As a young Christian, I put so much effort into what I was like on the outside. I did not grow up in a house that followed our Lord. Some would define it as “dysfunctional.” The Christians I knew lived very differently, though. When I became a Christian, I thought it was important that “I” change the way I presented myself, controlling my actions, words, and even interests. I was convinced that those changes were the proof of a new life in Jesus. The truth was that I was manufacturing that “change” in my own control, and most times it was inauthentic and hard.
Peace. The very word can settle my soul immediately. In fact, I have several “Peace” signs around my house in an array of Christmas colors and varieties of glitter. As one who has a very active mind that can often lead to worry or fear, the thought of the word “peace” brings me, well … peace.
In the final days and hours of my mom’s life, God gave me a sense of peace that was unexplainable in human terms. The gift was not just for me, but for others. At a time when there could have been great sadness, anxiety, or feelings of injustice, there was an overwhelming awareness of Christ’s presence and goodness (Philippians 4:7).
A quick online search reveals the popular definition of peace is, put simply, the absence of trouble or discomfort. If that definition holds true, it should follow that once I rid myself of stressors, I will have peace. Once I accomplish everything on my to do list, I’ll have peace. If I keep everyone around me happy, I’ll have peace. When that person stops playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat, I’ll have peace.
I had always thought of heaven as a place, not a person. I thought it was the place we go after we die to be with Jesus and the Father forever. Heaven was God’s dwelling place. The kingdom of heaven was the realm or region where God was dominant. How, then, could it be a person?