Walking in Peace

Wednesday 11 August

With Amy Summerfield

1 Samuel 25 1-35 

What does it look like to walk in peace? As an extrovert who loves a good natter with friends, some time ago I felt a nudge to go on a silent retreat.  Struggling in that silence, I decided to go for a walk.  After a while I asked God, “If you love me, can you send someone to me so I can say hello?”  Soon afterwards I met a farmer and said, “Hello.”  Later on as I entered into that space and place of prayer I asked, “God would you share with me your word.”  As I walked a little further, I heard the Lord’s voice.  “Amy take care of your feet.”  I burst out laughing. I’m not good at that.  My feet are not fit for purpose (I often wear the wrong shoes).  But what God was saying to me was to take care of my spiritual feet.

I was reminded of this scripture:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7

Do you take care of your spiritual feet? Do your feet carry the good news that proclaim salvation?

Let’s look closely at Abigail this peacemaker who so boldly walks in peace.  Three central characters are found in her story.

Nabal Is The Provoker

He was a wealthy, surly and mean.  He was self-focused.  He had a problem with drinking and his name meant “fool and foolish”.  It would have been impossible not to have known who David was in those times but Nabal was intentionally provoking.  He had no desire to be the peacemaker.

David Is The Peacemaker Provoked

Initially in this story David offered peace, “Peace be to you. Peace to your house and peace to all that you have.”  His army had watched over Nabal’s property and in those times, Nabal was required to give back hospitality to David’s army.  David demonstrated peace but provoked by Nabal, he changed.  This was the turning point and he went on to encourage everyone to grab their sword.  David allowed Nabal to get under his skin.  He was out for revenge and would have become violent.  But Abigail calls him back to the place of peace.

We see how David response, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to me today.” And then he says, “Go home in peace to your house…”  David allowed peace to restrain him.  Had it not, it would have been disastrous for Nabal’s household but also to David’s leadership. In the next chapter, he finds himself threatened by Saul again.  I wonder if Abigail had not have intervened, what would have been the consequences for David’s life and leadership?

Abigail The Peacemaker

Abigail was an incredible leader and peacemaker. She knew the reality of living in a difficult environment.  Even though her situation was not peaceful, she remained peaceable.  She found the ability to step away from her reality and see the wider picture.  Her servants said, “Think it over and see what you can do.”  She faces an army of 400.  She walks out of peace and she leaves the footprints of peace. Even when she was under, Abigail still sees the bigger picture not just for herself,  She saw who David was and who he was becoming.  Her actions are far more influential than we could imagine.  

I wonder about the situations and circumstances right now in your lives.  Think it over. What will you do? How will you respond?

Abigail’s intelligence in this matter is truly amazing.  Understanding emotional intelligence helps us to be a people of peace. Abigail had it in bucket loads. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman talks of the need for recognition (self awareness understanding our trigger points) and regulation (the ability to control our responses).  Goleman then goes on to talk about how the way we behave affects the emotions of those around us. This is not news.  As God’s people of peace, He has charged us with the ability to change the atmosphere.

God wants to do a deep work in you so He can do a deep work through you. 

 Can we recognise how God wants us to be peacemakers in our circumstances.

As we look at these three characters in the story of Abigail who do you most identify with?   Are you a provoker?  Are you like David the peacemaker who is then provoked?  Or are you like Abigail? What are we spotting in our lives and circumstances that need to change?

Who should we reach out to and accept help from?  Who is our Abigail and how can we be like Abigail to those around us?  How can we walk out God’s peace?   What do people of peace look like?

Peace is their passion 

(Philippians 4:7)  If we really want peace to be our passion, we need to put that into practice by praying daily, “Holy Spirit start with me.  Holy Spirit change me.”  Remember, we do the beholding, He does the transforming.

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

God’s passionate pursuit of peace for all mankind must be ours as well. Is peace our passion? 

Peace is their Practice

Ephesians 6 talks about the armour of God.  

…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” v15

We need to be in this for the long haul and we should be committed (ready) to live out peace.  Roman soldiers had their footwear studied with nails. Spiritually our footwear is vital. We need to wear the footwear of peace. Peacemakers like Abigail are front-footed. They are equipped with spiritual shoes to walk the distance and to talk the distance.  Where have we got out of practice? God has a bespoke shoe for us that is fitted with the readiness that ensures we are have the right radar for peace.  

Peace is their pursuit

This is the on-going journey of being peaceable.  We are called to strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up.  It requires growing in gentleness, patience and meekness.

Let There Be Peace On Earth And Let It Begin With Me

Husband and wife team Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller collaborated on this song – shw wrote the words and Sy wrote the melody.  Jill found herself suicidal.  She wrote this song after discovering joy in God. “In that moment,” she said, “I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me, which is very difficult to explain. I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.”

Sy Miller described singing the song with a group of teenagers, “One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains, locked arms, formed a circle and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with its simple basic sentiment—helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding. When they came down from the mountain, these inspired young people brought the song with them and started sharing it.”

Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me;
let there be peace on earth,
the peace that was meant to be.

With God our creator,
family all are we.
Let us walk with each other
in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me

This is a poignant song. What is the Holy Spirit saying to us? If we really want to see peace on earth, the invasion of God’s presence in the world, then we need to say, let it begin with me. 

Some of us are living in a provoked environment; maybe in your home or workplace.  As much as you hear the joy of the story of Abigail, it is not your reality.  Within your environment that feels so provoked, we pray that God will call you back to that place of peace and to see your heart and mind transformed. Let us believe that environments can change as we call out to Jesus.  But whatever our landscape looks like, let us pursue peace.  For anyone living in a provoked environment, I pray peace and the presence of Immanuel.

Maybe some identify with David – we once were peacemakers but right now we feel more anxious and agitated.  I pray for you tonight that you will find an Abigail moment; that the Holy Spirit would reach into you and speak peace over you. That the anxiety you feel would be dispelled t the name of Jesus.

Jesus, we thank you that you are our peace, you are our Shalom. You are the best example of living, loving and leading. Help us to surrender to you this evening.  Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Amen.

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