May You Find Freedom

may you find freedom

May you find freedom today.

May your arms open
To embrace who you are,
And release who others think you should be.

May your mind open
To forget the mistakes of the past
And dream about the possibilities of the future.

May your eyes open
To see beyond your blinders
Into a greater view of the world.

May your life open
To be with those who are different from you
And experience the world from their perspective.

May your heart open
To love without fear
In receiving or in giving.

May you find the freedom
Of the water:
Free to fill empty space
With life and goodness,
Free to make waves
When the wind blows,
Free to be still
When life calls for calm,
Free to create beauty
With the simple act of reflection.

May you find the freedom
Of shalom:
Wholeness and peace.
At one with Your Creator,
At one with the world,
At one with yourself.

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you." - Galatians 5:1 (The Message)

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When I Don't Know How to Pray

Sometimes I struggle to pray for other people. Not because I don't want to, but becasue I don't know how. 

Why would I presume to know what someone else really needs? People ask for prayers for tensions to be resolved or pains to be healed, but what if God is working in their lives in the midst of the difficulties? Should I really pray for that to be cut short? 

Not only that, there's the risk. What if I pray for something for someone, and it doesn't happen? Does knowing I prayed for them simply add to their disappointment in the God they thought would provide? 

How do we even begin to pray for the complicated relationships of the world system? What do we know about how to solve intertwined oppressions of war, poverty, slavery, oppression, and terrorism that God wouldn't already know or long for? What could my prayers add?

As if staring at a blinking cursor with an approaching deadline, I freeze, wondering what should come after a name or a situation in my prayers. 

Subconsciously, I think this is why I forget to pray for other somtimes. I want to avoid the awkward fumbling for words that will surely follow. 

I may have found a word that can unlock this for me. A word that can authentically and deeply pray for another person, and for the world, without presuming to know what is actually best. It is a word that simply asks God to do what God does- to heal, restore, and make whole. 

Shalom. 

Shalom is the Hebrew word often translated as peace, but it is so much more than the way we view the word peace. Shalom means wholeness, friendship, and healing. Shalom is not simply the absence of strife, it is the presence of God and His restoring love. 

Shalom is something we need a lot more of, individually and globally. Shalom is the word I am chosing to pray. 

Loving God, bring Your shalom to us.  

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Advent Series Day 10: a wonderful gift

What is on your mind right now? Right at this moment? I would guess that most of us are stressed in one way or another. We may be thinking about a to-do list that seems insurmountable. We may be thinking about upcoming visits with irritating relatives. We may be thinking about the troubled economy and wondering if we will have enough to pay our bills. We may be thinking about the turbulent world and wondering if humankind will ever stop fighting with each other.

 Don’t we all long for something, or someone, that will make things different?

Isaiah says that someone is the Messiah.

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

The child he talked about in Isaiah 7:14 will not be an ordinary child. He will be a Son, given to us. He will be exceptionally wise. He will be God, our Strong Champion. He will be eternal. And He will be a Bringer of Shalom.

Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, has a great depth of meaning. In English, we often think of peace as simply the lack of turmoil. But Shalom is more. Shalom is completeness, soundness, and contentment. Shalom is the world the way it is supposed to be.

Shalom. Peace. Oh, how wonderful that would be. And oh, how possible it is.

Jesus the Prince of Peace has come.

From a global perspective, this prophecy will not be fulfilled until Jesus comes again. Can you imagine what it will be like when there is no more war? No more oppression? No more corrupt governments? Those will be gone when the Prince of Peace is on the throne.

Though that day is still in the future, peace is still available now. I do not believe this prophecy is speaking only of global peace. Shalom means so much more than that.

 The Prince of Peace brings shalom to our relationship with God.

… since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

Sin destroyed our connection with God. The contrast of His holiness and our brokenness made it impossible for us to have the relationship with Him that we were designed to have. Jesus came to bring restoration through faith.

 The Prince of Peace also brings shalom to our hearts.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

Our restored relationship with God brings with it a wonderful gift: prayer. Through prayer, we have the opportunity to place worries, thanks, and requests in God’s hands. In turn, He, through Christ, places peace in our hearts.

Finally, the Prince of Peace brings shalom to relationships.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15

Letting Christ’s peace rule our hearts is not only about our own contentment, it is also about the way we treat others. Our debt has been paid by Christ. When we recognize that gift, we are freed from having to live as if others owe us something.

Jesus said,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… - John 14:27

The peace Jesus brings is a gift. But like any gift, we have to choose to receive it. We choose whether we want Him to restore our relationship with God. We choose whether we want to pray. We choose whether we want to trust Him with the wounds that can come with relationships. It is not easy. We fail often.

But it the gift of peace is worth trying to open.