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Tag: peace

Peace Like a River

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.

Photo by twinsfisch on Unsplash

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!

Rest? Yes please!

It happened in the midst of a crazy month, my sweet lesson on rest.  My husband and I had received a call from social services a couple of weeks prior asking if we would be foster parents to a baby girl who was currently in the NICU.   We prayed and said yes.   It was believed that she would be discharged from the hospital within the week and would be coming home with us.  Disappointingly, she didn’t leave the NICU right away like we had hoped.  Thus, I went into a holding pattern of parenting four children, while trying to find time to spend in the hospital bonding with my new foster daughter.  My emotions were raw and the questions remained unanswered: When would she be released to come home with us? How much time should I be spending with her in the NICU? How could I be in two places at once? The uncertainty went on and on.

One Sunday afternoon, midway through that month,  I was feeling overly emotional, stressed, and exhausted.  We had spent the morning at church and had eaten lunch with our extended family.  My kids were taking their afternoon nap and my husband was at home, so I knew this was my opportunity to spend time with my foster baby.  I lay down on the couch for just a minute, gathering the energy to get back in the van and drive to the hospital.  The next thing I knew, I had been asleep for an hour. As I awoke, I had the distinct impression that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me: “I give sleep to those I love, and you needed rest. She will still be at the hospital when you awake.”

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil:  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Psalm 127:2 ESV

I had been going through the motions, feeling compelled to keep functioning past my exhaustion point.  I was aware that I was beyond tired, but the need of the moment felt too great to allow myself to rest.  The Lord sweetly reminded me that without rest, I could not do the hard things I was called to do.

Isn’t that the way of rest?  We all know we need it, but the many demands placed on us keep us from allowing ourselves to stop.  I’m not just referring to sleep;  I mean real rest.  We need time to disengage, allowing our batteries to be recharged.

Interestingly, we can only rest when we give ourselves permission to do so. God knew the intrinsic battle we would have against rest, so He gave us a Sabbath day and commanded that we take it.   We are designed to need rest, both physically and spiritually.

This weighted blanket is used in my counseling office to help with relaxation.  It provides deep pressure touch that simulates being held, which helps the central nervous system calm down.

Another barrier to being able to rest is stress and anxiety.  Both sleep and relaxation are vulnerable activities. The human body’s fight or flight system is designed to help us survive a real or perceived threat. When there is a threat, the last thing the mind wants to do is let down its guard and go unconscious. Thus, when we are afraid or stressed, it is very hard to rest.  

Feeling safe and loved is an important component to fighting anxiety, because we are designed to be in connection with others in times of stress.  Just as a small child runs to his parents’ room after a nightmare to seek comfort, so we can seek safety and peace from our Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist writes that God is a Comforter and a source of safety for us, so that we can sleep in peace.

 

PauseWhen is the last time that you felt really rested?  What were the elements that helped you feel at rest?  

Renew:  Think of a place that you feel safe, calm, and able to rest.   If you cannot physically go there now, imagine that you are there.  Use your senses – what do you hear, see, feel, and smell in that place? 

Next: Make a plan to set apart time for rest this week.  If one day is not possible, try a few hours, or one hour each day.  Make a plan to exclude those things that keep you from resting (phones, emails, chores) and make it a point to enjoy the absence of those distractions.  If sleep is what you really need, make a plan to take a nap during this time.

Like a toddler rebelling against the nap-time they so desperately need, we fight our need of rest.  In order to be energized and invigorated to carry out our passions and responsibilities, we must make time to be still.  May the Lord teach us more about how to rest, that He may replenish our souls and bodies.

Pause, Renew, Next!

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