Weekly Advent: Peace
By Michael Winkelman
From the book of Acts, in chapter 10 verse 7, it says, “And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually” (New King James Version)
The devout soldier:
Gaius began dressing for his assigned mission, and in so doing surveyed 10 years of service in the Roman army. He winced at the tightness in his shoulders, the result of shield and sword in hand, drill after drill performed to perfect the art of fighting. As he dawned the armor around his torso, he ran his fingers along the scar on his side, the result of a zealot blade in the local marketplace; the zealot paid for the scar with his life. Gaius felt no remorse for the would-be assassin, he had become a hard man after years of military service, he had to be to come this far. Though his joints were tight and damaged from years of fighting in battle formations, though his skin showed evidence of a life lived on the front line, the deepest and most damaging scars that weighed upon Gaius were not physically evident, but were revealed deep inside.
Gaius sheathed his sword and the sound brought immediate images of battle. He could feel the sweat running into his eyes as he gasped for air and held his shield on line against the enemy horde. He could feel the mud give way underneath his feet as the horde continued to push against the Roman battle formation. The smells of war came alive as the memories flooded his mind. The rich sound of metal clanging, arrows whistling through the air, and the cries of men fighting and dying drowned out everything else around Gaius at that moment. The images of war are what haunted him most, of his dearest friends breathing their last before they slipped into darkness. Gaius could not hide from the mental and spiritual scars of battle, and frankly he was exhausted. He sought rest, he was searching for peace, and he could not find it.
Even in the religion of his master, Cornelius the centurion, he could not find the inner peace he was searching for. Gaius felt a draw towards the religion, and he diligently pursued it with his master, for there was something within Gaius that told him to keep pursuing the God of the Jews. And now, Cornelius sent him on this special mission. Gaius strapped on his last piece of armor and began the journey to Joppa to fetch this man named Peter. He traveled with the other servants in search of this man, and wondered what the day would hold. Indeed it began as an exciting day when Cornelius explained to him the vision of the angel. Gaius made contact with Peter and explained to him Cornelius’s vision and the angel’s command for Peter to come and speak to these Gentiles what God would have him speak. The journey back to Cornelius’ household was uneventful, though Gaius wondered how a mighty angel of the Lord would have him fetch a simple fisherman.
Cornelius gathered close relatives, friends and servants inside his home to hear what Peter was going to say. Gaius anxiously stood near his master, interested in what would be said, but also cautious as he scanned the room. He was called to wait on Cornelius continually, this included his master’s protection, and he was concerned for the room was packed with people. Peter and Cornelius both spoke to explain this meeting between Jew and Gentile … then, Peter began to preach the Gospel.
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:34-43)
Gaius heard the words of Peter, he heard the name of Jesus Christ, he heard the Gospel, and believed. He was speechless, indeed not even a voiceless word could be uttered within his mind, for he had surrendered himself completely to the words spoken by Peter. Gaius felt an incredible weight lift from his shoulders that he did not know was there. It was like there were heavy chains that were hung around his shoulders, chains he chose to drag along day by day by day until he forgot they were even there. But now, they were gone! Gaius felt incredible power fill his body as he spoke in tongues and magnified God with everyone else in the household. But the most incredible attribute of the Presence that now resided deep within Gaius was something he had been searching for tirelessly … peace. The presence of God, the Holy Spirit, brought Gaius that peace he was searching for. It was like the darkness of those memories were encroaching upon him, but that Presence was a mighty fire inside of him that cast out the darkness. For Gaius, Christ was peace, the Lord Jesus Christ is our peace.
From the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 2 verses 13 and 14 and says, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
About the Author:
Michael Winkelman is former US Army Airborne and a current Law Enforcement Officer. Mikey works as a Patrol Sergeant, SWAT Team Leader, and Firearms Instructor. Mikey is also the author of Sing Your Warsong, Christian! A beautiful and powerful devotional written for a fellow brother-in-arms. We highly suggest you snag a copy!