“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone…” This is the verse that greeted me upon opening my calendar this new year.
Funny thing that verse showing up in January. All throughout December, as a year marred by terror attacks, beheadings, and ugly discussions on which lives matter drew to a close, it is this melody that surfaced over and over in my head:
“Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me…
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally”
Forgiveness is my first thought whenever the snow begins to gently fall this time of year. I have a childhood singsong to thank for that beautiful word picture:
“My heart was black with sin
Until the Savior came in.
His precious blood I know
Has washed it white as snow.”
Peace is always my second thought.
Every snowfall reminding me of God layering grace on us,
overlaying our mistakes with His mercy,
covering our failures with His unfailing love.
Everything dusted anew with sparkles and shimmers.
Everything blanketed in white.
Everything at peace.
But below the soft white I know there is hard dirt.
And mud for slinging.
And blood-covered bullets.
And heartbreak and hard feelings.
And fear-stoking, division-creating, peace-destroying labeling.
And instead of quiet peace there is shouting. So much shouting. Thirty-second, 144-character, white-on-red scrolling bits incessantly calling for my attention.
The attention of not only my eyes, but of my thoughts.
Thoughts which give way to my emotions,
emotions which find their way into my heart,
my heart out of which ultimately flows my actions and words.
O be careful little eyes what you see.
Be careful little ears what you hear.
O my soul, do not return mud with mud or barbs with barbs.
Rather return pain with quite peace, poison with gentle pardons.
Let forgiveness be what flows out from my heart.
Let peace be what flows from my mouth.
O my soul, turn down the volume on the noisy selling, blaming, comparing, labeling, postulating. Instead let my heart meditate on the still small voice that beckons to us all
“Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
“Be at peace with each other,”
“My peace I give you.”
This is how I want to begin my new year: letting the Prince of Peace flow through me and into my relationships with my neighbors,
emailers and customers,
fellow cart-pushing grocery store shoppers,
ballot casters on the other side of the issues,
gym class workout-ers with head coverings.
Insomuch as it is up to me, and what I say, what I do, what I write, and how I act, help me Lord to spread peace because every single one of us is in need of your gently falling grace. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Share your prayer for the new year in the comments below perhaps?