Monday, December 17, 2012

{The Return of Peace}

"I'm frightened," she simpered. Little Miss wiggled on my lap as we waited for the Christmas program to begin. It had been a hard day for her. Contrary. Belligerent. Defiant.

I tried not to let her see the exasperation in my face. Always so dramatic. Frightened? Good grief.

She said it again, but this time she gave the reason. "I'm frightened that I won't be able to see the nativity."

The sea of heads in front of us blocked the stage, and she didn't want to miss the manger. I took a deep breath as I pondered her response. I didn't want to miss the manger either. I didn't want to let my frustration, my impatience, my selfishness prevent me from seeing Jesus in that moment.

The program began, and for most of the evening the action was visible from where my Little Miss sat. But as the manger scene drew near, I realized that I'd have to move in order for her to fully see the baby. The lights dimmed and I quietly ushered my daughter to the aisle. I checked to make sure we weren't standing in front of anyone, and then we positioned ourselves in full view of the manger. She was satisfied. 

Too often I make comfort my objective. I want to stay seated, comfortably watching the show. But the squirming one on my lap reminds me that sacrifice is often necessary in order to show Jesus to others.

The next morning these thoughts were still on my mind as I opened my Bible. Nehemiah encouraged his fearful people, "Don't be afraid of [our enemies]. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." (Nehemiah 4:14)

Remember the Lord. Fight for your children.

These words are even more sobering a week later as I look at them in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut. Our nation is rocked. We are fearful. We hold our children closely and we cry, "Why?"

Shortly after I read Nehemiah that day, I found Spurgeon's evening devotion to be a source of great comfort and hope. The timing was uncanny. It was five days before the shooting, and I was quietly wondering how to minister to my own child in her own need, how to cultivate peace and joy in our own home.

The Scripture he drew upon was Isaiah 32:18.

My people shall dwell in quiet resting places.

This, friends, is a promise. My people shall. Do you hear the confidence of the Shepherd? His protection? His hope? His loyalty? There is so much packed into this one line. And we need every word of it.

Spurgeon responds with the solution: "The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits."

A week later, my own domestic struggles seem so petty. But in my own small way, I long for peace. In a much greater way, our nation longs for peace. And the answer to both is found in the nativity.

The thing is, we can't stay seated. We might miss it. This is frightening. We must stand. We must take our children by the hands, and we must take them to the manger. We must show them the beauty of Love. We must show them how attractive it is to serve, to sacrifice, to give. And there, as we fall down in worship, we will indeed find the return of peace to our spirits.

Dear ones, let us linger long before our Prince of Peace, today and always.
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