I’m huge on planning and organization. Yep, all eyes are on me when it’s time to plan a family vacation or trip. No one stresses because they all know that I’ll have everything figured out when the time comes. So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that peace and preparation go hand in hand for this second week of Advent.
Here’s an interesting fact about me…I played Mary in a live Nativity in my hometown every year from the age of 12 until my senior year in college. Of course, peace is an easy one. We’re all familiar with the iconic phrasing recited and remembered at every community Nativity observance and yes, I heard it spoken as I held a host of little babies throughout those years.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Well…maybe it’s easy to see how peace fits into the Christmas narrative, but I don’t think any of us assume it’s a foregone conclusion in everyday practice. We get the concept; we know we’re supposed to have it, but the daily execution can prove much more difficult to master.
Why is it so easy to allow fear and worry to replace peace in our hearts and minds?
Obviously, God knows it’s a daily struggle for us to walk in peace. That’s why the His Word consistently encourages us not to worry or fear. But, did you know that the Bible actually mentions “fear not” 365 times Yep, one time for every day we’re tempted to succumb to doubt, fear and anxiety!
While the worries of this life loom daily, so does the firm reality that God has our lives and this world under control. It’s right here that the whole preparation part comes into play…this world as it is right here and right now isn’t all there is…nope! Jesus is coming again and we can be ready.
‘‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
What does this preparation look like in practice? It means to consistently take things back to Jesus and God’s Word. When I feel tempted to follow the path of cynicism or speak words of judgement, I ask myself, “Where is this emotion coming from and does it reflect Jesus?” God promises to bring peace as long as I refuse to allow myself to wander down crooked paths.
Christmas comes around each year to remind us that God’s got a plan for every step of our journey…and that plan starts and ends with Jesus.
I encourage each of you to reflect God’s peace this Christmas season. You may know that this world and all its problems is not the end, but is your life reflecting this reality to others who so desperately long for peace?