I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan. It was, and still is, a “no stoplight” kind of town. There are a handful of businesses, one grocery store, two gas stations, a few restaurants and two ice cream parlors. It is a vacation area, and it is considered to be busy when there are three cars waiting to turn at the corner.
On Christmas Eve, after spending the day preparing for family events and worship services, my family would have a dinner of homemade soup and bread, and then my dad would take my sister, brother and me into town to shop for presents. Of the few shopping options available, one store remained open until 5:00 PM on Christmas Eve, the pharmacy/gift shop. As we drove to and from town, there always seemed to be a light snow-fall. The streets were mostly empty, and the freshly fallen snow painted a clean crisp white layer of decoration for Christmas. Darkness settled in, and the streetlights and the moon shone. All was calm. All was bright. Peace.
'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." John 14:27 (NIV)
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, to let them know that the Holy Spirit would remain among them. They were feeling afraid that he was leaving. Their hearts were full of worry. But Jesus reminded them of his Perfect Peace.
Life's daily challenges can leave us feeling the opposite of peaceful. We face obstacles and set-backs, like medical situations, weather-related travel delays, and the loss of loved ones. No matter what we face, Jesus has handled it for us. Nothing is too big for our God who loves us. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
As we prepare for Christmas, I pray that we all remember the Peace that Jesus leaves with us, the Peace He gives us. He has overcome the world.