace. Why, then, am I letting some goober steal it from me. 

The peace of the Lord is precious, sacred even. Moreover, Jesus left his peace for us because he knew that we needed it. His peace is not just a gratuitous offering. It is necessary for life. If we abide in his peace we will manifest much better health than those who let the turkeys get them down. So many of today’s medical malconditions result from allowing our peace to slip. It is called stress and every time we allow stress to replace peace we are allowing damage to be done in our bodies. We can recover but we need to do so as quickly as we possibly can. Say a quick prayer (even while you are sitting at the bridge table) and repent if need be. Repentance may be a simple as, “Lord, I am sorry I let your peace get away just then. Forgive me and help me to move back into peace right now.” That is not difficult, is it? Then you might take a deep breath, close your eyes for one second and let his peace flood right back into you. It really does work but you have to be intentional about it. This is not a magic formula. It is all about setting your heart and mind on living in Jesus’ peace and being determined.

There is one other point I would like for us to think about. What does it say about the person who is acting out? Maybe they are fussing at their partner or being crabby but what they are really saying if you listen well is, “I am hurt and broken! I need help.” You see, the damage in our personality is showing and it really is a cry for help. Now, you cannot always intervene in the person’s life at that moment but you can pray for them. And I think I am going to get better at praying for all of my opponents before the games. I will say that we only had that one encounter with an opponent but I did pray for all of the players before the tournament began. Maybe as each new opponent comes to my table I can say a very short prayer and thus avoid those issues. Hey, and remember to pray for your partner (not about them). It is up to you and me to be the carriers of the blessing. Criticizing our partners and feuding with opponents is not part of the blessing. There is something much more important going on here than just our master points. We are the actual ambassadors of Christ to a hurting world. We are affecting eternity with our words and attitudes so let us keep everything in perspective and live and love, in Jesus’ name.

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