A Different Kind of Peace

Every year at Christmas time, the images of peace start to pop up.  More than any other time of year, the message of peace resonates in the hearts of believers because of the reminder of who we are soon celebrating.  The peace giver.  The promise of peace that comes with the celebrations of sweet baby Jesus lying in a manger is a decade’s old tradition that we love to revel in.  Even now, I think of warm cups of cocoa, mittens, and the backdrop of Christmas carols.

Except this year is so different.  This year, amidst all the chaos that was 2020, we are now faced with lonely holidays to keep our extended families safe.  This year, instead of gathering for tree lightings and Christmas Eve services that focus on bringing us together, we will be intentionally staying apart.  To me, that doesn’t feel the same as every other Christmas.  It certainly doesn’t feel like something that resembles peace. 

The thing about peace though, is that it isn’t dependent on my circumstances, it’s dependent on my Savior. 

 The way things are going doesn’t nullify what has already happened. 

In fact, some of the brokenness and helplessness that we are feeling right now might even lead us to a place where we can experience peace, true peace, in a new way.  Perhaps more so than ever before.

I am reminded of a story from the gospel of Matthew.  In chapter 8:23-27, we read about a different kind of peace.  

                        Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked, “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

If you aren’t familiar with the story, let me remind you of a couple of things.  First, many of the disciples were experienced fishermen.  These were the very waters they grew up on.  They were used to harsh weather, it was part of life.  But this wasn’t any ordinary storm.  The words you see, “fierce storm” actually refer to a storm more like a hurricane.  And think about this…. Hurricanes were not normal for the Sea of Galilee.  This was no ordinary storm.  As the disciples started to worry, you can hear the desperation in their voices as they are overwhelmed with the fear of drowning.  It felt like they were going to drown.  Fishermen.  Who knew these waters.  Who were familiar with storms.  Who were experienced in keeping boats afloat.  What it felt like was that it was all going to fall apart.  

As Jesus gets up and calms the storm, the fear that they had was now replaced with peace.  They at once recognize his power over nature.  There is something more I want us to consider though.  These were Jewish men who knew the Torah.  All Jews knew the stories of the Torah.  What they knew was that Yahweh, God, was the only one who had control over nature.  What they were witnessing was God’s presence in that very boat with them.

What does this tell us?  Well, it doesn’t tell us that there won’t be storms.  It kind of tells us the opposite.  There will be things that surprise us.  Things that don’t make sense.  Things that we feel like our experience and our community have prepared us for.  Things that feel scary and overwhelming.  Things that we will be helpless against. 

The promise in all of this?  Jesus.  Jesus is with us in the storm.  Even when it feels like you are going to drown, His very presence is enough to calm our hearts.  I don’t think the promise leads us to a place where we can just hold onto the boat and hope everything will be ok.  Instead, I think the promise leads us to a place where we can truly experience peace because He is with us in the storm.

So this year.  2020.  The year that makes no sense.  The year that keeps surprising us with each news cycle.  The year that has brought division and fear, and loneliness. 

He is with us.  Yahweh.  God with us.  That’s the promise of peace that comes with Christmas.  

Jesus.  He will never leave us alone in the boat.  And for me?  That’s the only gift I need.

The Promise of Hope

Promise.

The promise of hope is something we have all been longing for this year.  Hope that next month will be different.  Hope that this virus will go away.  Hope that our efforts with social distancing and masks will be worth the effort.  Hope that a vaccine will help things get back to normal sooner rather than later.  

The promise of hope, as much as it keeps us going, also has a downside.  

Waiting.  

The thing about a promise is that it also means, “not yet.”  If there is a promise that something is coming, something will be made right, it usually means eventually….just not right now. 

A promise is sometimes hard to live with.  There is a tension between longing for something that hasn’t happened yet and still dealing with what’s happening currently.  

The promise of hope that we celebrate at Christmas, however, is a little bit different.

As Jesus came to earth to rescue us from our own mess, He also left us with a promise.  He will be back.  But in this case, He left us with the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us until He gets back.  Because of that, the promise goes from being “not yet” to the “already, not yet.” 

What does this mean?  Well, exactly what it says.  We already have the presence of the Holy Spirit, even though we are still in this fallen world.  It is not yet redeemed.  So while we wait, we can already stand in the confidence of knowing we don’t have to do it alone.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  John 14:15-21 NIV

Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to help us.  This means that we don’t have to wait in the same way the world does.  As we wait, be can have the confidence to know that He is with us, helping us in the waiting.  

The promise of Christmas is the presence of Christ.  

As we look ahead, in the waiting and the hoping, let’s remember that we already have access to the one that holds our hope in His hands.

Be Blessed,


Rachael

I am Enough for You

Photo by Efdal YILDIZ on Pexels.com

Yesterday while walking through Walmart, my oldest daughter pulled me aside to whisper something to me. 

“Your dad is in the next aisle over.  He saw us but kept walking.”

“Are you sure?” I asked her, hoping maybe she was wrong.  

“It was him.  He has his COVID mask on, but I know it’s him.  He looked me in the eyes.”

A knot was instantly in the pit of my stomach.  Should I follow him and say something?  It’s one thing for him to ignore me, but quite harder for this momma bear to deal with him ignoring my kids.  They are amazing, and the fact that he wants nothing to do with them makes my heart feel like it was ripped in two.

“No.”  The voice, to my relief, interrupted my now spiraling thoughts.  It was the voice of the Holy Spirit.  “I am your father.  Remember whose you are.”

I wish I could say this was the first time this happened,  but unfortunately it isn’t.  It keeps happening.  I wish I could even say it gets easier each time, but it doesn’t.  The sting that hits my eyes almost instantly still catches me off guard each time.  

It’s not that I haven’t tried.  I have.  I have called….. so. many. times.  I have dropped off gifts.  I have sent letters.  I have shown up unexpectedly.  Each time, with some childlike hope that maybe this time, this time it would be different.  It never is.

I remember one time, after hanging up from another unanswered phone call, the complete feeling of rejection that started to wash over my heart.  The Lord interrupted my thoughts then, too.  

“Its the responsibility of the father to pursue a relationship with the child.  Not the other way around.”

Wow.  I had never considered that before.  But we see it in Scripture.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 JOHN 4:19 NLT

Every time I tried and was rejected, it seemed to compound the hurts that came before it.  But this time, as the Lord spoke this into my heart, it started to reach a space that I had kept closed off for so long. 

“Perhaps I am keeping you from something, protecting you.  I can redeem ALL things!  You have seen me do it!  Don’t you think that if I wanted you to have this relationship in your life, I would see that and help you?  Don’t doubt me daughter.”

It was one of the most candid moments of hearing the Lord speak.  Part loving discipline and part rescue from the longing.  Certainly the one who restores could have mended this relationship if He wanted to.  It’s not like there hand’t been opportunity or willingness on my part. 

Almost immediately, an image of a long buried trauma surfaced.  I had forgotten it, that’s how buried it was.  It was almost as if the wind was knocked out of me.  I had forgotten the pain of that moment until now.  This was why….. this was why God was protecting me from that relationship.  All these years I had cried out to God to give me something that wasn’t good for me.  All these years I carried the burden of being the “Christian” that “should” keep trying.  All these years, it was my heavenly Father who was protecting me from something I didn’t even remember.  

I love you, daughter.  That will never change.  I have adopted you as my own, and have been pursuing you, for your entire life.

I am enough for you.”

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 NLT

The truth is, I am a daughter of the King.  He pursued me because He wanted a relationship with me because it is what He wanted to do.  It wasn’t forced up on Him.  I didn’t need to chase Him down.  He didn’t look past me.  

He sent Jesus to come get me.

As we face a season of socially distant holiday celebrations, perhaps this will be the year that we understand not just who we are, but whose we are.  My prayer for you in this season is that you will realize how incredible His love for you is.

A daughter of the King,

Rachael

Rachael is a Missionary with Children of the Nations, a global orphan care organization.  She works hard to help children all over the globe know that they are loved by God.  You can keep up with her at her blog shehears.org