The Peace of Christmas

Peace.

The response of every beauty pageant. The hope of every generation. The promise that came from a baby born in Bethlehem.

Harmony…freedom from fear…no war.

We understand peace and yet we don’t. We understand what it is like when we experience harmony among family and friends, but we don’t understand harmony of every tribe, tongue, and culture without judgement or condemnation or hate. We understand freedom from fear of certain circumstances like growing out of the fear of the dark or of spiders–or not–but we don’t understand freedom from all fears including death and loss and insecurities. We understand what it means to not be at war but we don’t understand what it means to be free from war within ourselves.

The peace of Christmas is a peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The peace of Christmas is the closest we can ever come to truly understanding those aspects of peace that are so foreign. We hope, we pray, and we long to understand.

Peace came to earth in the form of a baby, born to a teenage, single mom, wrapped in burial cloths, and laid in a feed trough.

As a mom of two little girls, I don’t instinctively see peace at the sight of a baby. I see sleepless nights and exhausting days. I see the struggle to understand those things that are supposed to be so natural and yet never really are. I see the fear that comes at every waking moment, knowing that something terrible could happen to your child–your baby.

But I can equally reflect on the sight of my babies, especially as newborns in those first couple of hours. The gentle breaths as they quietly snore. The way that their eyelashes lay on their cheeks in perfection. The look of utter innocence, trusting that they can sleep soundly because they just know that they will be cared for. There is no fear–there is peace. That beautiful picture of unadulterated peace.

While the initial picture of peace through a baby seems like an intense juxtaposition, there is that beautiful moment between the tiredness and strain of new motherhood where your heart swells in such intense love and peace in that moment that it all becomes clear.

The peace of Christmas is a promise of the hope that is to come for all the world. But until that day it is the peace that can come from a personal relationship with Jesus. That peace which surpasses all understanding.

As we close out this advent season I pray that you will find peace. I pray that peace will fill your hearts and your homes. I pray that you will relish both the hope of perfect peace in the future and the promise of peace available through Jesus today.

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Distractions {Romania Devotional 2}

Life has become a little distracting from itself.  Here’s what I mean.  We have created an environment where texting one person while talking face to face with someone else is considered normal.  We sit on our laptops or tablets while also watching t.v.  We talk on the phone while “playing” with the kids.

I realize that I’m not that old, but I do remember life before cell phones and the internet.  What I remember is being able to read a book in the quiet and not feel like there has to be noise coming from somewhere.  I remember playing games with my family and no one was doing something else.  We were invested in that moment.

I was once told that Satan uses God’s blessings to distract us from the one who gave them to us in the first place.

The past couple weeks, even my own kiddos have become a distraction.  They aren’t doing anything wrong, but I’m allowing the general responsibilities of taking care of a family to trump my quiet time and creates a situation where it is almost natural to put my kids above God.

Preparing for my week in Romania, I want to check my heart of those distractions.  Even the good things can be a hindrance.  The story of Martha and Mary is the perfect example.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-41, NLT)
Martha wasn’t doing something wrong, or bad. She just wasn’t doing what was best.
 
So what can we do?  When I come home, I will still need to take care of my home.  Care for my children.  What can be done to keep the distractions from interfering with Jesus?
I find that worry often accompanies distractions.  Am I doing enough?  Am I messing it all  up?
 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV<– this is my life verse on a side note)
1. What things (good or bad) are distracting you from hearing God in this moment?
2. How can you use God’s peace to better serve him while in Romania?
3. How can you continue to live a life bathed in that peace of God?  What will being still in God do for your testimony at home?
 
“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
 
Praying that the hearts of our team will be quieted that we can hear you speak, o God.  May we not seek you in the fire or the earthquake, but that we will allow you to quiet our souls and quiet the distractions that we can hear you in the gentle whisper of the wind. Jesus, shower us in your peace that surpasses all understanding.  Let us seek to sit at your feet even when there is much to do.  Honor our devotion and allow our testimony to change the hearts of those around us. ~Amen.

Running to the answers.

I love that I serve a God who works in ways that I don’t understand.  Why?  Well, it’s pretty simple really.  You see, I don’t see the point in serving (worshiping) something I understand because if I get it all, what’s the point in putting that thing/person/being above myself?  I know that I am broken and a hot mess, so if what I am serving is no better than my mess, what hope is there?

Here’s my point.  God works in great and mysterious ways.  And as His ways are better than my ways, I need to get past my broken self and look to he that can put me back together.

God and I went running tonight.  That may sound funny, but I’m serious.  I hate running.  I know, I know, you shouldn’t hate, but I really really hate running…with a deep simmering passion.  It hurts; it’s not fun; and quite frankly, no matter how much I run, I still suck at it (I’m ecstatic when I can run a mile without stopping…I’m such a hypocrite as a coach but oh well).  But as I went out for a run tonight after fighting a migraine this morning and coming off of 3 nights of very minimal sleep due to a 6 month old with a cold, I wasn’t expecting much.  I wasn’t expecting to really run, I was just getting in some semblance of exercise.  After the first 1/4 mile, I laid it on the table.  I told God that I have talked a lot lately.  I have complained, I have petitioned, he knew my heart and those things that were heavy on my heart so I needed to stop talking and actually take the time to listen.  For the next part of my run, I was literally just running with God.  I felt his presence with me and we just jogged together.  There was no amazing revelation, but it was time basking in his glory–even while doing something that I typically despise.  Then he spoke.

God began comforting me, giving me words to guide me and ultimately give me a prophesy for my family.  The stress that this week and weekend had built up melted away and I was able to find myself in the presence of my Savior and my King.

There are still things that I must do to see the blessings that God promised, but as I seek him, he draws nearer to me.  As I rest in Him, he will take my burden.  As I find peace in Him, the path and direction that we are so desperately seeking will be made clear to us.  And in turn, God will anoint our family.

I have an answer and I know that I have a long way to go, but more than anything, I know that my God is with me.  I know that I am a living temple for the Spirit and he has poured his Spirit out on me.  And for that I can rejoice and be glad.

All glory to GOD in the highest and peace be to men.