April 03, 2019"Peace is not the absence of trouble.
It is the presence of Christ in the midst of that trouble."
Those words were scrawled on a blue sticky note and laid out on an open Bible. A picture of that went viral. Until I looked a little more closely, I didn't notice that the verse just above it was from words Jesus had to say to His closest friends just before His crucifixion.
For a little background to why it's appearing in this column, I will reference Pastor Alex Snider's most recent message series. Three messages in a row were titled something like: "Oh! And just one more thing..."
I think it was kind of like this. If you are a parent, you know the drill. Whether your children are old enough to stay home alone or you are leaving a sitter in charge, you leave a last-minute list of instructions meant for the welfare and safety of your children. O.K. And maybe also for your own peace of mind.
Weighed down as Jesus had to have been during that walk from the last meal He shared with His little group of special friends, He was even more concerned for them than for Himself. As He walked, He said, "One more thing." "Oh...one more thing. "Oh. And this one more thing."
I had seen that blue sticky note picture before; but this time around, in light of that message series, I noticed something. The Post-It was stuck right below one of those "One more thing" passages. Right below where Jesus said He would not leave them comfortless, He said this: "Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid."
I saw the blue sticky note again this morning. Very early this morning. As in..."I can't sleep anyway so maybe I'll see if what's going through my head and heart will line up in formation and turn into a column."
Right about bedtime a friend had called to say his mom had died. It was the kind of news that was expected—hoped for and waited for, in fact—even though it is still always hard to let go. So my heart and my head didn't want to shut down to sleep.
I clicked on the computer to type, checking first to see whether that update, plus perhaps another I had been anticipating, had been posted.
It was there. The other I had been half-expecting was not there. But there were two others about death and dying. Also, tucked in there among them, was that blue sticky note picture.
It all made sense together. Three people had in recent days made the transition from this life to the next. One was old, and her death was timely. One had been much younger, and he had died very suddenly. And one was an infant, still in utero. And Jesus was holding out hope to those left behind. Hope not as the world gives, but eternal hope. And what better time to speak of this kind of hope than right here in the period when we commemorate the period between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Morning!
If you'd like to hear more about this hope, we'd love to have you join us for the rest of the series at the Imlay City Christian Reformed Church (next to Silver Grill on Cedar Street, aka N. Van Dyke). Worship is at 10 a.m. every Sunday. I'm finishing this on Sunday afternoon (because the column didn't write itself in one sitting); and this morning's message was yet another "One more thing." So come on out and hear more of the story and stay for a time of fellowship. Hear what the blue sticky note is all about as well as what Jesus meant when He kept saying, in essence, "Oh! And this one more thing before I leave you."
Email Willene at email@example.com.
Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.