She was young. Probably really young.
And probably really scared.
She had never done this before. Mary had never birthed a baby, never groaned hard through such intense pain. There were stable smells, and there was blood, and there were ancient prophecies hanging in the air over it all.
Heaven split the sky that night, and the angels sang it over some shepherds and over the whole earth:
Peace had come.
This tiny one, wrapped tightly against the cold air, brought peace.
Not calm. Calm isn’t the same thing as peace.
It’s possible for everything to be as smooth on the surface as a frozen lake, the night still and quiet, while underneath our unsatisfied souls stir like a beast in deep water. We feel it, the dark chill of things-not-right pressing an ache into our bones. We feel it and wrestle against the pain of living with our hearts out of joint.
And we know at our core that something is very wrong.
Mary was still healing, the pain of Jesus’ birth still fresh in her memory, when the old priest Simeon held her little son and proclaimed in the same breath that salvation had come and that her own soul would be pierced through.
Real peace is costly. Jesus didn’t come to smooth things over and make us comfortable. He came to take off our masks, to reveal our wounded places, to make us take a hard look at the ways we’ve tried to fill our own hollowness with empty things.
Our peace cost Jesus His life.
That holy night when the army of angels sang a victory song of glory to God and peace to mankind, they weren’t just celebrating Jesus’ birth; they were wild with joy over the restoration they saw coming.
The baby would grow to be a man who would hang nailed to rough wood, His bones all out of joint, to heal all the things-not-right, bringing us back into relationship with His Father and resetting our weary, dislocated hearts. He came to break through our icy surface calm, to reach deep inside and still our restless souls, to hold us close and breathe feeling back into all our numb places. For a time, our awakening spirits may feel a bit scared and may even throb like we’ve been pierced through. But let’s hang on, friends, because we’re being cut loose from our binding soul scars and released into full-lunged freedom.
And it’s there we’ll find His peace, the only kind of peace that goes all the way to the core.
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This world can be a heavy place.
The kind of heavy that presses down and makes it hard to breathe.
We rush to outrun pain and busy ourselves to forget the crushing weight of days and months and years that don’t turn out the way we thought they would. All of us who have lived a little while know it, that pounding of a frenzied heart racing to keep a desperate body moving. And we push on like we’re been chased by time, carrying that airless ache in our chests.
“And what do you do?”
It’s a normal question, a defining question. Tell me what you do with your time, so I can understand who you are.
For a lot of us, if we’re honest, the answer would be, “I wait.”
We wait for the next thing, wait for the kids to be grown, wait for our ship to come in, wait for the right relationships, wait for our dreams to come true and our questions to be answered. And sometimes the waiting drives us a little out of our minds.
We fidget and spin circles, and our impatience drives us so hard against tomorrow that we forget to see today.
We forget to see the truth.
Waiting is close to God’s heart.
We’re born with an instinct to be curled inward, legs pulled up and fists closed tight. It’s what feels natural and comfortable. As we grow, our bodies adapt and learn to function stretched tall and open, but a lot of us keep living in an emotional fetal position. We’re afraid to be seen and known. We’re afraid of pain and loss and not having enough.