Yesterday a military helicopter flew over my head and these were my first thoughts:
- Are they responding to an attack on Odessa?
- Is it a Ukrainian helicopter or are the Russians already here?
- Are they going towards the conflict or away?
In this episode of “Now Is the Time” I share with you how living in Ukraine while it is at war has already changed my outlook in life.
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Living in a country that’s at war changes the way you think, it changes your perspective on everything! It infiltrates your daily life like a bad rash. The harder you try to pretend it’s not there the more you become aware of its presence!
It’s amazing how quickly what seemed like a vital aspect of life can become meaningless! In general the better life is the more insignificant man’s priorities become.
What I mean is things like losing that extra ten pounds or searching for the latest Fall fashions or making sure you don’t miss the latest episode of Game of Thrones will always take a back seat when your life is in the balance!
In a way this change in priorities is good, it wakes up the soul! It boils life down to the basics, it removes the fog of pleasure and prosperity and focuses the mind one thing -staying alive! Whether it is protecting your own life or giving of your life to protect others!
I believe this pruning of priorities is useful for the church. What I’ve seen in Eastern Ukraine is churches that are no longer concerned with music styles and sermons that run overtime! Instead their consumed with the ministry of taking care of those who are left. Of providing physical and spiritual aid the elderly, the disabled and those who are spiritually broken.
Through the pain they now see clearly what God has called them to do! It’s a beautiful agony that produces an ache in the soul that says,
“Lord how can I serve?”
Long-term plans are thrown out the window
Western society is a culture of big plans. From the time I was a young man, my parents and my teachers taught me the importance of planning ahead. I’ve sat down in many meetings with different groups for hours as we’ve hammered out plans for the entire year or even the next five or ten years!
I’m not against planning but one thing I’m starting to recognize is that all planning is based on one primary assumption:
Everything will remain the same!
In war no one assumes that everything will just keep on going on as it always has. War teaches us that:
- Everything is temporary, especially peace!
- Everything is conditional (The saying here is “I’ll see you later if the Russians don’t come.”)
- Concern is for the next day or the next week, not the next year.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
The idea of peace takes on new meaning
Peace is one of those words that everyone can agree upon. Talk to anyone in Ukraine and they will tell you that more than anything they want peace! Talk to the separatists and they will tell you the same thing. Listen to Putin or Poroshenko or Obama and they will all tell you that their greatest goal is peace!
But there is no peace!
If everyone wants peace, why don’t we have it?
Wanting peace is never enough! Desiring peace and telling others how much you want it is like my kids telling me they’re hungry. They can tell me they want to eat all they want but if there’s not food in the house or no one is willing to prepare a meal then they will remain hungry!
Peace isn’t something that just naturally exists in the air we breath. Peace is earned, peace is made, peace requires hard work and sacrifice!
In order for there to be peace there must be people who are willing to sacrifice something for that peace!
But that’s not the only problem. You see people do want peace and some are willing to work for it. Unfortunately every one wants peace on their own terms! They’re ready for peace as long as it means that their terms are met, that they have been satisfied by the other side! As long as neither side is willing to submit, there will be no peace!
The conclusion is simple, eventually there will be peace in Eastern Ukraine but like the current ceasefire, it will be temporary!
Because all peace is temporary! Finite leaders are limited in their ability to provide anything, nonetheless peace! I pray that God gives wisdom to the leadership of Ukraine, I pray that soon there will be peace in Eastern Ukraine, I pray that six months or a year from now I can travel to Lughansk and Donetsk and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ there!
Yet, I know one truth!
Only Jesus can provide permanent peace!
This war has given me a new perspective on Jesus as a king, as a political ruler who will bring absolute peace! He’s already doing this in the hearts and souls of individuals every day! Won’t it be wonderful when he finally takes the government upon his shoulders and give us complete eternal peace!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
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