You give me peace like a river

I’ve written about Shalom on here before right? I mean the title of this blog is Striving for Shalom.  It’s a concept that I am deeply DEEPLY in love with.  A wholeness – a oneness with God that he intended for his people, promises us at the end of our days and that Christ gave us through the Holy Spirit after his resurrection in John’s account of his life.  It’s a beautiful almost lyrical word that rolls off my tongue with all of its hope and complexity.
It’s a word that I love, a concept that I want to shout from the roof tops – THIS IS WHAT GOD INTENDED FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!
And this week I’m charged with teaching this word to our children at church.  As I process it out I think of all the words I use to describe Shalom, all the hints to how broken the world is that most adults know and understand all to well.  I think of explaining Shalom from the point of brokenness – as a contrast to the world we already know.
But Kids?!  They probably understand Shalom far better than we do.  They probably can remember a moment in time that they have felt this complete wholeness – all of their needs and wants met.  They’ve probably experienced it in the last month, week or even day.
I think of my nieces. The Eldest would not describe her life as perfect – she has an annoying little sister who is always reeking havoc on her life.   Mini Monster steals her toys, throws things, breaks things and is entirely too loud for Eldest’s taste.
Mini Monster would probably describe her life as perfect, except for when she is being told that she cannot have one of her sister’s toys.  Or when she is told she cannot smother the new Baby with her kisses and hugs.  Her day is full of craziness, noise and chaos.  She may love this noise and chaos, I would hope so considering she is the one who creates it.
But then I think of the other moments in Mini Monster or Eldest’s lives that are full of peace.  For Eldest it’s when Mini Monster is sleeping and she gets everyone’s attention to herself.  She lies on the couch with her head in my lap.  As I stroke her hair I watch her silently drift off to sleep.  She feels fully protected, comforted, safe… she is at peace.
For Mini MOnster these moments are rare.  She has a much more outgoing personality.  Her peaceful moments come when she is surrounded by her loved ones.  Squeezed in between my mom and me being tickled and giggling.  There’s a moment for Mini Monster right after she has exhausted herself with laughing and being silly when she takes a deep breath and nuzzles deeper between us with a big grin across her face.  She feels fully loved, content, supported … she is safe.
Then there’s the Baby.  Her peace at times seems much more easy to attain.  She wants to be clean, fed and warm.  When she was first born she just wanted to be held.  If we put her down for any length of time she would cry and cry.  But as soon as we picked her up and held her close she would calm down.  She just needed to know that she was not alone, she would feel the warmth of whoever was holding her, feel the heartbeat of that person and be content.  She feels fully protected, her needs met …she is at peace.
Shalom is all about the fullness of peace.  The promise of Jesus is that we have access to that peace now.  That yes, Shalom was what was intended for us and what we have to look forward to in heaven but that it is also a gift from him now, in the midst of this world.
So for a kid, whose world is, for the most part, carefree, maybe the promise of Shalom is enough.  If they can identify what it looks like to them, maybe it’s enough for them to grow up hearing over and over again that Shalom is available to them now.

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