Sleep has not been a friend to me tonight.
I hate nights like tonight, when I am awakened and then restless the rest of the night. I went for a walk, I’ve read some, but I still can’t seem to settle. At least, not enough so as to go back to sleep.
There was an uprising in my small hometown yesterday. Fairfield, Iowa is the location of Maharishi International University. They are best known for their belief that they can obtain perfect peace through meditation, thus raising their consciousness to a place where they can levitate. I know, unless you grew up in the town, it’s a really strange thing to think about. But twice a day, meditators make their way to a couple of domes where they participate in this meditation.
There’s another group in Vedic City (which is what the area of town that the University is in, is called) that houses pandits or pundits. These are people who have specialized in four different areas (I’m not sure what the areas are) and have arrived (mostly from India) in our town in order to meditate and chant all day long for world peace.
Yesterday, that “peace” was disrupted.
Though news reports are not completely clear on what started it, a riot broke out in the pandit campus. A riot that included surrounding a local sheriff’s car (who had been called to the scene to help) and smashing the back window with rocks, kicking out the tail light and rocking the car back and forth. This group of agitated pandits then proceeded to knock down a gate and start down the road as a mass group. Back-up was called from several different areas, including the fire department. The group was eventually calmed and persuaded to return to their compound.
Now, remember, this is a group whose sole purpose is to meditate together all day in order to achieve world peace.
So I got to thinking about peace–what it looks like, what it means. I know that sometimes peace is elusive for my own soul. Tonight being an example of that, as I’ve wandered around awake most of the night.
But I have also known moments of real peace-peace in the midst of circumstances that are not peaceful. Peace when I would normally be panicked. Peace when my soul has been settled.
And I was reminded of this verse in John 14:27:
Jesus knew His time to go to His Father was near. He also knew that this would greatly distress His disciples. So, in one of His last times of teaching and being with His friends, He shared with them these words. Yes, He was leaving, but not without leaving his peace with them. This peace was not peace that is known in this world–it’s a completely different kind of peace. It’s a peace that comes from knowing the Gospel. It’s a peace that comes from knowing God. And Jesus told them, because he knew they would be afraid, to not let their hearts (souls) be troubled or afraid.
These words were not meant just for the disciples. No, they were also meant for all believers that were to come. The peace that God gives us is not the peace the world gives us. Because no matter how hard or how much the pandits meditate and chant, world peace is not going to happen. Peace in this world is not going to happen.
I realize this is a controversial subject, especially for those of us who grew up in this small town in Iowa. But I also know that real peace is possible through Jesus Christ. Not by following a man, such as the Maharishi, and not by meditating, though that may certainly bring a modicum of peace to a person’s life temporarily.
As a believer, I do not always “feel” peaceful. I do not “feel” peaceful after this short night. In fact, I’m rather stirred up in my mind. However, in my soul I know these words from Jesus to be truth. I don’t always get it right. I am troubled often and fear much. But when I allow God to work on my mind and my soul through real prayer and scripture work, I know that He settles me. And I can sense His peace settling inside of my troubled mind and fearful soul.