There's a big difference between peace and chaos, isn't there? At least we think there is. But during the Christmas season, it seems we must skillfully balance between the two, and sometimes the boundary is blurred.
We sing Joy to the World, or Peace on Earth while we scurry through department stores in the shopping frenzy of the holidays. We make lists, plan menus, coordinate schedules, organize concerts and attend Christmas parties. We bake shortbread with cherries in the middle, make caramel corn, wrap gifts with colorful paper and shiny bows, stuff stockings and constantly hunt for the Scotch Tape or the pen we had in our hands just moments ago. We purchase trees (or assemble them), hang lights, decorate with tinsel, and prepare beds for overnight guests. Oh, and we eat...oh yes, we eat! It's all so wonderful, isn't it?
"It doesn't have to be perfect," we say, but in some ways we believe it does have to be perfect. It's Christmas. Oh, we can handle it if the cat pulls the tree over, or if the kids guess what their gifts are. It's okay if we forget the coleslaw in the fridge during Christmas dinner, if we forget to chill the cranberries, or even if we forget to turn the oven on to bake the turkey. These things we can laugh about, if not now, then later.
Some things though, are just simply not okay. It's not okay if we're offended, if we slam doors, if we have melt-downs or start ugly crying. It's not okay if our words are hurtful, or if we pout in our bedrooms. It's also not okay if we frantically throw on our coats and go walking while gritting our teeth in the cold, alone, especially if we forgot our mitts. "These things must not happen," we say, but we know it's possible when twenty-nine family members get together, when the house is full of noise and activity. That's when anxiety threatens to destroy whatever peace on earth we thought we had.
Maybe the walk in the cold, or a little time alone to process the chaos (pouting?) is not such a terrible thing. Sometimes it's exactly what we need to remember the reason we're going about all this activity. Maybe we need to remember that His peace is not the same as the peace we expect in the world. In fact, His peace takes into consideration that we're human beings. There will be occasions that are difficult, there will be hurt feelings, doors will slam. We can do our best, but we can't control everything, nor should we want to.
Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, experienced birth and death in the midst of chaos, yet He left us with peace, and continues to give us peace. It's the kind of peace that reigns in our hearts. If our hearts are anxious, we need to take time to remember that He IS our peace. We can't always change the circumstances, but we can walk through anything by receiving His gracious provision.
May you be filled with joy and be comforted by His peace this season!
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.
Photo Compliments of Sharon Webb.