Are you ready? It’s a good one this week. But first, here is a commissioned illustration I finished recently! My dear friend, Rachel, asked if I would do a 4-paned drawing of a tree depicting the 4 seasons:
Good thing I love drawing gnarly trees… 😀 ((Should you desire prints of such a thing, they are 5×7 and all 4 are $40 total plus shipping. $10 for an individual print.))
Moving on… This week’s Abundance verse is Colossians 3:15.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
I have long loved this verse. There is a doodle of it in my Idea Book from a couple years ago, which looked like this:
((I realized after publishing this that for some reason this picture isn’t showing up… sheesh. Sorry, folks, I will work on getting it to work… Or I’ll just move on and forget about it…))
And I was so going to print off a copy of it for this week’s project, but of course the moment I actually want to use our printer, it’s out of ink. The “ever-parched printer” as Ann said- this week as a matter of fact. So, I just drew a new one, which looks very similar.
It is actually part of the section I wrote about last week, but somehow I unintentionally didn’t include verse 15… So, I can’t take credit for planning it this way. Maybe it was a God thing? Anyway, this verse is a big deal for me, for what I want my life, relationship, and home to be about. The peace of Christ.
If peace is to rule, it follows that other things cannot. Things like the Busy Badge. I can’t take credit for coining this bit of genius. I heard it during a recorded training from a leader in the company through which I have a home business. She was using it in reference to a book by Brigid Schulte, which is about a study of women- specifically, moms who work part-time, who are supposedly in the category of the most stressed out people in the world. (Full disclosure: I haven’t read this book yet, and I don’t know that I agree with every single thing she says in that interview I linked to her name, just fyi. That said, there’s still truth there.)
“I’m busy.” One of the phrase that I found myself internally rolling my eyes at the most while working my home business. Because you’re not too busy to get a haircut, to get your oil changed, to buy groceries, because you make time for all those things. That’s what I found myself saying… in my head. Granted, we all have busy seasons, but I would argue that it’s an overused word. “Busy.” As tired and exhausted a word as we are in reality. And I think what really irked me about people saying this word to me was the mentality behind it.
Once, I heard the phrase referred to as a “humble-brag” which surpasses much of what I could say to attempt to describe it. All at once, the person touting their busy badge is self-deprecating and yet self-exalting, making a martyr of themselves- merely a reactive victim of life, and at the same time raising themselves on an isolated pedestal, as though you could never understand the swirl of chaos that encircles them like a vulture around it’s prey.
And in the past, I’ve wanted to say, “No one makes you spend your time the way you do. It’s up to you! Don’t make me feel bad for your choices.” (Yes, I recognize no one can make you feel a certain way without your consent.)
But here’s the thing. About the time I would get riled up thinking these things, I would glance in the mirror, and really- did I look any different? Especially now, in this new season of being a parent, a wife, an artist, a teacher all at the same time? Hadn’t I been guilty of donning the Busy Badge as my go-to accessory? Maybe I have gotten better about not blurting it out and exposing that I’m just as bad as anyone else. Now, I think I’m just sneakily not saying it out loud, but it’s still there, lurking behind the jokes about my schedule, or sighs I let escape even when I’m just at home by myself. Yup, I’m just as bad as anyone.
And let me be clear- being busy in the sense that you’re active and invested in your life and the lives of those around you isn’t bad in itself. But- for me at least- it can turn into tasks for their own sake. Which feels more like the legalistic and rigid rules the pharisees added to the law. Like here in Mark 2. And Jesus calls them out on that toxic way of living. Mere rule-following doesn’t imply a rich relationship with God, neither does a task-filled calendar imply a full life. That kind of busy becomes Worry’s bedfellow. It, too, is like a rocking chair. You’re in constant motion, but you’re still going nowhere.
Maybe we are spent. Our energy, our money, our attention- all spent. And we wonder why we never feel enough. We say yes to so many good things; does it follow that sometimes we miss out on the best thing? And in some odd, twisted way, isn’t the polished busy badge a way of worshiping our lack and glorifying our brokenness? What a strange idolatry… God, save us from ourselves. God- who is the only Enough, the Master of all schedules, Lord over time- is the only one who makes our busyness more than busyness. In our own strength, it’s only ever weariness and rundown rat-race. In his hands, moments are redeemed, we can breathe, and even our chaos is ordered. And fragmented and fractured lives become part of the fractal of his glory. ((I just love that word… fractal. People ought to use it more often. I got super excited when I was watching Frozen recently and realized there’s a line in “Let It Go” where Elsa sings about frozen fractals… Way to go songwriting team!))
So how do we get to THAT place?? Where we are protected by peace, and not slaves to the schedule? If the peace of Christ really is to rule in our hearts, maybe we need to dig deeper?
I remember the greeting. How the Jews say, “Shalom.” Shalom means “peace.” But that word often doesn’t fall on our ears with its true weight. Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word “shalom” as completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace, and other stuff (click the link and check it out). But it’s not just a temporary peace- easily shattered by life’s traffic jams and tragedies. It’s not only a principle, it’s God’s point and purpose. The whole story of the Bible- His Story and ours- centers around this proclamation of hope: He is coming. He is come. He is coming again. And why? Because only through him- through Jesus- will we find complete wholeness, healing, joy, and the infinite and indescribable blessing of living completely in the Presence of God together. That’s the plan. So, as He is still accomplishing this, what do we do in the mean time? Here are Barnes’ Notes on the subject.
Preside in your hearts; sit as umpire there (Doddridge); govern and control you. The word rendered here “rule” – βραβεύετω brabeuetō- is commonly used in reference to the Olympic and other games. It means, to be a director, or arbiter of the public games; to preside over them and preserve order, and to distribute the prizes to the victors. The meaning here is, that the peace which God gives to the soul is to be to us what the brabeutes, or governor at the games was to those who contended there. It is to preside over and govern the mind; to preserve every thing in its place; and to save it from tumult, disorder, and irregularity. The thought is a very beautiful one. The soul is liable to the agitations of passion and excitement – like an assembled multitude of men. It needs something to preside over it, and keep its various faculties in place and order; and nothing is so well fitted to do this as the calm peace which religion gives, a deep sense of the presence of God, the desire and the evidence of his friendship, the hope of his favor, and the belief that he has forgiven all our sins. The “peace of God” will thus calm down every agitated element of the soul; subdue the tumult of passion, and preserve the mind in healthful action and order – as a ruler sways and controls the passions of assembled multitudes of people.
I love that he says peace is to “sit as an umpire there; govern and control you.” We have such negative connotations of something else “controlling” us, but in this case, isn’t it a great thing? Isn’t it a relief to yield control (which you don’t really have anyway) to the one Person who actually knows what’s going on? And not only does he know what’s going on, he is bringing all things into the wholeness of his love- wholeness, soundness, welfare, peace. Shalom. Isn’t that just so wonderful?! And just fyi, I can’t pretend to have as deep an understanding as this guy seems to. But it reminds me how much we miss when we just hear the surface of a word’s meaning. ((But still, isn’t it so encouraging to know that behind our small words and small lives there is big meaning? To know that we only see a minuscule part of the picture, and that God is infinitely bigger and more wonderful than we can even comprehend? I for one would not be worshiping him if I thought I could understand every part of him… I mean, he wouldn’t be God if that were the case, right? But that’s not exactly what we’re talking about here…))
So, may you and I breathe more deeply the peace of Christ this week, in every frenetic and fleeting moment. May the peace of Christ wear the crown; may it rule in our hearts.