Active Faith

Lesson From A Peacemaker

"A peacemaker is predicated on one’s faith in God." by Major Frank Duracher

My Sunday School teacher during my early childhood was a faithful lady we called “Sister Adele.” She was a quiet, peaceful soul who loved the children she taught. I don’t remember her last name. But I remember what she did.

I also remember the back room of our small church my grandparents pastored in New Orleans. The building is no longer there, but it lives on in my memory and often appears in my dreams.

In that back room at the church, our Sunday School room, she used several flip charts on a huge easel. The illustrations coincided with that week’s lesson and looking back now they appeared dated even then.

One week’s lesson was from Genesis 13, when Abraham divided his land with nephew Lot. The lesson she shared explained that there was quarreling going on between uncle and nephew, and between the herdsmen of both groups.

In fact, of all the Sundays in that classroom under Sister Adele’s careful instruction, this story is the one I remember best.

To keep the peace between these factions, Abraham took the high road and offered Lot half of the land they were now inhabiting. The land was promised to Abraham by God.

But families fight. And it must have gotten bad for Abraham to come to this decision. By separating, they could remain somewhat united. At least that’s what was hoped.

Moreover, Lot was allowed to choose whichever part of the land he favored. One half of the land was greener and offered more promise. Sure enough, that’s the half Lot chose.

Now, imagine a nine-year-old boy staring up at this illustration, glued to every word Sister Adele was telling us. There was old Abraham, white haired and a lifetime of experience trusting God. Uncle Abraham points out across the valley, separated by a river.

The generous offer is clear. “You make the choice, Lot,” the old man seems to be saying. “This may be the only way we can keep peace among our people.”

It made a profound impression on me. I can still see it in my mind.

What choice would I make? I decided I would have chosen the better half, of course. It only made sense.

As we returned home, Grandma asked my brother and I what our lesson was that morning. “Today we learned that Lot made a sweet deal by choosing the better land,” I said, proudly.

I could tell by Grandma’s face that I was missing the point. I often did.

“Abraham let Lot choose, because that’s what Jesus would have us do,” she said lovingly.

I had to think about that one. That didn’t make much sense.

Who would turn down the better portion of land? I argued within. And more confusing to me, why would old Abraham be willing to take the lesser half?

I guess Grandma could tell I was a little perplexed. She said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”—drawing from one of the Beatitudes Jesus gave. Looking back over my time with Grandma throughout my childhood and teenage years, I think that verse must have been her favorite.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” she’d recite when family tussles erupted.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” she’d repeat when the evening news spoke of wars and rumors of wars around the world.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” she’d remind me when I fought with my brother.

I confess, that last one was hard for me. Many times, when my brother and I argued, the last thing I wanted to hear was Grandma’s admonition.

“I don’t want to be a peacemaker!” I fumed.

It’s apparent to me now that Sister Adele and Grandma unwittingly formed a “tag team” on me—drilling in me the values that eventually took me into Salvation Army officership. Probably the best lesson is the one about being a peacemaker, even when you don’t want to be.

Jesus never said it would be easy. He just promised that I could do it with His help.

I thank God for a faithful Sunday School teacher like Sister Adele. And I thank God for a loving Grandmother, Agnes Duracher, who patiently drilled into my hard head the heavenly truths that would eventually pierce my heart and take root.

Every now and then, I wonder about Lot’s choice. What would have happened had Lot chose the lesser part? Would God have blessed him as He did Abraham? Would history be very different?

But that’s not what happened.

God knew the hearts of both men. He knew the choice selfish Lot would make. And He knew Abraham’s faith. His covenant promise to Abraham is sure, coming to fruition because of Jesus—the Prince of Peace.

I learned from Abraham, Sister Adele and Grandma that being a peacemaker is predicated on one’s faith in God.

Even when it’s not easy.

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