Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shalom (Peace like Manna)

You could barely see the stars through the clouds, but every once in a while you would catch a glimpse of a constellation. We lay there in the snow, the weight of our bodies making imprints in the fluffy white powder. Her head was next to mine but our limbs were flung out in different angles, making snow angels on the ground.
"Lying here is so peaceful," I told her, "It's like nothing else matters. The world just stops."
The exam stress, the worries of family, when she says words that sting and he doesn't answer the one question that matters and peace is as illusive as the stars above. Every once in a while you would catch a glimpse, but never long enough to curl your fingers around it, never long enough to claim it.
In studying for my final exam, I've been reading of how the Israelites wandered in the desert, how they questioned and grumbled and searched, how God provided manna.
Manna, He provided, but they learned only enough for today. When they tried to store up, to create a safety net for themselves, there wasn't enough.
And maybe it's like this with my illusive peace, that when I try to hoard it crumbles apart in my hands but when I wait He will provide me with all I need for this day.
I am learning that God will not let His people go without that which they need. His manna, His mercies, are new every morning.
Peace, in the middle of the busyness of exams and in light of disappointments and when your arms are wrapped around her sobbing shoulders, in the face of unknowns when he won't answer your questions and in the presence of stinging words, and exhaustion
Shalom: Meaning peace but also to restore, to provide what is needed in order to make something complete. Completeness, wholeness, health, safety, tranquility, prosperity, rest, absence of agitation
Peace, Shalom, not because of my own faltering heart that is too tired to be kind, too hurt to be forgiving, too weak to be of comfort. Peace, because in the resounding echo of my heartbeat is the strong, sturdy echo of God's son.
And didn't He promise to always provide what we need?
He promised pain, but He also promised rescue
He promised hardship, but He also promised relief
He promised discord, but He also promised harmony
He promised night, but He also promised morning
My heart limps under the weight of all this non-peace, this agitation and frustration that surrounds this season. It's easier to fight against this which I cannot control, easier to stay angry and unforgiving and harsh instead of gently searching my heart to find this root of bitterness and pull it out with my bare hands. It is easier to stand in the way of my own peace, then rant to God about my lack of it. I've always been more of a fighter, more willing to pick up arms than lay them down.
But when I choose un-forgiveness, choose to remain frustrated and stressed, nothing gets done. It is when I lay down my own heart, allowing His heartbeat to pulsate through my body, that I find the peace that is promised me.
My own selfish heart can't find peace in this hectic pace, can't forgive when I've been hurt, can't offer love when all I feel is exhaustion. But His heart beating in me forgives, and loves, and surrounds me with peace.
In the middle, in the heaviness, when the stars are hidden behind their cloudy veil, He has promised peace. Peace, like Manna, what I need for today and no more and no less. Peace, because it is His heart working that allows my body to breathe out life and love and forgiveness, gentleness and rest. Peace, because when I first find my rest in Him then all else lines up, the weapons are laid down, and there is shalom.

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