Updated: Sep 23, 2019
I woke up early today, knowing full well what date it was, and this scripture was, randomly, on my lips.
You see, today is my grandma Billie's birthday, and if there was anything I should not have peace over, it's her.
Billie Mildred Allred was born today in 1933. She would have been 86, but instead, she is not here at all. She died a hero.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are often taught the comforting doctrine that mothers whose offspring die young will be allowed to raise those children in the future. Tragically, Billie and Jimmy are the ones who died, leaving behind 5 children they would never get to raise. Jimmy was 25, and Billie was just 24.
A gas heater leak at 4:15 am on a cold, January morning bowed out the walls in a massive explosion which set their house on fire almost instantaneously, with 7 people inside. Billie and Jimmy died saving all 5 of their children, including my 3 year-old mother, who was the middle child.
Burns to 90% of Jimmy's thin frame took his life that evening. Burns to 85% of Billie's body took her life a few agonizing days later.
Yet here on her birthday, I am waking up with peace that passes understanding on my brain?! How could anyone have peace over this tragic situation?
As a result of the fire, each child was taken by different extended family members and raised separately. A young family was torn apart. Where is the peace?
Have you ever considered a gospel topic or aspect of your life and thought, "Where is the peace?" Perhaps you are upset with polygamy, getting temple sealings after a nasty divorce, or an anxiety and panic attack disorder that keeps you from enjoying the temple altogether. How can there be peace from a loving God in these situations?
With this scripture on my brain, I decided to look up the first footnote on "peace of God." I was intrigued when it said, "Also, Peace; Rest."
In such situations, peace can be a difficult thing to tackle, but that word "rest" raised my eyebrows. I hadn't really thought of the words being that similar--peace and rest--yet perhaps they are. Peace could be viewed as the ability to put our minds to rest, a state when our brain is in a place of ease and comfort. *I'm now picturing tucking my little brain into bed for a good peaceful rest.*
However, I have yet to figure out HOW? HOW do I bring my mind to that place? Looking for answers, I decide to click on a favorite scripture I've memorized: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
I had to ask myself this one question, "What am I so afraid of?"
I guess I am afraid of Billie being sad and feeling gypped or treated unfairly by life. She won't get the chance to raise her own children and have those motherly experiences, and I don't have a way to rectify that. Life can be harsh, mean, and unrelenting in ways we could never anticipate. I have nothing I could offer that would help mend the brokenness of this. Thankfully, Christ, the great author and finisher of our faith, anticipated this, ALL of this, and he *does* have something to offer.
That scripture I woke up with, Phillipians 4:7, teaches that we must be willing to keep our hearts and minds upon Christ. It reads, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." When I clicked the footnote for "keep," it said; "GR guard," meaning the original Greek word, phrourēsei, could also be translated as "guard." Similarly, the word "passeth" is a translation from the Greek word hyperechousa, which could be better translated as "surpassing." So if I did a word-for-word translation from Greek, this verse could also read:
"And the peace of God, surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Christ will guard our hearts and minds from what? The answer is FROM A LACK OF PEACE! Through Christ, we can be guarded from the wounds of this world because he doesn't just make these injustices and sadnesses whole. NO--He surpasses even that. He has MORE understanding to fill and heal our minds than we even need.
He is offering us the peace of GOD. He offers rest from troubles and fear. Is He promising that He will heal all our wrongs and injustices? I believe the answer is that YES, HE IS, whatever the sorrow or fear might be.
As we patiently place our jar of questions upon the altar of his infinite, atoning sacrifice, we can allow ourselves to feel His peace and rest our minds upon believing that all our questions WILL BE ANSWERED and all our pain fully rectified someday. We must allow ourselves to feel His peace and rest our minds upon that. All real, perceived and unseen injustices will be accounted for and made right. This is the all-powerful Christ I believe in.
In my heart, I feel Billie's trust in Christ. I believe she is trusting in Him to right this and to heal her and her children. There is a peace that is upon my heart over a relationship that I no longer feel so robbed of in this life. I know I will have that relationship eventually--in the life to come.
When my mother was just a baby inside of Billie, her body already contained within it the egg that would one day become *my* body. A piece of me was once within Billie, and I know I will find that same connectedness, wholeness and joy as we are reunited after this life.
Are we done raising ourselves just because we are adults? I don't think so. I can't wait to have more moments of raising by the voice of my dear grandma.
Now that is a truly a vision of peace that surpasses my own understanding of things when I first woke up today. <3