The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28
I had the privilege of spending the weekend with Elizabeth Turnage where we spent an intensive weekend looking at God’s Story of grace, how it interprets all the stories of our lives, and how our stories help to tell that big, beautiful, glorious Story. Shalom, peace, is the description of every diverse aspect of life (people, environment, dreams, relationships, activities, etc.) existing in perfect harmony and being enjoyed. We say we exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, but He has to ask us through Paul, more than on one occasion, “What has happened to all your joy?”
So I have gotten to spend a weekend looking at broken shalom and hoping for the restoration of a fulfilled shalom beyond any tastes of it I had before I noticed it was broken. I’m not going to attempt to re-create nor cover all the varied thoughts from this exploration. But here is what stuck with me about my elusive shalom: I am worried and upset about many things (the uncleaned house upon my return, the desire to have a thoughtfully engaging summer for my children, the need to create order among all my papers, to work hard to serve and protect our little church, to connect with friends I’ve missed throughout the year, and so on…). But as He calls me out of the kitchen to sit with Him, Jesus gently reminds me that He has not asked me to “make the most of the moment”, because He already has. He has not put the burden of shaping my children into His image on me but upon Himself. He has not asked me to connect with every person I like or would like to know more, just to love those He has set before me and will set before me in the course of the days He designs for me.
But my inner stoic says “that sounds a little like laziness and what, are we only supposed to do the things we enjoy and just never clean the house?” “Hmmm”, the Gospel answers, “but if it is done without love, will it bring true life and beauty?” And so I wonder, what might it look like to live at the feet of Jesus rather than busily away from Him in the kitchen? If He is the Prince of Peace and I find myself doing the “necessary” work with increased exhaustion, anxiety and even resentment, is it possible that He is suddenly missing? When my day screams at me, “Look at all you have to do! Look at all you haven’t done! Look at all you can’t or won’t finish (relationally, vocationally, and otherwise)!”, He reminds me that all those to-do’s might not have been from Him in the first place.
So then, Shalom is the Prince of Peace, the perfect fulfillment of the image of God in all His complexity and diversity, power, authority, love, control and yes, peace. He is at rest so that my heart can be. He tells the bullies (like my messy house), who threaten me with their demands that I do more and try harder, “Peace, be still.” Because of the righteousness of Jesus, the total fulfillment of the Law of God’s perfections, in which I have been clothed in beauty and splendor and grace, shalom is possible even now because it does not rest on my accomplishments or attainments, but on His. Oh might I enjoy His favor, enjoy His delight in Fathering me, enjoy His smile and see shalom restored.
About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12