My headspace too often resembles a Los Angeles traffic jam. All snarls and congestion filled with frenetic maneuvering and slammed stops.
I wish it wasn’t so. There are counter measures, I know, and I daily work to employ them. But what often begins as a savoring of the wee hours, quiet in His goodness, can by midday have transformed into a asphalt parking lot, marked by blazing heat and even hotter tempers. I’m eventually wedged between the revving, turbo-engined NOW (zero to sixty in half-a-second) and the hefty fifteen passenger STUFF TO DO (you know, those swanky new models that can’t even fit into a parking garage?).
So last month I decided it was time to get away. Alone. Actually, it wasn’t I who decided. My seize-the-day daughter approached me, very lovingly, mind you, and challenged me that it was time. I needed to get out of town and take care of the things which the Lord had been nudging me to do for, well… months. My ever supportive husband concurred. Go.
Stop the world and get off.
Years ago I would grin when my mother-in-love would make use of that phrase, her favorite description of those little jaunts away from home which my in-laws would take.
I’ve decided to adopt it.
This week I finally made my way out of the valley and into the mountains, breathing deeply as my four-cylinder Hyundai chugged the climb. And the moment I opened the door to the Hideaway Chalet, I felt it.
I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
There’s something about perspective. The giants that tend to loom somehow lose their ferocious umph. I spent my days walking and worshipping. Praying. Writing and studying. Reading. Reading. Reading.
As the hours whiled themselves away, no agenda, and as I dug into the Word, ideas began to jump out. Timeless truths, all fresh and new to me.
I happened upon the first chapter of Galatians and noticed Paul’s greeting. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
All of a sudden it struck me, how often I’d heard that phrase in Paul’s letters to the churches. So I flipped through book after book, making notes. I discovered that although his greetings differed slightly in a few of his epistles, he employed the words grace and peace every time. EVERY TIME.
And I realized that in his simple, somewhat redundant greeting, Paul was trying to make a point. He could have chosen many different words to hail those first century Christians. He might have considered using synonyms, just to keep from sounding repetitious. He could have even rotated between the nine different Spirit fruits, the ones he himself listed in Galatians 5.
Patience and goodness to you. Self-control and meekness to you.
But, no. At the risk of coming off as unoriginal, repetitive or just plain unimaginative, he chose the same words time and again. Grace and peace. Grace and peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I lounged on the deck chair, a bevy of birds twittering overhead, I came to an honest assessment. I so desperately long for His grace and peace. Grace, because without God’s unmerited favor, I just can’t make it through the day, let alone into eternity. And peace, because without the all-pervasive shalom of God, quite frankly I’m a harried, busy, striving mess.
But more than just longing for a capful of those blessings, I’m looking for an overflowing bucket. A deep well. A fathomless ocean. I want more of God’s favor on my life than I think I deserve or can even handle, because where God’s grace is, there His presence is. And I want more peace than I even know what to do with, because I don’t want to horde it for myself. I want it to cascade like liquid gold from my life, a sweet perfume wafting into every circumstance encountered, shifting the atmosphere.
I need His grace and peace like I need the air I breathe. Whether it’s the pine-scented invigoration of mountain breezes or the smoggy congestion of LA freeways, I want to carry those gifts so fully that I am soaked. Beautifully. Deeply. Richly.
We’re heading into a new season, my small tribe and I. God’s delivered a call and we’ve answered with our best YES. In addition to doing some deep breathing, I needed to get away to prepare my heart. To process the swirl of changes just around the bend, strengthening myself in the Lord. And as He is constantly faithful to do, He’s revealed to me the tools I need for the task, the ones He’s already gifted to me without measure. They were right there beneath my nose. I just needed eyes to see.
Grace and peace.
Photo by Rachel Allene.