Who would like Shalom? <with hand raised high, while saying, “I do. I do.”>
Shalom is no ordinary peace. Shalom is a greater, more complete peace. It is the ultimate peace! My Pastor Tom Gibbs describes Shalom as a “wholeness within all of the world”. I love that thought. A peaceful, wholeness within all the world to share His Light.
The Hebrew word “Shalav” means to be at rest.
To me, Shalom is a greater kind of peace…a peaceful rest that can only come from my Father in Heaven.
As Pastor Tim Keller says, “Shalom is like a fabric that has been interwoven together and is beautiful.” I can picture this beautiful fabric that is quite intricate with lots of details.
I found a needlepoint work of art at Goodwill. Someone had donated it; but inside the mounted frame, and delicately woven into the fabric, was the word Shalom. Someone spent a lot of time working on this beautiful piece of art. BTW, I gave this piece of art to my daughter, Erica Hairston from which the blog “Teach Me To Walk” was written. She has a beautiful peace about her, and I thought she would love it. I had thought of writing about Shalom back in April, and after finding this beautiful piece of art…I felt I had to share these thoughts.
Relationships, like this piece of art, are delicate. We have many pieces of fabric that are interwoven together. Sometimes the fabric becomes unraveled…much like our brokenness within our lives. The fabric then must become “re” woven so that we as Christians will be able to bring about witness for Him.
We all seem to long for Shalom at some point in our lives. We want to live in Shalom and search for it; but, the place has already been created by God. It is called Heaven. Here on Earth there is no lasting place, or city to dwell in; but there is one city that can last (and it has yet to come).
How do we seek this place of Shalom? We have to engage in the practice of loving our neighbor. Love should be our action…after all, it was His action.
I’m the worst at becoming judgmental of others especially when I think they have wronged me. The truth is…I’m not in charge of justice; but, I am in charge of my actions. God is in charge of justice; but, His justice is different from what mine looks like. God’s justice is love…in action. Being able to forgive, be thankful, not moan for what I think I may deserve. Not becoming an “idol” worshiper of my own desires.
I’m reminded of the Christian band Luminate. They have a song called “Shine“. The lyrics go as follows:
“And though it starts with one, There will be a million candles.
There will be millions more, Singing with the tongues of angels.
The Light of Heaven falling down, Spreading love to the darkest places.
I want to strike a match, and watch it bring salvation.
Shine, Love is an action.
Shine, Oh it starts with a passion.
We want to be a heart that’s pure
So all will see that we are Yours…
In order to spread His love, by shining His Light, we may have to meet the needs of others through sacrificial love. We should try to make a difference in other’s lives, besides our own. In fact, we are not our own…we are His. If we don’t love the least of these, then we do not love Him. In the Bible it states, “He who is kind to the poor…loves Me!”
God is for us. He has walked in our shoes. He knows how to identify with us as poor, broken, and oppressed. After all, He was born in a manger, died on a cross, and buried in a tomb. He knows exactly what’s it is like to suffer the consequences of others. I’m reminded daily that my sins pinned Him on the cross. I was one of the many who stood in the crowd and did nothing to show love to my neighbor as he died a heinous death.
By His death on the cross, He has vindicated our sins, and we have been saved by His grace. With such grace, we are able to find Shalom and live the life of Shalav that He has intended for us to live.
God’s justice for us was shown through His love in action. It was His promise of Shalom. He tells us not to worry. He gives us Shalav…a place to rest. In fact, He asks us to rest upon His yoke. It’s not just for me to rest but for all who are weary and burdened. God gives us a peaceful rest, isn’t that awesome! We are to take advantage of that rest, so that we will become better equipped to shine His Light for others to know of His salvation.
Yes, we all get worn out from our daily living, and that’s why we need to take a break. We may need to renew our faith; like the wings of eagles. We must soar with great passion from within ourselves, and the community of the church, to be able to turn this passion into an action.
The good news is that we have been forgiven and there is a future for us…a future in Heaven. We are reminded of this future when we worship with our church community. As a community we become that fabric that has become “re” woven together so that we can become a community of believers that bring about the fruits of His Spirit. We will begin to proclaim the reality that the love we show was His action taken when He died on the cross.
Slowly, we can begin to make a difference…striking His match. The journey He took for us will begin to shine through us, and we will begin to let His Light be seen throughout many dark places.
The whole earth is full of His glory! Let His love be the action that obtains Shalom: a greater kind of peace that dwells within us for the whole earth to see!
Shalom, and may you go in peace by making a difference…by shining His Light in dark places when all other lights go out!
I have worked at a summer camp for many years. In fact, this summer will be my 30th year to work at the camp. There is a beautiful place called Church Mountain that the campers and counselors hike up to every Sunday. The camp director, and good friend, Nan Manning tells a story about two unlikely friends. She begins the story something like the following…
“Just up the road from my cabin is the corral. Next to it is a field with two horses in it. From a distance each horse looks like any other horse. But, when you walk by the field going up to the corral, you will notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one of the horses they will disclose that he is blind. They have a milky looking film over them; thus, the name given…Milky Way. The camp owners have decided not to have Milky Way ‘put down’ and they have made a good home for him.
This alone is truly amazing!
If you stand nearby the field and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell ringing in the distance. Looking around to see where the sound is coming from, you will see that it comes from a great horse, Vindicator, for whom all the campers want the honor of riding.
Along with the other horses, Vindicator is let loose in the field to rest at the end of the day’s activities. The small bell attached to Vindicator’s collar allows his blind friend knows where he is, so that he can follow him to the food and be able to eat.
As I was watching these two friends, l noticed that Vindicator, the one with the bell, is always looking behind for his unlikely blind friend Milky Way. Vindicator is making sure that Milky Way hears the bell and is able to follow him. Milky Way does respond to Vindicator’s bell by walking slowly toward him…trusting that he will not lead him astray.
After eating, Vindicator returns to the barn for the evening to rest. He is always looking over his shoulder for his friend Milky Way to make sure he is following him.”
Like the camp owner of the horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect…or because we are broken. He watches over us and brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need. Sometimes we are blind like Milky Way and need to be guided by the bell of those who God has put into our lives to lead us. Other times, we are like Vindicator able to guide others and help them get to a point where they might not have made without the proper guidance.
Every one of us has the power to make a difference by reaching out to other. We should take a vested interest in the care of others. We need to get involved and be a part of another person’s world. We all have challenges and struggles. We all have some kind of brokenness and pain that we have experienced at some time or another. The biggest lesson we have to learn is that our choices can hurt or help others; therefore, learning to recognize those who may be blind may be difficult. Yet, don’t give up. We all have different strengths and weaknesses; but, the good news is that our weaknesses are sufficient through His strength. There are some who are gifted and are able to recognize when others are broken.
We must all think, “What can we do to help others overcome their brokenness, and reach their potential?” Making a difference may be being able to bring out someone’s weakness and help them turn it into strength. The strength is not to be advantageous for one’s self; but, to be advantageous in furthering His kingdom while helping others.
Establishing good relationships with others is a great start in helping others. Although we may not always “see” these relationships, it’s nice to know that they may be near. Sometimes it’s the hope that gives us faith in what we don’t see.
I have a friend who sends me surprise notes telling me how much I mean to her. That random act of kindness goes a long way with me. It’s like the “Golden Rule” that they remind of us so much at the camp, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”.
Let’s try to “Do unto others” and make a difference by listening out for each other’s bells. We really don’t know what kind of brokenness that another person is experiencing. Your bell may be the only bell they can hear and may follow.
So look over your shoulder, and try not to leave anyone behind. You may be an unlikely friend that someone is following to His pasture.
…Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… ~Matthew 11:28