God’s shalom on us

At that time, this song
will be sung in the country of Judah:
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty
he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill
as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples
build their lives on the reclaimed land.

Isaiah 26:1-6; MSG

This especially caught my eye yesterday:

People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don’t quit.

And this follows:

Depend on God and keep at it
because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.

I am leery, basically suspicious of big breakthroughs, though I do believe they happen, especially over time. But I prefer the preponderance of building slowly over time, day after day, so that real and lasting change occurs. Not something fly by night, a great experience here today and gone tomorrow.

In this rendering in The Message, I sense the pastor coming out of Eugene Peterson. He is encouraging us to “keep at it” rather than look for some great experience in which we live, I mean the “perfect peace” as in the NIV, etc. The idea of “completely whole” probably better captures the meaning behind shalom.

What really hits home for me is the encouragement to “keep at it.” To not give up, to not give in to disparaging thoughts which come our way. But to set our minds on God and depend on God. God honors that. For the down and out, for the broken, for those who have no hope of fixing themselves. God makes a way, and gives them all they need.

We may or may not see ourselves in that category. But we need to take care of ourselves. And how we best do that is to put ourselves under God’s care. We look to God and keep doing that. Trusting in God to see us through, that all will be well. In and through Jesus.

inhabiting God’s peace about anything and everything

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

John 14:27; MSG

I’ve been really honestly wondering why we can’t begin to inhabit God’s peace about anything and everything, albeit certainly in a limited way. What God thinks and feels, if we can say such a thing, and it seems to me based on Scripture, we most certainly can. Instead of being left to our own thoughts and feelings, sometimes full of alarm, or maybe more often just a gnawing fear and uneasiness, we can be hopefully more and more filled with God’s peace. By God’s peace I mean the sense that all is well in the sense that all will be well (Julian of Norwich).

This doesn’t mean we don’t face the real world, and experience more than disappointment along the way, with all the normal reactions that brings. Nor does it mean that we won’t face actual trouble. It just means that in the midst of all of this, we can inhabit God’s peace. And how is that possible? Jesus gives us no less than his own peace. Given not just to his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. But to us all in and through Jesus.

I quote a hymn included in the new Mennonite hymnal, Voices Together:

1 Joys are flowing like a river
since the Comforter has come,
who abides with us forever,
makes the trusting heart a home.
Refrain:
Blessed quietness, holy quietness
what assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea speaking peace to me
how the billows cease to roll!
2 Like the rain that falls from heaven,
like the sunlight from the sky,
so the Holy Ghost is given,
coming on us from on high. [Refrain]
3 See, a fruitful field is growing,
blessed fruit of righteousness,
and the streams of life are flowing
in the lonely wilderness. [Refrain]
4 What a wonderful salvation,
where we always see God’s face!
What a perfect habitation,
what a quiet resting place! [Refrain]
-Manie P. Ferguson

the importance of sleep and resting in God

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

Psalm 127:2

We recently received a picture of a baby in the most peaceful looking sleep you can imagine: idyllic, almost like angelic. It reminded me of how we need to rest in God. I’m reminded too of when Martin Luther equated sleep to faith that God was running the world.

For our physical well being alone, sleep is vital. Maintaining our circadian rhythm is important, as well. We need to go to bed and get up basically around the same time, while maintaining a healthy number of hours of sleep. I like to take naps when I can. All of this becomes more evident as we get older. We can’t do some of the crazy things we did when we were younger, or if we do, we learn that our body just can’t take it like it used to.

Getting our needed sleep or physical rest as we see in this psalm can be an expression of faith in God. We hurry, scurry and worry about this and that and everything else. In this life there is often no end to that. When God would have us do something much better. Learn to rest in him.

Of course this doesn’t mean at all that we skirt our responsibility, or that we don’t have legitimate concerns. But in all of that, we learn more and more to depend on God. And know in the end that our ability, even our effort, and the outcome all depend on God, God’s faithfulness in the end, and not our own. We thankfully are not God. Indeed we can rest in God and need to do so even when we’re awake. Helping us to get the sleep we need. In and through Jesus.