Somewhere between the unloading of ornaments, looking up cookie recipes, getting ready for the Christmas program for our boys, trying to find Christmas gifts for our kids, getting the playroom turned into a potential nursery, doctor visits, packing lunches, work and allowing Steve to study…somewhere I heard the phrase “Peace On Earth.”
I remember hearing the phrase on our Christian radio station, driving the boys home from school (running late from work), trying to think about a quick dinner because I had an ultrasound that evening. I heard “Peace On Earth” right before I heard the breaks on the van crunch…reminding me that we seriously needed to get that looked at…when we win the lottery.
Peace on earth.
We say that phrase a lot. We hear it so many times around this crazy holiday time called Christmas. You know, that time we spend remembering the birth of Christ through white elephant gift exchanges, recipe swaps, gaining pounds and trampling other shoppers for gifts. “Peace on earth” hardly describes the way the majority of us spend our time around Christmas – if we were truly honest with ourselves, we might even say “peace” is missing from our Christmas tradition.
Yet, the people who really understand peace, I believe, have experienced some of the most difficult life circumstances. I met a woman last week that recently (as in a few weeks ago) lost her mom suddenly. The daughter spoke of the many traditional values her mom instilled in her and the love her mom had for Christ. She ended the conversation by saying, “I just have this peace that her life has impacted others and will continue to do so.” I remember at that moment hearing someone say, “I’m sure you don’t mean you are happy.” Her response was my thought exactly – “I never said I was happy – I said I was at peace.”
When was the last time you read the real Christmas story, from the Bible and ended with that warm, fuzzy feeling? You know, the Biblical account where Mary, a young girl, pledged to be married to Joseph is ambushed by Angel Gabriel announcing that she was going to carry the Son of God. This young girl who had to return to her family was most likely seen as an embarrassment not only to her family, but to her town. Her visit with Elizabeth might have even been a bit of an escape from the chaos that had been created back home…finally to have someone around that understood the insanity and unpredictability of being used by God. Joseph eventually is reassured by the angel to take Mary as his wife and now must start a family immediately. Before they even have a moment to celebrate in the joy of what God is doing, the King has them travel all the way to Bethlehem to be counted for no doubt even more taxes (as if they weren’t having enough issues). As they wrestle with the thoughts of who their son might be and their new role as parents, they are traveling through towns and villages as Herod is searching for this “Messiah King” that threatens his throne. The Son of God enters the world greeted by cattle, sheep and the smell of hay and animal urine. The Highest of Kings was born in the humblest of places. Mary and Joseph barely get time to gather the gifts from the wisemen before they are forced to flee to Egypt to save their child’s life…the same child that was born to save theirs.
Good ol’ warm and fuzzy Christmas story, right?
Where in the world does “Peace On Earth” come into this picture?
Enter Luke 2:14 from stage right…its what the angels sang as they told the shepherds where to find this new King:
To Mary, this child was a gift from God.
To Joseph, this child originally was merit for divorce.
For the parents of Mary, this child was an embarrassment to the family name.
For King Herod, this child was a threat to his throne.
For the wisemen, this child was the end of their quest.
To the shepherds, this child was a light in the darkness.
Christ is a gift to all mankind, but how you receive this gift is completely up to you.
Is He your peace?
Is He your burden?
Is He your embarrassment?
Is He your judge?
Is He still distant and far away from your search for acceptance?
Is He your threat?
What is this child to you this Christmas?
This past year, every time I sat there, waiting the needle to be poked into my arm for another IV, another IVIG treatment
another round of chemo or even fluids…I had to remind myself about what peace truly means and where it is found. Peace is not determined by earthly circumstances, but instead how you view the opportunities around you. I decided at the beginning of my health battle that I knew where my journey ended and it was up to me how I was going to spend my days getting there. Mary was given this amazing gift, to carry and raise the Son Of God – her response was simply, “I am the Lord’s Servant.” Somewhere she found that peace that God knew what He was doing and He chose to do His work through her.
I want to live like that. I want to grab a tight hold of that peace brought to earth, in the midst of the chaos that eventually echoed “God is in control!” I want to continue to live my life in such a way that I can simply hold on to where God is taking me and enjoy the ride. Is there fear…yes. Do we always know where we are going? No. Do we know where we will end up? Yes. Will He ever leave us? No. Is God always in control, Yes.
Find peace this Christmas in the midst of the chaos of your little world. After all, its those that find peace in the chaos that find themselves playing a part in the greatest God story ever told.
Peace be with you.