Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Beautiful Feet

Waves threaten to capsize the boat, and He sleeps?  The danger is real.  The circumstances urgent. Likewise, the countdown to Christmas and the pressure to deliver has already begun with its contracting expectations. The strain is real and the pressure urgent.  Ready or not, the 25th will come. But this year is different . . . because of shoes, the shoes of peace.

I love the sparkly snow clad Christmas cards, the scenes of tranquility and the nostalgia of warm family happiness, but this kind of peace seems a dream, an ideal which eludes us all.  In reality, I need a peace that can stand in the misdst of turmoil, stress, deadlines, busyness, and noise.

This year, perhaps more than others, I have reason to be unsettled.  Torents have beaten violently against my house.  Between the failing health of my in-laws, my husband's recovery, and my children's growing pains, I enter some ominous territory I've never seen before.  The forecast brings monumental waves which would seem to be anything but peaceful.

Yet, as I enter this hoilday season, I'm finding a new understanding of the word peace, that it's found only in the anchor of my relationship with God.  Rather than a perfect setting with well behaved people, perfect gifts, and warm fuzzy feelings, I look to my standing in Christ.  I am accepted before God, not on whether I meet the image of a perfect holiday, but on the basis of His righteousness and His perfection.  That never changes.  Ever.  This peace with God provides a launching pad for peace with others, the peace of God which transcends all understanding.

Last year at this time I did not fare so well when it came to peace.   I allowed my circumstances to absorb my attentions.  I was so overwhelmed that they became all consuming.  I'm sorry to say I was rather prickly and disagreeable.  I entered the season lacking shoes of peace.

Yet, I learned something from those experiences, that peace is not passive.  Instead, I have to actively pursue it by focusing on the greatness of my Creator.  Does God really reign?  Is He truly in control of my life?  Can He tangibly provide for my needs?  Of course He can!  But so often I don't live by what I say.  Peace comes as I live with the awareness that God. Is. Big.  He's got this!  Every bit of it! Therefore, I can live settled, quiet, and peaceful, because I trust the One who rules my life.

With this perspective, I enter the season having my shoes of peace laced and ready to move forward.  My heart overflows with gratefulness, for I was once the object of God's wrath, but now, because of the blood of Jesus, I am the object of His great love.  He sent the perfect gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  No wonder the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."  (Lk. 2:14)

Christmas baking?  A clean house?  Perfect pictures?  A beautiful tree?  Lushious meals?  Exact gift? Some of this might remain undone, but it doesn't matter.  The pressure is off.  The reason?  I have what really matters, my life in Christ, and no amount of turmoil can change that.  

Both my dad and my father-in-law have commented on my square feet.  They are not very pretty by the world's standards, but God says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 
'Your God reigns' ".  (Isa. 52:7)  Yes!  Turns out, I have beautiful feet afterall, for they are engulfed in the shoes of peace.  

Ignorance is not bliss!  When I forget who I am in Christ and do not realize the overwhelming fullness of the gift of Christmas, I become ungrateful and unsettled.  I worry about many things. However, to know this great work of God and His involvement in my life provides a rich foundation because I "stand firm...with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15)  Therefore, I can sing this song with confidence.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains.

God's love never fails, never runs dry, never runs out on me,
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul 
And I never ever have to be afraid,
For God's love remains.  
(by Kristian Stanfill)

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