We’re nearing the end of 2018 and as much as most of us wish we could reflect on a year of relative peace with an absence of conflict at home, abroad, and in our own hearts, most of us will also say it hasn’t been so. Every December I sing the words, “His law is love and His gospel is peace,” and I look within me and around me, and see hardly anything but a frail world wrought with seemingly less love and little peace. Each year’s end, I think of the poem by Wendell Berry, In a Time That Breaks:
In a time that breaks
in cutting pieces all around,
when men, voiceless
against thing-ridden men,
set themselves on fire, it seems
too difficult and rare
to think of the life of a man
grown whole in the world,
at peace and in place.
Is it possible, I think, to see the whole life of a man grown here at peace and in place? Or have we wreaked too much havoc with our armchair quarterbacking and social media hot takes and editorials upon commentaries upon opinions upon small shards of truth somewhere in there? Has the term fake news paled all the real news in comparison? Where is the truth in all this mess, and can we ever find it through the rubble? We seek understanding because we are human and God made us curious, but we also seek truth and sometimes invent it ourselves because God also made us creative.
How does one be at peace and in place this December (and January, and 2019, and well, all of life)? Or, better yet, how can you be at peace and in place? First, I think, it must take some remembrance of who we are, and next, whose we are, and foundationally, who God is.
If I scurry around this holiday season trying and failing again and again to find peace within myself, to invent moments of it, I will fail. We can only be at peace and in place by remembering we are not the Christ. We cannot heal all that is hurt or fix all that is broken. We cannot complete what he has left unfinished (for now) and we cannot create peace from a fractured creation.
We belong to God and He has set us in this time, this place, this family, this government, this country, this church, and this geographic region for His purposes and glory. But not just His purposes and glory, but our good, too. We are His and His law is love and His gospel is peace. Not the love we can conjure up with our gifts on Christmas day, beautiful dinner spreads, or New Year resolutions. We will never accomplish with our love to others or ourselves what He accomplished through the cross.
He is love and He is peace. And “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.” How does one grow up in this world “at peace and in place”? We remember God holds the truth in His hands and He holds the world in them, too. What we see as hopelessly fractured and impossibly unresolved, He holds in His attentive hands, not slumbering or sleeping, but keeping (Psalm 121:4).
Be at peace, Christian, and in place, in His law and His love.