One depicted a tranquil lake. The water serenly mirrored the surrounding majestic mountains, azure sky, and soft clouds. Those in the king's company who saw it doubted there could be a more perfect picture of peace.
The second painting had mountains, too. But they were jagged and menacing. They were being pelted by a relentless rain. As lightning flashed in the dark clouds hovering above, a thunderous waterfall tumbled to into the murky river below. Those in the king's company could not understand why the painting was not immediately ruled out. In their estimation, it portrayed the exact opposite of peace.
But they did not see in the painting what the king saw. Behind the waterfall was a tiny bush growing in the crevice of a rock. In the bush, surrounded by the rush of angry water, was a mother bird nestled in her nest.
Seeing the two paintings side by side made the king's decision easy. He chose the second one.
Those in his company couldn't hide their shock. "Why?" they blurted out.
The king explained. "Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or turmoil. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
It is fairly easy to have a sense of peace when life is good; when we and those we love are in good health; when we have gainful employment, financial security; when things are going our way. But when storm clouds gather; when the winds of adversity blow; when we're being pelted by one crisis, disppointment, and rejection after another, our peace can dissipate in an instant.
The peace we find in this world can be fleeting. It is often based on our circumstances. But the peace God offers us is different.
Before Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven He said, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid"--Jn. 14:27, NLT.
The peace of God is deep, abiding, calming peace. It stands guard over our minds and hearts even in the midst of life's storms. It nudges us in the most trying times and whispers His promises: I will always love you. I will never leave you. I have a plan to prosper you, to give you hope and a future.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul writes: "For Christ himself has brought peace to us. (2:14, NLT). The angels who announced Jesus' birth said He came to bring "peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased" (Lk. 2:14, NLT).
God sent Jesus down from heaven with a gift bearing your name. It's a gift that cannot be found this side of heaven. If you haven't already, open it. Experience it for yourself. It will change your life.