Teenagers always think they know better than their parents, don’t they?
Have you ever had a conversation with one of your own that sounded something like;
“If you will study a little each night, the test will be so much easier”
“Why don’t you put those clothes away now so that you can find what you need later?”
“I’m not trying to stop you from having fun, but I know what’s out there…”
“I have some experience with that situation, let me help you…”
“I just want what’s best for you…”
But they often think that we, as parents, are “old fashioned” or out of touch. And in some ways, I suppose that’s fair. But it doesn’t change the fact that we have years and wisdom that they don’t. It seems that no matter how hard we try, often they are just bent on doing things their own way.
It’s a good thing that we don’t do that with God, right?
I can almost see your eyes rolling back in your head right now! I know you feel it, the sting of regret. The pain of doing things your own way. The remorse of how things should be different.
I’m certain that there is not one among us who doesn’t wish they had done things differently in certain places of our lives. If only we had listened to the advice we received. If only we hadn’t been so thick headed and stubborn. Experience is heck of a teacher. And the lessons we learned are still etched in our minds.
We recount how much better things might have gone had we only listened. We imagine the peace we might have if we had stopped when our conscience begged us to do so. But, at the time, we were sure that it would be ok. We were certain that we knew what was best for our own lives. But in the aftermath of regret and strife, we just want to go back. We want to go back to the time just before the wrong choice, and get a mulligan, a do over.
What we are really searching for, is peace. Peace in our situation, peace with our family members or friends, peace with God.
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, holds that peace.
Shortly before His crucifixion, in John 14, Jesus is teaching His disciples and attempting to prepare them for what is to come. It is impossible to imagine how trying that time must have been for them. They had followed Jesus everywhere for 3 years. They had seen Him perform miracles and healings. They had observed Him for years, doing only good things. He never slipped up, never made a bad choice, and repeatedly loved those who opposed Him. And now He was preparing to leave them soon. In John 14 we see some of the last conversations He would have with them.
Often, the last words of a person, reveal their truest selves. Here, Jesus was telling the disciples some of the most important things for them to know. He must have known that they would reflect on His words after He was gone. In John 14:23, Jesus says this “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me.”
I recognize that the word “obey” is not a popular word in 2021. Here are some synonyms of obey, to help us: Adhere to, accept, comply, embrace, live by, carry out. Anyone who loves Jesus will embrace His teaching. Anyone who does not love Jesus will not carry out His teaching. They will simply do things their own way, like a stubborn teenager. And like a teenager, they will eventually learn that their “Father” knows best.
Sometimes the peace we desire in life comes through the absence of struggle. And sometimes, it comes through the knowledge that, even though we struggle, our wrestling serves a higher purpose.
Often, when we struggle in this life, we imagine that God enjoys it. That surely His will has to be a difficult road. That His plan for us is intentionally full of heartache and strife.
But the truth is, where there is obedience…sorry…compliance, there is peace. Isn’t that what we always tried to get across to our teenagers? “If you’ll just do things my way, if you’ll just listen, things will go so much easier for you! I don’t want you to suffer, but I know things you don’t know!”
A few verses later in John 14:27, Jesus says this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus does not give as the world gives. The world gives dissatisfaction, strife, rioting, anger, and selfishness. The world says YOLO, (you only live once). The world says that no one is more important than yourself. It says, “Do what makes you happy” and “You-do-you”. But Jesus says that there is more to peace and contentment than self-seeking. Too much of just me, isn’t good for me. Whenever I have tried to find peace by only chasing down what makes me happy, I have only become more unhappy. Jesus, in contrast, gives peace. He said it himself, “My peace I give you.”
I want Jesus Peace! He had the kind of peace that slept in a tiny boat during a violent and horrendous storm at sea. He had the kind of peace that didn’t panic when it was necessary to feed 5000 people in the middle of nowhere with virtually no supplies. He had the kind of peace that didn’t run away in The Garden of Gethsemane when the enemy was fast approaching to demand His life. Jesus Peace.
He had that peace because of His obedience…sorry…loving adherence to the will of His Father.
It’s the same for you and me, sister.
I desire to do what God wants, even when it feels contrary to what I want or think. Maybe even especially, when it feels contrary to what I want or think. I know that God possesses wisdom and knows things that I do not. He always has my best interest in His mind. What He does in my life, He does for my own good, and for His glory.
Jesus wants us to trust Him above all else, and with trust comes peace.
Our peace, joy and purpose in this life, comes from embracing, carrying out and accepting that our heavenly Father knows best. In John 14:15, Jesus puts it this way, “If you love me, you’ll obey my commandments.”
Jesus Himself had peace in obeying the will of His Father. Who am I to think it would be any different for me?
Jesus, obeying you feels hard sometimes. It feels like I am losing myself. But Lord, I know that this life is not all there is. And I know that you want to prepare me for the life ahead and the life after this one. My desire is to follow and embrace your teachings. I invite you to speak to my heart loud and clear when I am trying to rush past you and do things my way. I desire Jesus Peace in all I do. Amen.