I was recently asked to join a team headed to El Salvador to teach at a Leadership Seminar for church planters, ministry students and other church leaders with various roles from teaching Bible School to hosting house churches.
To my pleasant surprise there were several young people in attendance. This group amazed me. They were engaged during worship and the training. They listened intently and asked great questions. They also played hard during the breaks (believe it or not, I even scored a goal while playing fútbol!).
Another surprise was a group that traveled two hours everyday packed in the back of a pickup truck. I am not sure how many, but no less than 15. Their dedication to learning and being equipped for ministry was amazing.
I had a conversation with one young lady who traveled on the truck, we will call her Cindy. She turned fifteen during the seminar. Before a particular session, Cindy invited me to sit beside her. We got to know one another with what little Spanish I knew. Mostly we drew pictures. She is a real artist. Me not so much.
When the session began, our conversation turned to what was being taught. Since I couldn’t really speak Spanish and she couldn’t speak English, so we used google translator on my phone. It wasn’t perfect and it said some weird things at times, but it was good enough for us to communicate. We talked mostly about what the teacher was saying about the Kingdom of God. She asked me clarifying questions.
At some point, Cindy told me how she wasn’t sure about how much more school she would be able to attend. As someone with a BA in education and a MA related to education, sorrow began to grow in my heart. I had learned you have to have your high school diploma just to get a job at Wendy’s. Wendy’s is a great job in El Salvador.
What Cindy said next brought me out of my grief and into wonder. She told me about how she already uses the opportunities she has with her friends and the children in her community to share with them the hope of the Kingdom of God. Cindy’s love for Jesus was evident. She takes her faith and her role in the church seriously but with such a sweet and loving spirit. She enjoyed a peace about her future.
Later Cindy gave me a picture she had drawn. It is beautiful. I told her she was God’s masterpiece and He is preparing great things for her to do and her for!
So, what is the lesson in this for me? Generally, I think as Americans we are so consumed by life in this world, we miss the value of Jesus’ statement, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
In my head I know the Kingdom should be first, but in practice I often pursue all these other things first. I get some, miss out on others, and miss the peace God has for me. Cindy had peace with her future. Me not so much.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. That means it is produced in me by the Holy Spirit. It is not something I can manufacture. I can’t learn to be more peaceful. I have to lean into the Holy Spirit’s work in me. Here are a few practices that can position us to bear the fruit of peace in our lives:
- Choose to live as a foreigner in this world. I am a citizen of the Realm of Christ. I reside in this world. As a foreigner, I can enjoy the best of this world. But I can’t loose sight of who I am because of whose I am.
- Choose to live as an ambassador in this world. I am sent by my King to represent Him and His kingdom. I bring His good will and hope to the people of this world.
- Choose to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. As a Kingdom citizen, as an ambassador, the Holy Spirit indwells me. I can choose to pursue Kingdom things or I can pursue the things of this world.