And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.[Genesis 3:8 ESV]
I do not believe our world just happened without the direct, creative will of God. Nor do I believe our world is as He originally intended. When He created the heavens and the earth, and all He placed upon the earth and in the heavens, He judged it “very good” [Genesis 1:31 ESV]. Everything God does is the best, the essence of goodness. He did not create a world of danger and deadliness but of peace and wholeness.
Then rebellion happened, separating God from His highest creation, man. But, man was not just separated from God by sin. Man’s rebellion caused a rift, a struggle between others, between the sexes. There was a separation from nature, from work and the beneficial results of work. From dominion over all animals, birds fish, and creeping things. Because of sin the animals, birds and fish began to fear man, not obey or conform to man’s will and authority. Nature became hostile. God’s creation, the earth, moved from peace and rest, from communion and understanding to disunity, turmoil and danger.
Our world is now dangerous, in some cases frightening. How close can we stand to danger and still have peace? Stand near the ocean on a day of rough seas and harsh weather. Go into the water and the waves will batter you against rocks or the rip currents will drag you down and never let you rise to the surface. God has placed a boundary on the ocean, allowing the water to go so far and no further. You can sleep near the deadly waves in complete peace knowing they will not capture you.
Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? [Job 38:8-11 ESV]
Since the rebellion there is a tug and pull to move where there is risk and tempt danger. Perhaps the thrill of doing dangerous activities brings an adrenal rush which makes some feel alive. I know some who speed and dive and jump, who argue and contend, who over-work and sweat, activities needed to cover the feelings exposed by peace and rest. Where there is true peace there is a confrontation of self with the reality of sin and its ultimate consequences. Being forced to stop demands the person actually think and feel. Most would do anything but.
When we are silent, actually thinking and feeling, we recognize the fear and guilt which comes from separation. Guilt because sin is real and fear because its consequences are eternal. If we could but conquer guilt and be freed from fear perhaps we could live in peace without having to manufacture distractions, especially those which could easily lead to death.
Look at Jesus. In the last month of His life, He set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing the deadly outcome. On the way He taught His disciples, undistracted by the absolute future, unflinching in His love and devotion to them. While in Jerusalem He confronted the people who wanted Him dead. He ate with His disciples the night of His betrayal, celebrating the Passover, then prayed for them. He faced the Sanhedrin as they hurled insults and lies, remaining composed in the face of certain death. He faced Herod and Pilate, the world’s extremes. He was crucified by professional executioners, finally crying out in agony and spiritual separation. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” [ Mark 15:34 ESV].
He lived in a deadly world which ultimately, horribly murdered Him. Yet, throughout His life, in His death, in His resurrection, He lived in peace. Nothing in this world, no sin, no danger could take away or extinguish His peace. It is His resurrection which gives us the hope of eternal peace. It is His Spirit which guarantees our eternal peace. For it is His God, Himself, who created us for peace with Him.
Exposing ourselves to the dangers of the world is not limited to the physical. Like Adam and Eve the temptation first comes to the thinking our hearts. By tempting the world to take our lives, by putting ourselves in danger, do we not test God and try to control Him?
Even within the boundaries of turmoil and war we are His. He is our peace.