The morning fire wards off night’s chill, as I sit all nestled in my blankies, with tea and toast, chewing on morsels of the Word. I’m reflecting on this peace Jesus came to bring, this peace that seems more elusive than ever at the very season that celebrates ‘peace on earth, good will to men’.
You know the fluster, the pressure—presents to buy, cards to send (which hopefully will include a re-cap of the whole year and a picture of the whole family, right?), parties to attend (or host!), baking to do, meals to plan, shopping and more shopping for that other ingredient, that little extra, that perfect stocking stuffer—These are the surface things. That’s not to mention the underlying loneliness, grief and sadness that the memories of Christmases past may evoke for those whose dear ones won’t be coming home this year or others with no home to come to…
It’s a season in desperate need of peace. At my house too. So I sit here morning by morning, determined not to be too busy for this—and I chew on the Word, beautiful words-- Zechariah’s prophecy over his son, for example, who will
‘give knowledge of salvation to his people, in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ Lk.1:79
My feet need such guidance!
I know, ultimately the peace Jesus came to offer is reconciliation to a Holy God, a removal of enmity between us, a bringing us near, adoption, Sonship. These are awesome realities we are never meant to take for granted. But do they percolate through the way I live from day-to-day, especially in the pressure-cooker seasons of life? Am I at peace in my scurryings around to ‘make Christmas’? Must I even scurry? Just the sound of the word makes me feel rushed!
There are so many things Christmas ends up meaning: the party, the baking, the music, the pressure of gifts not yet bought, not yet thought of! All these things vie to outdo the one thing that is needful—O come let us adore Him, Jesus Christ the Lord. I get this when I’m quiet in the mornings and the day’s cares aren’t yet on my plate, but in the hustle and bustle? in the middle of the ‘to do' list? How do I maintain that peace? This is what I want for Christmas, the whole season through, this peace that passes human understanding, that guards my heart like a nutcracker sentry.
How does that happen? What does the Word tell me? “Keep in step with the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” I hadn’t thought of anxiety and irritability as lusts of the flesh. And that demanding everything to be ‘just right’ may be an unruly desire… These may be part of the ‘spirit of Christmas’ but they’re certainly not fruits of the Spirit!
Love, joy, peace…ahhh these are the things I truly want. Mary sat at Jesus feet adoring, attentive to His Words. Martha scurried about preparing, heedless of the moments she was missing. Too rushed to listen in on the conversation. Petulant that Mary wouldn’t help her. It wasn’t wrong of her to fix a meal, to serve, or even to plan a party. It was wrong to lose sight of what would most please her Guest of honor. Most of all He wanted to spend time with her. Jesus always had time for people.
Every year at this time I tread this fine edge between imitating Mary and Martha. But I see now the advantage I have over Martha. She did not possess the indwelling Spirit of God. Being a God of order, not confusion; of peace, not pandemonium, (I Cor.14:33) I can rest assured that he will guide my steps in the way of peace. He will give direct in all the planning and doing of what is really needful, as I keep an ear open for His direction and re-direction! As I keep my eyes open for the people in my path who need the peace He would exude through me, or perhaps just a ride into town?! Or a visit over lunch?! These are opportunities I have already missed in my hurrying. (I’m grateful for forgiveness and fresh chances) So I press on, intent on ‘keeping the peace’ for the rest of the season.
Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal.5:16)
“…but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Rom.8:5,6
Rejoice in the Lord always…(He’s is the Lord after all. Not I. Relax!) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil.4:4-6
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Is.26:3
These verses embody my Christmas wish for you and me:
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col.3:14-17
May all we do be wrapped up in love,
flowing from a heart at peace (regulated by Jesus, our Pace-maker) and saturated with His Word.
Then our souls will sing as we go.
And may everything we do and say reflect Jesus’ rule in our hearts as Prince of Peace and God with us.
Then we will overflow with thanksgiving for God’s love, God’s peace and God’s Word--all gifts to us at Christmas.
“For God so loved the world that He gave us his Son…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...for He Himself is our Peace.” Jn.3:16,Jn.1:14,Eph.2:14
Peace be with you and yours this Christmas time.