the peace of keeping the darkness at bay {guest post Luke Harms}

When Luke writes about peace, I listen. When he writes about his wife, I want to drive down to Virginia and spend time with their whole family. His wisdom is no armchair theorizing or Pollyanna naivete: Luke went to war and came home a fighter for the Kingdom of God. I'm grateful to host his powerful words here today. Welcome, Luke.

there is darkness in me

pictures of torn flesh, broken bodies
echoes of gunshots, explosions, sirens
memories of dead friends, dead enemies, dead kids
and the numbness of not being able to care

this darkness runs deep

like an icy brook, it flows through every part of me
running through shoulders and arms to hands that would strike blows
rushing through hips and knees to feet that would run to battle
and crashing through tongue and teeth to a mouth that would speak death

but there is light in me

reflections of the One who is greater, truer, nobler
of the One who seeks to restore, to heal, to redeem
the One whose love casts out fear
and whose hope renews all things

this light runs deeper still

it brings life where there was only death
hope where there was only despair
it pushes down and beats back the darkness
leaving behind that blessed companion:



"What kind of person does that?" and "Who wants a murderer for a father?"

I threw the questions like stones. She sat and listened while the darkness washed over me.

She had seen me at my darkest before. I was fully in it, and she could tell. Eyes dead and lifeless, voice cold and distant, this wasn't me, it was that cold, deep darkness. This was every terrible thing I had seen and every terrible thing I had done wrapping itself around me and choking the life out of me. I could not see, feel, hear or remember anything but this darkness that had become my constant companion.

But she was ready.

She stayed. And she listened. She saw me. She heard me. And when she opened her mouth to speak, the Holy Dove came to rest on her shoulder as she said,

"You. Are. More."

She went on, and her words were light and life and comfort and healing and all of the things that I hadn't felt in nearly a decade, and in that moment, in pushing back that darkness and making room for the light of redemption to shine in and reclaim what had been lost to darkness, as the One himself said,

she was a peacemaker.
she was a Child of God.

And I realized what it meant to make peace, to be ready and willing to step into the breach and keep the darkness at bay. The same way I had been intentional in making war, making peace requires sacrifice, cultivation, reprogramming.


As warriors, we trained for war. We didn't go to war without an understanding of exactly what it was we were there to do. We were there to visit great and terrible violence upon those who would oppose us, and we were well versed in the means and methods of that violence.

As peacemakers, we must train even more, so that the darkness might not overwhelm. If peace is to come, we must seek first that Kingdom whose Prince is Peace. We are here to visit great and terrible grace on those who need it, and we must be well-versed in the means and methods of that Love that enables and empowers us to keep the darkness at bay.

The constant press of the darkness is always threatening to consume us, but peace is the space that exists where we've pushed the darkness out.

So hone your craft, peacemaker.

Live an ethos of peace with your family, your coworkers, your neighbors...your enemies.
Learn what it means to push back the darkness...not just in and for those you love.
Look for opportunities to make peace...even if it costs you.
Love extravagantly and unreasonably...always.

Luke is a husband, a dad, a Jesus-lover and justice seeker.  He is a former soldier whose life's work seems to be trying to make people understand why he now abhors violence. He is far less serious than some of his writing makes him out to be. Most of all though, he is work in progress. He writes about how the work is progressing regularly at Living in the Tension and also contributes over at A Deeper Family.  

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