Yahweh Shalom – the Lord is peace

The reality of the ‘next step’ settled on me yesterday.  In December, 2019, I began the process of preparing the church which I have served for 21 years for my stepping aside from the pulpit. Yesterday, the congregation elected  a man to that position who will begin his service, on September 1st.  There is ample evidence that God has worked in amazingly wonderful ways over the intervening 18 months – with many participating in this process behind the scenes.  

But, change is difficult for most of us, not the least for me, so I as the moment of decision approached I internalized anxiety. Until … I finally released the church and my future to Him anew.  I felt the whisper of the Spirit – “Let the peace of Christ rule your heart… live in peace… be thankful!” (Colossians 3;15) Don’t you love it when God hands you a prescription for spiritual health? He invited me to receive His peace. I did, again. Before I left the church building my new Pastor prayed for me. I went home from the meeting, restful in heart, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep. 

Peace can be an elusive quality of life. Pressure, problems, change, people, and challenges can give us knotted muscles, sleepless nights, and restless hearts. If we believe, as many do that peace is circumstantial- only found if we are able to change situation.  God promises that for the faithful there is a peace “which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”  (Philippians 4:7) Will you choose to live in His promise?

The ancient Israelis named God in many ways. One was Yahweh Shalom – “the LORD is peace.” Raiders from the neighboring country of Midian overpowered them driving them into the hills where they hid in caves. Desperation was everywhere! Gideon, who was a farmer, needed to feed his family in spite of the raids and attacks in Israel. So he ventured from the caves, down to the fields. Judges 6 tells that he was hiding out near a winepress, threshing grain, fearing for his life. Suddenly he felt aware of a Presence and heard a voice! “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT)

Gideon was anything but a mighty hero. He was desperately trying to avoid detection at that very moment. He asks “Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15, NIV) He goes further and questions God’s messenger about the desperate times that his people are experiencing. But, when he saw the evidence of God’s power and received the promise of God with faith, Gideon’s heart changed. “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. (Yahweh Shalom){Judges 6:22-24 NIV} That Hebrew word, shalom, is a rich one that speaks to a state of wholeness, serenity, and satisfaction.

Shalom is possible in any situation, IF we will choose, by faith, to live in the Presence of God. His Spirit produces a serenity that allows us to rise above situations that cause others to panic or to fall apart. Life’s circumstances will rob us of the peace of God if we forget that He is Lord of all. If we attempt to exert control over situations, if we become a little ‘god’ attempting to impose a ‘peace’ of my own design, it likely that our frustration will deepen, our sense that life is beyond meaning will be overwhelmed.

God invites us to come to Him.  In Him we re-center our soul, waiting in quiet prayer.  He says “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)  We can, without words, let Him take charge, and find renewed peace.  My experience has taught me that even when the “situation” remains exactly the same, I am changed.

God does not ask us to detach ourselves from reality or that we live in foolish denial of reality. He sends us into this world as His people who are fully engaged with life. Our mission is to create beauty, to be bearers of His healing to the broken, and to resist evil wherever it brings death.  Though the task can exhaust us, we can live in peace! “Endure hardship like a good soldier,” Paul says.  That endurance is not a stubborn refusal to retreat!  We endure because the Spirit lives in us, His strength steadies us, His voice speaks and quiets our fear.

Restless? Troubled? Uncertain?  That’s quite human.
Take the invitation of Jesus and find a place to retreat into the Presence of God.
Meditate on His Word, commit yourself and your circumstances to Him.
Invite the Spirit to use you as a agent of the Kingdom of Heaven wherever life takes you throughout this day.

When you find yourself tensing up, feeling the pressure, breathe a prayer for peace—“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

The word from the Word is my prayer for us as we begin a new week; one focused on Him.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV)

____________

Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm

Peace peace wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace
Buried deep in the heart of my soul
So secure that no power can mine it away
While the years of eternity roll

Ah soul are you here without comfort and rest
Marching down the rough pathway of time
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark
O accept this sweet peace so sublime

Warren D. Cornell

Public Domain

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