Shared at graveside service for Lincoln James McFarland on December 5, 2015.
There are times in our lives when we simply want something more, we want something better. We want better answers, better meaning, better purpose. This thought kept occurring to me during the events of this past week. And with that, I thought about a word used in scripture. The word is “surpassing”. Some translations use the word, “transcending”. I love both because they convey what I feel (perhaps what we all feel at times). I desire to surpass and transcend this life. We find that word in Philippians 4:7 when we read, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your mind and heart in Christ Jesus.”
Reading that I thought about peace in my own life. I don’t always have it. I find myself in turmoil and anxious about things more often than I am at peace. There have been moments of unlikely peace in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. Perhaps that kind of peace is what “surpasses all understanding” is referring to. In the most difficult moments of my life, peace has come over me that was beyond reason or explanation. And yet, peace (generally speaking) is elusive in our lives. We have it in occassional, small doses like drops of rain suddenly and unexpectedly landing on us and then, just as quickly, find it evaporate away. Defining the peace of God in this way I must conclude that God may not be pleased that I experience far too little of His peace. Perhaps it is my fault. But, may I suggest another possibility?
In thinking about the peace of God, I came to another revelation – I may have thought of that verse in the wrong way. Too often I misintrepret scripture by trying to make it about me. The peace of God, as stated in scripture, may be referring to just that – God’s peace – not mine. And then it all made sense. God has peace and that is what guards my heart. Because of Jesus, God looks at us, His children, and He has peace. When the heavenly hosts declared at Jesus birth “Peace on earth” – that could not have meant peace between mankind. If that were so, it has failed miserably. Mankind has been at war with one another since Cain and Abel and Jesus birth did not, in an instant, vanquish mans violence against man. Rather, it is God’s peace between Himself and mankind, made possible by the person and work of Jesus, that is remarkable. God no longer sees us as enemies. And because of that we can sing, “Glory to God in the highest”. So what is the point of all this?
Today we can also sing, “Glory to God in the highest” because of the peace God has with us. And here is why: God looked at the brief life of Lincoln James McFarland, He looked at his small, not even completely formed body, He looked and He, God Himself, the creator God, the author and finisher of our faith, was (and is) at peace. Knowing that God is at peace with calling Lincoln into His arms far sooner than we would wish, is what will guard our hearts and minds until we see Lincoln again. Perhaps we will think of Lincoln and see his life as being unrealized and incomplete. But mark this well: God looks at Lincoln James McFarland and says, “He is Perfect!”.
And so I read as an encouragement to all of us, but to Justin and Lori specifically, “May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Amen!