Just One Word

Just 1



Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon

If I were to guess, I’d say we all have a funny autocorrect story to tell. It’s a feature about smartphones that amazes me--so close to mind-reading at times. Until it isn’t. My own embarrassing autocorrect stories usually come down to a one-letter difference in a word that makes ALL the difference--“o” and “i” are just too close together! While these funny autocorrect moments make me smile, one repeated autocorrect really perplexes. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve intended to type “peace” but instead end up typing “leave.” Autocorrect and I have gotten it wrong more than we’ve gotten it right!  So, I’ve been mulling it over.

With words, sometimes looking at opposite meanings is insightful, focusing on what they’re not. Peace, for instance, is the absence of war at its most literal meaning, but there’s a more personal level to it that, yes, may include an absence of turmoil in our lives—a calm when things are just going smoothly. But, peace is more than just the negative circumstantial things in life being at rest. It’s more than a leave-ing of challenges or trials.



There may be others, but I know of at least this verse in the Bible that uses both the words “peace” and “leave.” John 14:27–“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (ESV). In context, Jesus is square in the midst of telling His followers that He’s about to be crucified; He’s about to die; He’s about to LEAVE them in a way that they can only understand to be a very permanent leaving. Their leader is telling them that He’s both going away and coming back. This doesn’t make sense to humans in bodies that live once and die once. One of the disciples asks Him to clarify—how are you going to manifest yourself to us after you physically leave this world? Their questions during this chapter-long conversation weren’t about not having enough faith. They were grappling to understand: “What do you mean you’re leaving us but you’ll somehow manifest yourself to us after leaving?” His answer is clear. He says first, you’ll have my Word (remember last month’s word?). You’ll be able to reference what I’ve taught you there. When you follow me to the Word and obey my teachings, then you’ll also walk through life knowing that your steps are ordered by a loving Father. You can trust that He’s working in your life out of love. Circumstances may not leave, but neither will He.  And, when we have the Word of God and the love of God, the third thing He says He’ll do to manifest Himself to them (to us) is leave behind His peace.  He has bequeathed to us, through His death and resurrection, peace. He goes on to explain that it won’t be a peace that the world can bring—it won’t be an absence of war, it won’t be an absence of pain, it won’t be an absence of want. It won’t be a life without the normal experiences that all humans have to face. But, it will be a life floating on a current of peace. It won’t matter how wild the winds blow, how bright the lightning flashes around us, or how loud the thunder booms overhead; we have peace despite the storms we face.

And, then Jesus does what I think is miraculous in this smidgen of time leading to His crucifixion. He demonstrates for us HOW He wants us to live in peace even in the midst of life’s storms--how we can face the adversities that come our way with the calm confidence of knowing God is in control.  He simply ends the conversation in verse 31 by saying, essentially, “And now let’s get up and LEAVE.” He had a job to do. Was it a job He looked forward to? Was it work that would elevate His status in some way, pay Him somehow in earthly terms? No, it would do the very opposite. His closest followers--His friends--those who He was intimately connected to--would betray Him. He knew He was facing such a horrific death that He sweat drops of blood in praying about that journey to the cross. He would suffer a crucifixion that He didn’t deserve. He knew what lay outside the walls of the room He was in--knew He was leaving safety behind, knew that on the other side of the door lay soldiers, a Roman scourge, spikes for His hands and feet, a spear for His side, a crown of thorns, a tomb, death, three days of darkness, separation from His Father…but He simply got up in peace to leave.  He knew all of what was to come, even on the other side of the storm He faced. He knew He would also leave the cross. He knew He would leave the grave. He knew He would leave the spikes, the ridicule, the betrayal.  He walked out of the room, able to leave in peace, because He knew the Father would take every step with Him.

Our eyes will look out and see turmoil from time to time. Our minds will feel confusion and conflict. Our families will experience the pain and separation of death. Our children will be hurt by a world that’s harsh and hateful. Our hearts will break. But, He overcame even death so that we could have His peace. An eternal, beyond-the-circumstances-of-this-world kind of peace. A lay-your-guilt-at-my-feet, leave-your-sin-right-here kind of peace.  A victory-over-death kind of peace. He says to us:  leave me all the things that make you human—your worries, your shame, your imperfections—and let me give you, in exchange, peace. We can’t do enough to make our own guilt leave. We can’t make our own shortcomings leave. We can’t make the troubles of this world leave. But, Jesus conquered them all. Our shame has to leave when He steps on the scene.  Confusion has to leave. The heaviness of this world has to leave when we focus on Jesus, because, ultimately, peace isn’t about leaving. It’s about Him. He chose to leave the room IN peace, AT peace, so we could live WITH--just one word--peace.

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