The Day Peace Was Signed

It was 5:00 am in the cold November woods of northeast France where officials gathered in a rail car to sign the papers that ended WW1. Word immediately went out by telegram that all fighting would stop at 11:00 am. A final shot was fired from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at that exact moment, and peace finally reigned in Europe. The following year, after much negotiating, the more famous Treaty of Versailles was signed. The spot where the Nov.11th papers were signed has been preserved. The rail car was taken to Germany in WW2, but it was destroyed as the war came to a close. Pieces of it were kept, and a replacement placed back on that spot in the forest.

The war has often been called the bloodiest in history. About 23 million soldiers were killed and another 18 million were wounded. Canada lost 61,000 soldiers, and 172,000 came home wounded. These are mind-boggling figures. It’s no wonder that Armistice Day was proclaimed across the British Empire in 1919, originally observed on the first Monday of the Nov.11th week, combined with Thanksgiving in Canada. In 1928, the Canadian government declared Nov.11th at 11:00 am to be Remembrance Day, observed yearly. We remember all those who lost their lives, and what it took to bring peace.

God brought us peace at another cold, lonely spot in 33 ad. The sacrifice was so powerful, it never has to be offered again. “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). It was the day peace was arranged between God and man. It has the potential to save every human being alive, if they would only turn to Him in obedient faith. Pens and treaties can be powerful, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is decisive. No one knows the actual spot where the cross stood. Some claim pieces of it exist, but there is no proof. Unlike the monuments that help us remember war’s casualties, we have only the Word of God to tell us what He did to save us. In a way, it is more fitting and powerful.

And today, as every Sunday, we remember.

– Tim Johnson

And His Sleep Left Him

A woman complained on Facebook that her life seemed backwards; she got up in the morning tired and went to bed at night wide awake. Does that sound familiar? How many times have you been robbed of a good night’s sleep because you just can’t shut your mind down?

The Bible tells us that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a hard time getting some rest. He remained awake at night, and when he did manage to go to sleep his dreams disturbed him. He “had dreams and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.” (Daniel 2:1) He complained a few years later, “I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.” (Dan.4:4-5)

Lots of things can affect sleep: pain and medical conditions, personal tragedies, or even too much coffee. It seems Nebuchadnezzar’s problem was that he didn’t know God and all the worries of his kingdom weighed on him. He was proud and arrogant. People like that think everything depends on them. No wonder they can’t sleep!

But if you believe in God and His care, sleep is much more peaceful. Half the things we worry about never really happen, and the other half can simply be handed over to God and his wisdom. David – another busy king – said, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

Before you lie down at night take time to pray to God and tell Him, “Here, Lord, I hand all my worries over to you for the night.” Then tell your brain that it has no need to think about them. Oh, and make sure you thank God for accepting your worries.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Are you sleeping well?

– Tim Johnson

A Living Hope

A LIVING HOPE

The Prairies can be a lonely place, but it was especially so for Tom Sukanen, a Finnish immigrant who moved to Saskatchewan over 100 years ago. He’d walked 600 miles from Minnesota, where his family waited for him to later return and get them. Seven years later he did, but his wife had passed away and all his children had been placed in foster homes. Alone, he returned to his homestead near the South Saskatchewan River. He dreamed of returning to Finland and, having been trained as a shipbuilder, decided to build a sea-going vessel he could sail up the river to Hudson’s Bay, then across the Atlantic. The Great Depression hit, and at great sacrifice, he managed to build his craft in sections, moving each by himself 17 miles to the river. The heaviest piece needed help, and no one would lend a hand. He sank into depression, especially after vandals stole some of the metal parts. Institutionalized in a hospital, he died in 1943. Decades later, the community organized a museum and Tom’s ship is the crowning piece. You can visit it today, just southwest of Moose Jaw.

Sukanen’s sad story teaches us many things, but one thing stands out: the futility of unreasonable hopes. While we all would wish for Tom’s success, there were just too many obstacles. It’s different with the hope that every Christian carries in his heart – to live again after death and enter heaven. Peter put it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) He emphasized that it is A LIVING HOPE. It’s not an impossible, and therefore unreasonable hope. Jesus Himself rose again, demonstrating forever that the coming resurrection will indeed take place. Our hope is real, and it will not fail.

– Tim Johnson

Security and Care

People everywhere are working hard to build security. Young families long to own a home. School graduates search for good jobs. Broken homes scramble to find their footing again. The poor try to make ends meet. Even the rich worry about the future.

Notice what Jesus said one day when he described his followers as sheep: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)

Security is more than owning a house or money in your pocket. Too many non-material things can knock our lives down – like illness, cruelty, loneliness, lack of opportunities, and plain bad luck. God wants to give us a type of security that can withstand even these.

In our scripture about the sheep, two great things stand out. The first is that God gave His sheep to Jesus. After saving people from their sins and failures, He hands them over to His Son for safekeeping and care. It’s like the owner of the flock arranging the best care possible. Not just anybody will do; God wants the best shepherd for his sheep, and we get that in Jesus.

The second thing we can draw from our verse is that God Himself protects us from those who would “snatch them out of His hand.” Shepherds go to battle for their sheep when any danger arises. We have the best security possible in life because God does that for us. Of course, we have responsibilities too if this is going to work (verse 27): “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

All of us want security in life and to experience the care we need to thrive. Are you looking for it in the right place?

– Tim Johnson

In the Hospital Food Court

From time to time I have to wait in the hospital food court. It is a place where a full range of human conditions can be seen. Boisterous nurses crowd around a table, indifferent officials punch away on their phones, patients in gowns seek some space away from their rooms, anxious families huddle in corners, and worried people sit alone with coffee. Other than a few noisy conversations, it’s a sombre place full of difficult needs.

Jesus often walked into places like that. In John 5 He entered an area around a pool protected from the weather by roofed-over columns. “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered.” (v3) While He only healed one man, word spread quickly that the Master of healing was at hand. Mobs of needy cases soon sought Him out, and He gladly made them well. Mark records, “ …for He had healed many with the result was that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.” (Mk.3:10)

Jesus brought to Palestine a marvelous sense of hope. People came from everywhere to find His help and hear His words. Sadly, it only lasted a few years before He went back to heaven. His miraculous abilities didn’t have to continue for long, for the message was complete: Here is One who always stands by to help us. The Hebrew writer said, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (2:18) And, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (4:16)

Jesus may not heal a man from disease or injury now, but He arranges mercy and grace to help us with anything that weighs life down. Even in a hospital food court.

– Tim Johnson