Louis Armstrong, Miss Marple and Jesus: What Does A Peaceful Soul Look Like?

                                                                 Christ in the Storm – Rembrandt

(This is part four of a series of posts: one, two, three.)

When my children ask me what something is, a textbook definition will not do. It may take them deep into the meaning of a word or action, but they will not understand. Before the definition is meaningful, they need a picture or a story. So, like a child, before I even try to define ‘peace’ I wanna get at what it looks like first. In other words, I need a picture.

I want a peaceful soul. But I cannot seem to get there. Today I railed at my kids. Granted, I’m getting over a cold, I slept little and they had pushed that button approximately 4372 times too many. But it showed what I lacked – a soul at peace.

I am not entirely sure I know what it would look like. Or even sound like. Maybe a cross between my father and Eugene Peterson with a little Miss Marple thrown in? Maybe its the color of the sea and hues of an early spring day. Maybe it sounds like late-night Louis Armstrong. In mono.

But mostly Jesus.

All these stories I’ve grown up with and know by heart and never have noticed how at peace Jesus is throughout. He is at peace in the midst of a storm, enough to sleep. He is at peace with God, his Father, doing his will. He is at peace with his enemies even. I mean, the peace which he exudes during the Last Supper – I would have railed at Judas. And everyone else because of what is coming. The pressure would have been too much. I would have cried out in anger against the very nails whose stuff I dreamt up in the dark recesses before time was. And yet Jesus without being an emotionless stoic, is at peace while the created order conspires against him, the Creator.

Also, I never noticed how at peace he is with himself. Maybe because I never thought about such a thing. I think about myself a lot. Too much. But Jesus is at peace with himself. He is certain, fixed like a flint on his mission –  his way of doing things. I question every move I make. Sometimes for years on end. Arguing with myself – justifying myself even as I accuse myself.

You do it too.

I never noticed how much Jesus talked about peace. I never even once noticed. It’s thematic. And not just in the red letters. Throughout the NT, the Spirit of Christ through the writers seem to have ‘peace’ always at the ready as a subject. Of the NT literature only 1 John has no mention of peace. This tells me something – it is not silly to want a peaceful soul. If the soul is so serious a thing as to be told I should not want to trade the world for it and peace is thematic for the Christian life…then I just may be onto something.

Maybe this is not a divergence but an insurgence into the very heart of God, himself. Maybe this is what we were meant to pursue. And perhaps the strangeness of it is calling us to see how we have not cared for such a thing as we ought.

One thought on “Louis Armstrong, Miss Marple and Jesus: What Does A Peaceful Soul Look Like?

  1. Gabe April 25, 2011 / 2:45 pm

    "I would have cried out in anger against the very nails whose stuff I dreamt up in the dark recesses before time was."You just blew my mind. I had never once considered the fact that Jesus architected the very torture He would endure. I mean, I knew in a macro kind of way, but I had never considered it on the level of His knowing. My big fight, right now, against my own peaceful soul is unfulfilled desires. What I want, I don't get and what I have, I seldom want. And finding contentment, true contentment, in Him is something I am also chasing. But like humility, in that I will always be a prideful man seeking humility, I believe we are all unsettled, beleaguered men seeking peace.I'm praying for you bro.

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