There were many ways I was going to start this post. I thought about the angel host and their audacious message to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” I spent a whole day painting, to express some of the truth growing inside me, and you’ll see snapshots of it throughout. But when it came right down to it, when I thought about the song I want to share with you, the truth I want to say to you, the grace I want to offer you, I realized that a letter was the best way to express it all.
Let’s go back to those angels for a bit. I said it was an audacious message, “On earth, peace.” Peace on earth?
I don’t have to look farther than the interior of my own mind to know earth isn’t the most peaceful place. Never mind what the radio is saying or your neighbour is saying or the person in the pew two rows behind you is saying. Never mind back then when the angels came.
How, in an era when Rome held God’s people captive, in a time when God had sent no word for four hundred years, could there be peace?
Then, I thought that I’d research hard for you. I’d dig through the Old Testament and find ALL the Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. On my Christmas vacation. You may start laughing now. Then you may read what one author calls “The Top 40 Messianic Prophecies“. Who knows how many more there are?
All those prophecies sprinkle the stories of Scripture like faraway stars and are all fulfilled in Jesus, Who came a baby, died a criminal, and rose again with the keys of death and hell.
When the angels said, “Peace on earth,” they could say that, because God had everything under control. He had proved His faithfulness. He had proved again that He is indeed trustworthy. What He says He will do in His good way and time.
As the children’s song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”
I discovered something when I was working on the painting (which was originally going to be an abstract swirl of gentle blues). In order to make it look a little bit realistic, I cupped my own hand and studied it. I looked at it in a mirror. I looked for light and shadows. I, well–Do this for me.
Take one of your hands and cup it gently. Then take your other hand and touch your forehead, the back of your arm, then touch the palm of your hand. Maybe, I’m the only one, but when I touched the palm of my hand I realized just how sensitive it is.
When I, as a child, pictured God holding the world, I could picture His delight in the beauty. I could feel the strength of His protection. But for the first time, I realized something new. If God were, indeed, to literally hold the world in His hands, then He would feel every throb of pain, every shimmer of laughter.
Metaphor aside, my Bible tells me that Jesus wept outside the tomb of Lazarus and He wept over Jerusalem. God not only has proven He’s worthy of our trust, but He’s proven how much He cares deeply about every detail of our lives.
The last couple months have been some of the toughest in my life, and when I step back, I’m not sure why. I would have thought that I was stronger by now, more mature, less sensitive. There are so many other people whose lives are so much harder than mine.
Yet through it all, I’ve learned, I can trust Jesus. Over and over He’s given me the words, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” When I release control and say, “I don’t need to understand,” then something changes. The pain is still there. The tears are still there. But the anxiety that twists my insides goes away. In it’s place, there’s peace.
The angels could promise peace, because they knew what I know. God is worthy, and He is waiting to give us trust.
A couple years ago, I was listening to a minister speak. This man knew God and knew Him in deep and hard ways. His beloved, gentle wife suffered early onset Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t tell you what he preached about, but I wrote down this quote, “It takes genuine commitment to be able to trust.” (Paul Martin, sermon at Moorefield Sept. 13, 2019)
With any relationship, this goes both ways. When I know God is committed and when I have committed myself, then I can trust Him, and as I grow, He trusts me with more.
I’ll admit, thought, I’m like Mother Theresa or whoever it was that said it first, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish He wouldn’t trust me so much.” If I’m honest, I’d really like life to be only a tiny bit difficult.
But then, I wouldn’t know just how wide and deep the peace of God really is.
The year is ending. We could talk resolutions and intentions and reflections, but instead, I have a simple song for you, a blessing.
(Full disclaimer: It’s not a Christian song. It’s labeled New Age and that’s a very scary genre. I cannot vouch for the character of the writer. It was written as a soundtrack for “Lord of the Rings,” and that’s a whole other controversy. But can we, for a moment, set that aside? Thank you for your graciousness.)
The song was written for a character who spent the prime of his life fighting the darkness in the world, often without the recognition or thanks of those he protected. This blessing was sung over him as he left safety–once again–for the battle against evil.
May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home.
Believe and you will find your way
A promise lives within you now-Enya and Nicky Ryan
Perhaps, 2022 may be a more ordinary year. It may be a hard one or a joyful one. Regardless, I know that this dying world is a dark and scary place, but it is also a place of hope.
Because a promise lives within us. We have the promise that God is with us, that the promised Messiah lives within us. We have the promise that if we confess our sins, we receive forgiveness and salvation. We have the promise that God is the Light to illumine our pathway. We have the promise that when we ask and seek and knock, we will will receive and find and ultimately, the door will be opened. We may feel far away from home, but we have this promise of eternal life with God.
Thank you, dear people, for reading my words and for sometimes even talking back. I especially like that. May it be that when you pause today and tomorrow and the day after to look upon the face of Jesus that you will find courage to trust, and you will find the indwelling of His peace.