Recently my youngest son swapped out his favorite nightly song list. As I tuck him in each night, I sing him three songs of his choosing. The B-I-B-L-E and He’s God the Whole World in His Hands used to be among his favorites, but I suppose recently he has grown tired of them. Suddenly, this month, he requested some new tunes. His updated nightly list includes the “Where?” song (aka Down in My Heart), Jesus in the Boat, and he now ends his personal playlist with “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” This child clearly has a Mama who was raised in the 80’s!
Peace like a river. Are rivers peaceful? Some are peaceful like a lazy river, but others flow like an untamed torrent, creating rapids and crashing waterfalls. Still, Isaiah writes about Jerusalem this way:
For this is what the LORD says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;”Isaiah 66:12a NIV
God promises to bring peace to Jersualem like a flowing river. I love this quote by Beth Moore about peace: “God’s peace is like a river, not a pond. It is not stagnant. It is not confined. It moves. It forges tributaries. It breaks in. Brings life.”
God’s peace breaks into our lives like an undeserved gift of grace. In fact, when announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, the angels sang not just about joy coming to the world, but also peace:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”Luke 2: 13 – 14 NIV
Peace to those on whom his favor rests.
On this second week of the Advent season, as we consider the candle of peace, let’s look more deeply at the meaning of peace. The noun “peace” can have two different definitions:
- freedom from disturbance; tranquility
- a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended
Often when I consider peace, I think of the first definition and dream of blissful tranquility. (Mom-life has me dreaming of this form of peace often!) I believe that most people in our culture would define peace as a lack of anxiety, a moment of calm, or an internal centeredness. Although as believers we do have moments of this kind of tranquility, I’m not sure the Christian life is meant to be lived free from disturbance.
So, the second definition may also deserve our attention. Peace can also be a “state in which a war has ended.” Perhaps, when the angels sang of peace, they were not just promising tranquility, but also declaring that the war would soon be over.
The angels’ declaration of peace was not to everyone. It was only to those “on whom his favor rests.” In other words, those who believe in the Son. For the children of God, there is no more war between life and death. No more wrath between God and man. No more debt to be paid. When Jesus came, He paid the price for our sin and gave us access to the Father God. We have been given the gift of peace.
Life may not always be tranquil on the outside, but our war is over. We are at peace with God. He is doing a new thing, moving in our lives, making tributaries, and bringing life. He carries us through grief, fear, and suffering, and promises a peace that passes all understanding. (Phillipians 4:7)
That kind of peace, friends, is a beautiful Christmas gift indeed.
Pause: If you have a few moments, practice praying a centering prayer based off of the angels’ proclamation. Inhale slowly and say, “Glory to God.” Exhale slowly, and say, “Peace on Earth.” Repeat 5-7 times. If you want to enjoy a song about peace, listen to Casting Crown’s rendition of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.
Renew: Take some time to meditate on or journal about how Christ, the Prince of Peace, brought peace to us. How is His peace flowing and bringing new life?
Next: Thank the Lord this week for His gift of peace to you. Keep your eyes open for examples of peace in your life.
May the Prince of Peace forge rivers and tributaries of peace in your life.
Pause, Renew, Next!