Who loves presents?
Surprise huh? I’m crazy about presents, given or got. They don’t even have to be Christmas presents.
To be fair, I learned to love gifts from a champion gifter, Mom was the queen of Christmas. Her stockings were famous. She put candy, little toys, socks, underwear, jewelry, magazines, gadgets, pantyhose (when we used to wear them), I think someone even got a can of Sphagetti O’s one year. Often, she filled them so much that she needed a gift bag for the overflow. That tradition was one that we kept in our house. Our daughters always said they’d forgo everything at Christmas but their stockings.
Gift giving is an art. Finding the perfect thing that will bring a smile of satisfaction to someone is a cultivated skill. It requires us to know a person intimately, their passions and loves. I love both sides of the gift experience. Thinking about what to give someone is fun for me. I don’t dread the gift giving season, I anticipate it with enjoyment. I’m reminded that God is the perfect gift giver. He lavishly gives to us every day. He’s generous and rich with creativity.
And bottom line, no one knows us better than our creator
Of all the gifts I’ve received from the Father, peace has to be the one that I cherish most. I trust and rely on it to guide and lead me through decisions both small and large. Peace isn’t the absence of problems, it’s the path through them. To live in a place of peace often requires hard choices. Sometimes even asking us to abandon habits, pursuits and relationships.
But ohhhh the relief!
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It’s meaning is more broad than simply the absence of conflict. It means that a completeness has come to a person. They have been restored or made whole through Shalom. When choices lead me to a place of brokenness, or to loose pieces of myself, I know that I am not being led by ‘the peace which transcends all understanding’ (Phil 4:7). When I am moving, being and living in a wholeness that allows me to feel secure, confident and fulfilled, peace is guiding and leading me.
I can’t be myself without shalom/peace
This kind of peace demands to be shared. It spills over and flows to people in chaos, glimpsing them with a taste of what life can be. Chaos is the complete opposite of peace. It’s a symptom of brokenness. We’ve all been there at one time or another (and maybe are still there). But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we lay our chaos before the Father and ask for his gift of peace, he readily gives it.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jn 14:7
To me, peace is the gift that I absolutely will not sacrifice, it is my ‘pearl of great price’, (Mt 13:45-46) I lived in chaos for a good part of my life and my heart cry was always for it to end. Chaos drove me to behave in ways that were opposite of who God made me to be. It caused me to be defensive and to care too much about what others thought of me. It made me very fearful.
It hurt, a lot
When I started to be obedient to what God asked of me, peace followed and I felt restored and healed. When I allowed God’s peace to guide and lead me chaos began to untangle and subside. Ever tried to untangle a badly tangled necklace? That’s how chaos felt. I could never get it right. But when I surrendered all of my chaos and became obedient, peace untangled my necklace. I could see a clear path through the chaos to a peaceful place.
You can’t have true peace without surrendering the chaos
Peace is costly. Often we think that if we just do more, or read more, or explain more, peace will follow. We long for others to understand and agree with us. But peace has it’s own path and often it has nothing to do with our limited human understanding. When I scrambled for answers to tough problems, peace led me to do things I never would have imagined doing. Things like,
Not talking, staying silent, not responding…
Soooo not my thing! I was primed to talk my way through things. To dialog with my critics. To explain myself in full. To help everyone understand me and know me so they would love and accept me. Unfortunately those actions didn’t result in peace. Usually they only opened the door to more and more chaos. It was frustrating and it hurt.
And pain is NOT my jam…
2020 has been a year of chaos! It brought unexpected trials, unimaginable changes and unforeseen problems. It’s certainly taken us down some unexpected paths! Heart surgery, job loss, virtual church (when that was our reason for moving here). But one thing we continued to pursue was God’s peace. It answers the ‘where, when, whys’ of our life. It’s the calm in the storm and I can’t imagine living this year without it.
Aren’t you glad I didn’t write about the gift of patience?