Peace beyond our understanding


                        Rabaul - photo Zena Grant-Thomson

“Bye, Robyn!” I called as she headed out to work.
“Have a good day,” she replied.
"I'm planning to go and look at the Chinese shops, and have a walk around near the water," I told her. The joys of holidays!

I combed my damp hair, ready for the day. I was having a relaxing holiday in Rabaul with Robyn, after my year’s teaching on New Ireland.

Suddenly I was enveloped in strong, tangible peace. 
I stood still to enjoy it. The heavy tropical air was moist and hot but I no longer noticed it pressing on my skin. All I could feel was this wonderful peace. 

This must be the peace that passes all understanding the Bible mentions, I thought.
I felt so calm. So strong.
If I always felt like this, I could do anything, I thought. I could cope with anything at all.

My thoughts were interrupted by the screech of tyres in the driveway. Footsteps clattered up the steps. My brother-in-law's black curly hair and worried face appeared at the door.
“Michael!” I exclaimed. “I thought you and Arlene were in Tufabi.” (Tufabi is on a different island from  Rabaul.)
“Your sister’s in hospital,” Michael said. “She’s very sick. She might be going to die.”
 “The doctor sent her here as a medical emergency” – “life-threatening infection” – “she was green” – Michael’s voice hurried on, blurting out Arlene’s symptoms anxiously.

All through those terrible words and the quick explanation following, I remained bathed in that supernatural peace. For a moment my mind swam with horror, but I felt no fear - only normal concern.

“I’ll pick you up in ten minutes,” Michael said and drove off.

I hurried to my room and sank to my knees. “Father, is she going to – die?” I asked.

The peace grew stronger. A gentle presence like a fine silk shawl rested over me.

Clear, quiet words filled my mind. 
She will not die. 

Relief flooded me.
Quickly I packed a few things she might need. I was ready when Michael arrived back. 
We drove quickly through beautiful Rabaul.

   Rabaul - pic Rose Glanville

The hospital ward seemed strangely dim. 
Was it really poorly lit – or was it ‘dimmed out’ by my emotions? I’ll never know.
Arlene lay there, her face a yellow-green colour against the white pillow case. Dark-skinned nurses slipped silently around her, adjusting her drip, her sheets.

I talked to her and prayed for her, then left quietly. All the time, I felt a strong Presence holding me up, and that amazing peace sustaining me.

With good medical help Arlene gradually recovered and after a week or two was back in Tufabi.

I have always been thankful for that supernatural peace that enabled me to do all I had to during that time and to do it calmly, without my own fear affecting Arlene. And that peace enabled me to pray for her with real faith.

It was a little miracle, too, that God had me there in Rabaul of all places, during Arlene’s crisis, after I’d spent a year on New Ireland.
                                            Rabaul from the air - Zena Grant-Thomson


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