At first glance the painting is a tornado sweeping over farm land in the Midwest. The sky is black and the funnel that has dropped down would intimidate the most daring and brave of Hollywood’s imagination. Trees are uprooted. A sheltering barn that gives security is being shattered and will soon be gone. Livestock are terrified: some stampeding, others paralyzed. One is caught up in the whirl of the twister. The tornado is uncontrolled. However it is not the focus of the painting. It is only the frame of the artist’s work. The focal point of the painting and the artist’s message is seen in a small oak tree standing tall. Its limbs and leaves are shaken, but they are intact. The artist titles the work, Peace.
I was reminded of this painting when I met two young adult women. These women did not know each other. Their commonalities were their youth and their exemplary lives of peace in the midst of chaos and most notably, an assumed security in their lives that was quickly fading. Each woman had a middle-aged parent who was dying. When I met them, they were making decisions; things were happening, arrangements being made. They were asking for assistance about home health, hospice and home care – the hard questions. They knew nothing about end-of-life care, but they wanted to learn so that they could be involved in the precious few days and weeks remaining. Impressive sacrifices were made. They temporarily rearranged their work schedules, their homes and other living arrangements. Each made decisions unique to their own needs, resources and circumstances. These two young heroines personified Peace at its best. They lived it even when life was painful to face and their question, “Why?” could have paralyzed them. My admiration of these women came during our first meetings as I heard their stories. Each verbalized this to me in her own way… I want to honor my parent. This ancient principle is one of ten. They are essential when considering peace in our lives. God is the God of Peace. Rather than leaving us as helpless, He offers these foundational truths to empower us in making all decisions. And we have the stronghold of faith. But what is faith? Every person has limitations of reach, strength, intelligence and emotion. Faith is that knowing, and the acceptance of it, that God works beyond our limitations. He is working on our behalf and focusing on our individual need. To know God is to be awed by the mysteries of His love and interaction seen in His work. My friends secured their decisions on God’s principle of honoring their parents. By faith they trusted the details would be revealed accordingly. To watch these two in action was so very impressive. They did not just weather their storms; they were dynamic and amazing to watch. Their life storms were as frightful as the tornado described. Yes, they cried and questioned, but they were also able to take action: making decisions and “moving mountains.” One, halfway through, realized that she suddenly needed to change course. Her resolve to honor her parent remained, but her new strategy brought in expertise which gave comfort to her mother. It also gave easier access for extended family to be present. What a woman! What impressive young women!
They are not Hollywood actresses. They are not wise with age. They are just people who grasped decision making power focusing on a proven principle and stepping out in faith that they would never be alone. God was working with them. Their reward was peace in the midst of chaos. With quivering chins these women told me death was coming, but death was only the frame of their works. Their messages: one said, “I want to honor my mother,” the other said, “I want to honor my father.” Their combined experiences are also titled Peace.
Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.
– Exodus 20:12, The Message