Do you find peace elusive? Do circumstances dictate your mood? Does the behavior (or misbehavior) of others rattle you and threaten to steal your joy?
On what does your happiness depend?
One of the greatest lessons we can learn is that peace is not dependent on circumstances when you are in Christ. When my peace is threatened, I know my focus is on the wrong things: problems, injustices, situations.
Getting alone with my Bible and some time with the Lord is really the needed re-calibration for my anxious heart. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee.”
One of my favorite examples from scripture, as you already know, is the humility of Mary.
Mary exemplifies a peace filled heart.
Mary’s world was turned upside down and we see her in a state of surrender. Angel appears, news delivered: You’re going to deliver the Messiah.
Peace. Belief. Surrender.—>And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Mary was living in a time when women had few rights. She was not master of her own destiny. She was dependent on God and she knew it. She called herself a servant–one who does the will of another.
Mary had few resources. She didn’t have riches or influence or people in high places that could get her out of a fix.
It’s easy to romanticize the manger scene with a soft-focused nostalgia. But think about Mary in her material state, flesh and blood, pregnant and uncomfortable with no where to give birth after traveling on a donkey to get to her birthing room, which turns out is no where, because there was no room for them. Plan B: Give birth in a stable on the ground.
Picture her giving of herself in order to give life to another, like every mother does. Her delivery wasn’t sterile or pain free. Shaking, sweating, panting, cold, hot, writhing in pain, holding her breath, frantic to survive another contraction and hoping the excruciating pain would soon be over. Her attitude on the dirt floor and hay bed of a birthing room: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”
When shepherds interrupted the scene to see the newborn, and people were invading their space, chattering on and on about the angels and the stars, about the news, and why they were there…
with all that noise and confusion after you just gave birth.in.a.stable.
and we see that Mary is not joining in with the noise and confusion, and is not agitated or demanding her space or rights, but is simply quiet. At rest. Pondering. Unaffected by the outward circumstances. She knew her God and she simply trusted Him. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
We see very little of Mary during the Lord’s 33 years on earth. We assume she did what normal mothers do. Night after night she nursed baby Jesus. She changed diapers, rocked, burped Him, cleaned a home, made meals, swept floors, cared for Joseph. Nothing spectacular by the world’s standards. Just faithful care for the people around her in her own little sphere of influence. But when we do see her, she was doing the right thing, and following the teachings of God. She followed Joseph when he was warned in a “dream” to flee to Egypt. We don’t see any recorded resistance to Joseph’s leadership. Then, years later, she was faithfully bringing the Lord to the temple when he was 12. Before Jesus first miracle, we see her instructing the servants to “do whatever He tells you.” Her steadfast heart was the same. She still saw herself as a servant of the Lord and trusted in Him.
And this is the secret to our peace as well. We need to see ourselves as servants of the Lord, to do what He commands, to walk where He leads, to serve in humility where He puts us.
Your life may seem mundane and maybe you are doing small things by the world’s standards. You may be obscure and poor and hidden. Maybe you are changing a baby’s diaper, or maybe caring for an elderly parent. And while you’ll never receive recognition for these things, an nobody seems to notice or care, God does see and notice. In fact, you are His servant doing His bidding right there as you feed that baby in the middle of the night, and as you calm that anxious loved one with Alzheimers.
Mary taught us that the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary, are to be embraced as “unto the Lord” and as “from the Lord.” This should teach us to say, with Mary, “Yes, Lord. Anything. Everything. Whatever you think is best for me.”
Mary held the “The Prince of Peace” in her physical arms. We have something better: We are “in Him” and have Him in our hearts.
Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
This Christmas, why not hand over that thing that has toyed with you and robbed you of your joy for so long. Why not meditate on the Prince of Peace and the one who did so much to bring peace with God to your life, heart, and eternity? Like Mary, why not trust God with everything and proclaim yourself a handmaiden/servant of God?
Why did we allow that small thing to steal our joy and peace again? What can threaten our peace now?