Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ethan's Peace that Passes Understanding

Bulletin article for WCOC worship service on 08/03/14
Living Lessons: Peace that Passes Understanding
By: Christopher Wiles

I enjoy photography.  Freezing moments of time through the writing of light onto paper, canvas, or a computer screen helps me record those precious memories so I can't forget them as long as I live.  Yet the best moments, the ones that leave an eternal imprint, I'll never be able to photograph.  Why?  Because, as a dad, I was in moment rather than behind the lens.  
Sunset on the shore of our campsite.

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:4-6 (NIV)

Ready to hike out after 3 days in Hoosier National Forest.
While backpacking in Hoosier National Forest, Ethan walked up to my side on the trail and quietly slid his little 5 year old hand up into mine.  We couldn't walk that way for long because the muddy and narrow path often hampered walking side by side.  For an hour though, we walked in a silent peacefulness, hand in hand, whenever the path would afford.  Ethan didn't say much at all, he just had this silent peacefulness as we hiked.  I don't have photo of this moment, but something about sharing this with my son has emblazoned it in my memory.

That forest is massive!

 Another moment happened as we finished eating our fireside pizzas.  A spontaneous tickle fight in the hammock burst forth from the hands of Gabriel, Ethan, and myself.  In the aftermath, Ethan laid his head on my chest, closed his eyes, and fell into a deep slumber not even disturbed by my clumsy fumbling as I picked him up from the hammock and zipped him inside his tent.  Once again, there's no photograph, only a crisp clear moving memory with Ethan.  What gives a child that much peace?  

Peaceful Ethan.
How can a child sleep exposed in the open woods so soundly when all around are the noises of coyotes, deer, and frogs?  How does he walk peacefully in the massive expanse of forest filled with scary things like cliffs, rattle snakes, and falling trees?  The source to Ethan's peace that passes understanding is made clear in Philippians 4:5 when Paul tells the church at Philippi, "The Lord is near."  Similar to the Paul, Ethan knew that he had a strong, safe, and caring "higher power" near.  He had his father. . . . me.
Ethan enjoying a quiet hike.

When we as Christians truly feel and understand that our Lord, the God and Father of all mankind, is near, we can have that peace that passes all understanding.  When we know that He is so close that we can be in constant conversational prayer with Him, letting go of all our cares and worries to a near and dear Father, we can finally "not be anxious about anything."  When we have sought Him and accepted His seeking of us we can have peace no matter the treacherous surroundings.
Ethan on the trail.
Lord, may we as children daily seek to be by your side, seek to be near to you, and seek to feel your hand comforting ours.  May we deeply feel and understand your peace by seeking to be near you.  Father, as my children seek the assurance of safety they feel near me, help me to train them to seek Your assurance of salvation by knowing You are near.  May this seeking guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Three men in a hammock.
 The best moments in life may be unphotographed, but they have an influence that will last through eternity.  Men, strive be in the moments rather than behind the lens.  May you too have peace today in knowing that your Father is near. 

To see a few of our photographed moments, you can visit a public album by clicking: HERE. 

After 2 hours 50 minutes of hiking, we made it to our trailhead triumphantly!