Thursday, November 12, 2015

Peace and a Red Coffee Cup by Mike DeCamp

Last year, when Kent Brantly said that he felt a “sense of peace” when he was first advised of the diagnosis of having Ebola himself, I think I sort of scratched my head and wondered how in the world that could even be possible.  How can a man get a death sentence—a sentence to die a horrifying, miserable death—and somehow be at peace?  I think I was a little in awe of him.  I was in awe of his faith that could provide him that peace.

As if this was somehow his own doing.

Anxiousness can be debilitating.  It can lock us up so that we can barely function.  It can cause us emotional, spiritual, and physical distress.  We can literally get ill from worry.  These days, it seems that potential sources of anxiety are hitting us from all sides.  Politics.  Elections.  Culture.  Terrorism.  Wars.  The color of coffee cups.

How do we find that sense of peace?

Would it help us if a certain coffee company printed “Peace on Earth” on the sides of their cups?  I doubt it.

Two things happened this week that have helped me better understand this whole “sense of peace” thing.

First, I was part of a meeting and discussion the other day that had the potential to be quite intense and I was very concerned, both about the way it would transpire and the outcome at the end.  This anxiety even affected the quality of how I slept the night before.  Frankly, despite my  best attempt to be faithful, I was worried about it.  Prior to the meeting, I did a little praying.  I asked God to help, and you know what?  All of the sudden, I was at peace about it.  I can’t explain it.  I just was.  Not only that, but the meeting actually went off very well.
I think it was a God thing.

Second, I related the following story about my dad to some friends as we discussed Veterans Day.
Ralph DeCamp is the first man on the left.
In World War Two, my dad served in the Army Air Corps.  He was a crewman on a B26 Martin Marauder flying out of North Africa and the Mediterranean.  He wasn’t a kid.  Rather, he was a man in his early thirties.  He didn’t tell me many stories from the war, only a handful.  One stands out, though.  He said that on his very first combat mission, he was scared to death—literally terrified.  I got the sense that he was nearly frozen with fear.  If you need help to understand why, try watching those scenes from the mini-series “Band of Brothers” where they were flying over Normandy to drop the paratroopers for D-Day.  That will give you an idea of what he was facing.  Anyway, as he struggled with his tremendous sense of terror, he prayed.

 “God,” he said, “please take away my fear.” 

My father told me that at that point, a sense of peace came over him.  He couldn't explain it.  It just happened.  As a result, not only could he fly with his crew and do his job, but when his own crew was idle, he began to fill in with other crews.  When men would find a reason to avoid a planned mission, he would volunteer to fly in their place.  He reached the required number of missions to be sent home long before the other men on his own crew, but instead of leaving them behind for the safety of home, he stayed.  He wouldn’t leave until they all could leave.  I have a document provided by a commanding officer that lists his missions--over seventy.  

Then he came home.

I used to be in awe of my father’s faith.  The faith that allowed him to be so brave.  Like he had something to do with it.

I’m proud of him, of that there is no doubt, and it was his faith that spurred my own.  However, this wasn’t about my dad.  It was a God thing.

Consider Philippians 4: 6-7....

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and you minds in Christ Jesus.

We may not know the answers, but God can still give us peace.  We may not understand where it comes from or how it even works, but God can put our hearts at rest.

So, let me just encourage you to turn to God the next time you’re feeling anxious.  If you’re worried about a test.  If you’re concerned about an election.  If you are bothered by the direction of our society.  If you’re frightened by world events.  Give it to God.

He’s got this.

Now, after all this, if you want to talk, I’m available.  If you need an ear to hear you, I’ve got a couple of them.  Give me a call.  I’d be glad to meet you at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.


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