Live at Peace

Live at Peace

Biting lips and holding the tongue—isn’t that keeping the peace? No words get exchanged, no fighting ignites, and everyone walks away in one piece.

No bloodshed doesn’t mean no harm done. How many times have I walked out, or sent others away, emotionally injured, insulted, or hostile? Thin grinned and clutching coats we can’t get away fast enough. That’s not peace—that’s a pressure cooker.

Running home fuming, festering into another pair of non-suspecting ears is not living peaceably with others.

I’ve been running a long time.

Biblical peace is not just the absence of war, strife, and disorder. It’s also about a sense of being safe and secure—a sense of physical and spiritual well-being.

Living at peace isn’t pushing problems down—it’s airing stubbornness out. It’s not standing our ground but sitting still and listening for grace. Submitting when He says, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each other.

We’ve left churches. More than I care to count. I’ll be honest, I’ve walked down isles with more doubt than devotion—lower enthusiasm and higher scrutiny. Leaving when errors begin adding up, when expectations start counting down. We’re not looking for perfection—we have strong beliefs! Personal convictions, ya know, policies we’re not willing to part with.

We’re finding our agendas are leaving us at a loss. The one hole in our want for broader spiritual connectedness is getting bigger. We tell ourselves, There has to be a better church out there. A congregation that shares our vision—concurs with our understanding of scripture. We quietly leave not wanting to stir up trouble. Fleeing the herd like they’re a pack of wolves instead of the same flawed flock we are.

Deliberating for a while, we justify, lick old wounds and start the search all over again.

I six-hour car trip with a barking back brought, The joy of the Lord is my strength, to my rescue. Reclining flat with eyes closed and knees straight these words lined my mind with the truth, and I made it to my grandchildren without freaking out, or worse, forfeiting joy. Eager to know where this verse was located led me back to Nehemiah. I needed to hear his story again and appreciate how these were the words the Holy Spirit chose to carry me to Cincinnati.

Nehemiah was torn up inside facing the survivors of his nation after a 70 year stretch in captivity to Babylon. His people were distraught, reproached and the walls of their city burned to the ground. Spilling his heart out to God—like dominos, one by one everyone began doing their part to repair the rubble outside their own doors. Gaps were closed and unity built because the people had a mind to work. 

Enemies started spreading rumors hoping to bring them all back into bondage. Confusion ensued; nevertheless, they continued to pray. They remembered the Lord, great and awesome, and fought for their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, wives, and homes. Nehemiah designated a rallying point, preparing for when the pressure would inevitably resume, declaring, Our God will fight for us.

I was cut to the heart.

This is church. This is God’s vision of His kids together on earth. Believing, uniting, praying, working to overcome the lies and confusion of our loveless backgrounds, our bruised hearts, our broken backs. He wants us to remember that we are family. Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body. 

We’re going to disagree. Shins are gonna get kicked, ribs are gonna get elbowed. The immature may seem annoying and the wise can appear bossy, but we’ve been the later and we’re approaching the former and we’re not always going to get our own way.

Jesus did not come to get his own way but to seek and save that which was lost. And haven’t we all lost enough?

While in Cincinnati I sat at the dining room table playing a game of monopoly with my six-year-old grandson, Fred. I was losing. Grandma said something snarky, and his mother piped from the kitchen, “We only use encouraging words in this house.” Oh the blessing of operating under the rule of a good mother. God is an even greater Mother working the same goal for His own house. Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If I can’t live at peace with my brothers and sisters now, then when?

The only way to peace is through love—the only way to anywhere is love. 

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. 

I’ve lived one divorce after another, and the gospel keeps opening its doors to me. I’ve prayed, “All I want is what you want Father,” and He wants me to be part of the repair.

14 Comments

  1. Kary on September 17, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Joann, another confirmation in this read for me! Been dealing with a lot of things and emotions are high (sometimes out of control). Yesterday’s church service hit the nail, and so did you. I love how He speaks to us…. 🙏🏻🙌

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 17, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Sorry for your struggles. We’re in this together. Thanks for your comments Kary—you bless my heart.👭

  2. Joe Downs on September 17, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Welcome home. Very much to the point.

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 17, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      It’s good to be back. Love you Dad.😘

  3. Jackie Natale on September 17, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    I have missed reading and reflecting on your beautiful words. Words that are honest and God-honoring. Truthful. Vulnerable. We’re all like that. And it is a great blessing to be able to show it. Thank you. I always hope for more of your prose. ❤️ You, beautiful sister in Christ.

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 18, 2019 at 2:01 am

      Much thanks for that Jackie. It feels good to write again. I praise Him for every word. Your comments always bless my heart Sister. 💕

  4. B on September 19, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Love reading your heart.
    Miss you Jo

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 19, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Love having you here dear friend.
      Miss you too Bonnie.👭💕

  5. corey buchanan on September 23, 2019 at 12:38 am

    Wonderful blog!

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 23, 2019 at 12:57 am

      Much appreciated Corey!
      Thank you for stopping by!☀️

  6. Lee C on September 27, 2019 at 2:29 am

    Hey Jo! Thanks for welcoming me into your family and now to hear your poetic narration of what the Spirit whispers or shouts in your ears. A familiar voice, to be sure – no matter who utters the words! Thanks!

    • Jo Ann Alo on September 30, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      Lee! So great to have you here! Thank you for the encouragement. It’s always a blessing to hear from family.

  7. Kim Sullivan on October 12, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I know what’s it’s like not to fit in where church is concerned. I am fortunate enough to have been embraced regardless of the fact that I felt differently about some things. I only hope I also gave the same grace in return.

    Now, after my move, I am a nameless, voiceless blur. It’s a struggle, after being loved so well from where I came from. But maybe that’s the point. I’ve stripped down to naked everything that I identified with through this move. Slowly, I think, I’m becoming more of who He created me to be.

    Nehemiah is one of my favorites! I bet this place will be one of my favorites as well!

    • Jo Ann Alo on October 13, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Mmmmm…”more of who He created me to be.” What a beautiful sound that is to my ears. We desire the same thing. “To be conformed more and more into the likeness of His Son,” because we’re family and it’s so good to remember we are facing the same struggles and leaning into the same Father.

      It blesses my heart to have you here. Thank you for visiting and leaving encouragement and grace behind.

      I look forward to hearing more of your journey!

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