The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8
As I write this, we are only a few weeks away from Christmas. Around this time, we frequently see the phrase, “Peace on Earth!” But like so many popularized snippets in the Bible the meaning can be confused when interpreted from a worldly point of view. “Peace” so often means a lack of something – strife, war, noise, chaos. But in God’s universe, it is an addition of something.
Having grown up in San Diego I had the fortunate experience of learning to sail. As a Girl Scout, I started out in small, one-man sabots. Eventually, I became skilled at sailing catamarans and larger sloops. I’ve even been a crew member on an old sailing ship which sailed the 31 miles from Long Beach Harbor across the ocean to Santa Catalina Island. What an amazing trip! On many of those sailboats you’ll find what’s called a set of lifelines. They run from stem to stern along the edge of the boat. Its purpose? To be used as a last chance handhold before plunging into the water.
That’s how I see God’s peace brought into our world and more specifically my life. Peace, as brought about by the coming of Jesus, is not the lack of something, it’s the addition of our new lifeline. God promises throughout the Old Testament that He will send His messenger to wipe way our tears and to bring us salvation. And when Jesus arrived, so many people misunderstood His purpose. It was not to become an earthly king and conquer all our physical adversaries. He came to teach us that His ways are higher and His love for us so great. You see God doesn’t always want to change our circumstances, but He always seeks to change us. When we study how Jesus handled strife and chaos and follow in His ways we live in peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
This bringing of His Peace – the incarnation of Jesus – was more clearly defined for me this year. About 11 months ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I love my mother-in-law as my own mom. She has taught me so much about Jesus and His ways. She has shown me grace when I didn’t deserve it. She has provided a warm and loving place for me to land when life has been too much. I had been praying fervently for a more positive diagnosis.
So that day, I went for a long walk through our nearby, secluded canyons and yelled out loud at God. Yes, I yelled at the Almighty. I pleaded with Him to not take her from me yet. My heart, mind and soul were the opposite of peace. And like the boat lifeline, He suddenly placed Himself between me and going off the deep end. His Holy Spirit stood square in front of me and reminded me that death is not the end. He showed me that when the day comes for my beloved mother-in-law to leave this world it would be a joyous one for her. You see, she would be reunited with her own mother. He showed me a picture of the two of them playing their favorite card games, teasing each other, and laughing their heads off. And it made me smile. It filled me with joy.
I had accepted God’s peace. There’s the covenant agreement. He sent His Peace On Earth in the form of His Son. And I accepted it. I frequently try giving it back, but less and less as I place my trust more firmly in Him.
This year of 2020 had been very difficult for many. As a Christian I have grasped a hold of God’s lifeline so often to stay in His peace. It’s important for us to remember that God wants us to live in today, not yesterday or tomorrow. So, when we dream blissfully about how much better 2021 “just has to be,” we make the mistake of missing out on how good God can be for us right now. We miss out on the opportunity to live in His peace.
There has never been a year in the history of the world, after Eden, where there was not disease, strife, war, death and pain. And 2021 will be no different. But God’s promised peace is our lifeline. It will guard our hearts and minds. No matter the dark seas on either side, we can rest in the knowledge of His love and our eternal salvation.