Here is the photo I promised, of my completed paper chain that shows what it takes to be a real peacemaker, inspired by Sunday school lessons from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons on the Beatitudes.
I couldn’t possibly search further for New Year’s resolutions. No tangible achievement such as weeding out my closet or getting a book published remotely compares with the character improvement represented by the list below. The chain has 36 links, and I sure wish I could see myself nailing 3 of them per month for the next year, with no backsliding:
Listening, understanding, praying, interceding, sympathizing, forgiving,
Putting others first, not standing on your rights, submitting, giving thanks,
Holding your tongue, obeying, training, instructing, honoring, blessing,
Rejoicing, getting along, being in harmony, not being conceited, overlooking,
Doing what is right, feeding, giving drink, overcoming, not judging,
Not looking down on others, not being a stumbling block, edifying, unifying,
Being kind, compassionate, humble, gentle, patient, and loving.
Shortly after I published the original article on this topic (find it under Menu – “Peacemaker – a tall order”), rush-hour traffic on a Friday evening set a hurdle in my path. I did not clear the hurdle with a serene expression on my face; no, no. Instead, I temporarily “lost my religion” as the superlative frustration of driving among inconsiderate drivers is so apt to make one do.
You’ve been there. You’re first or second in line, waiting your turn at a busy intersection. You watch helplessly as one, two, or three drivers turn left on red, unlawfully “sneaking through” behind someone else who started through on yellow. You fume. You shout or you mutter. You are justifiably angry at those lawbreakers, and you also resent all the other drivers who placidly watch this law violation and accept it as reasonable behavior and aren’t offended by it because they are going to do the same thing themselves, the next chance they have.
On my way to a Sunday school Christmas party, I was waiting to turn left where the arrow was staying green for a ridiculously short duration, long enough to let only about two cars go on a turn. Meanwhile, people turning left out of the street I wanted to enter were equally frustrated and were blocking the intersection by starting through when they weren’t sure they could make it entirely through.
Finally, my tiny window of time came around. I proceeded – on yellow – and I had to wait for an intersection-blocking pickup truck to move a little farther forward before I could get past it. And that’s when I blew it. Literally and figuratively. I just couldn’t resist pressing my car horn to let that truck driver know I didn’t appreciate his being in the space it was my right to occupy.
“Not standing on your rights,” Betsy. My conscience told me immediately that I had just violated one of the rules of being a peacemaker.
Yes, 2016 can be a year of learning, of trying, of wanting, of failing and trying again, to be a real peacemaker.
Will you look at the list again and see if two or thee of the traits jump out as ones that don’t describe you at the moment? Will you ask God to keep them fresh in your mind, and will you pray about whatever or whoever seems to “get your goat” in those areas? Believe me, God does hear and answer!
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NIV)