I was trying to fall asleep last night when my mind began to “spin”. I think you know what I mean by that, but just in case you don’t let me describe it a bit. One thought starts, “How am I going to get all this shopping done and travel between Thanksgiving and Christmas?”. “How many cards am I sending?” “I wonder, if those bigger envelopes need more postage?” “How can I be thinking of this when my friend’s house burned to the ground 2 weeks ago- she and her whole city!” “What am I going to wear to get my hair cut tomorrow?” “What can I do about the refugees in Afghanistan?” “Should we drive to our cousin’s house on Thanksgiving Day even though it’s raining?” What will I wear to my granddaughter’s recital in 2 weeks?” etc. etc. Finally the voice calms, I rehearse “The Lord is my Shepherd…” 10-15 times and I seem to hear a faint: “Be Still…” in the recesses of my mind.
We all talk about peace. We long for it. I want “peace” with the people in my family, the people in my neighborhood, my husband, the folks in my church, my kids and I long for peace in my heart. People in war torn places in the world long for peace…the halting of bombs, safety for their families during the day and at night. A peaceful night of sleep would be a miracle for them. Rest from the terrors of never knowing when and where the next violent act will occur is a dream that even some USA city dwellers never quite experience. To be woken in the night with the threat of destruction of home and loved ones is a reality for untold 1000’s…hundreds of thousands.
I just heard of a woman who goes into war-torn areas. She intentionally goes into where the battle is currently raging to offer encouragement, hope and practical help to the women and children. She remembers growing up in a city that was under constant siege and threat of bombings, snipers and eminent danger. Her mother and the other women where the ones who kept life going. Meals, schooling, music, baking, singing. She remembers that it was the women in her life---because the men were at war—who continued to offer hope and love in the midst of the reality of war all around.
The apostle Paul claimed that through what Jesus did on the cross---a sheer act of violence toward an innocent man---we now have “Peace with God”. How is it that the act of Jesus dying on the cross gives us the hope of life and Peace with God? This kind of peace is not dependent on circumstances. This is peace that only comes because Christ paid the price of death—what, in reality, is what we owed because of our own violent and self-centered nature. The death of Christ and then the raising of His body to life on the third day accomplished everything that was needed to bring real peace to the waging war in the human heart. It’s a mystery, and it is true.
You see, even if all the bombs stopped, even if all the snipers were locked away and all our enemies were disarmed, still, there would be the unrest of the human heart that -left unto itself –would be unsettled and violent without God’s gracious love and mercy. Our mind seems to choose only what is best or most beneficial for the self-regardless of how it would affect another. We need peace within. We need a peace- Giver. One who will cover the self-centered battles that are raging within. One who brings hope even in the midst of the battle. I risk the “Sunday school” answer by saying that this is Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life—no one finds true Peace except through Him.
This is the Holiday Season. The Holy Days. They do not seem peaceful. Yet, with every Carole that is blasted through the grocery store speakers or sung from an angelic children’s choir, we are reminded that the Prince of Peace has come to give us peace. Real peace even when the world is violent. Real Peace even when our mind spin’s and races in chaotic circles, wondering what we will wear to yet another holiday event. During my morning prayer time today, I was once more reminded that this peace comes in the form of relationship. The way to “Be Still” is to “Be With.” It is not by deleting the stressful things in my life or moving to a safer neighborhood. Rather, this peace is a transformation of the heart. A transformation only from the One who created Life and Love and Peace. This is my Holy-Days offering: The Baby was Born in Bethlehem. He is the Prince of Peace who came to give us Peace. He said, “Be not Afraid.” He offered, “Be Still and know that I am God.” He claimed, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” His final words to us were, “Peace. My Peace I give to you…I will BE WITH you always.”
May the Peace of Christ be with you and your family now and throughout the year to come.
A Blessed Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all!