Eden, Shalom, and a Week at the Beach
I love beaches. I love the sight of their landscapes and colors, the sound of waves, the smell of saltwater, the feel of the breeze, the taste of fresh seafood, and so much more. I like mountains and deserts and forests too, but beaches are at the top of my list. All my senses are happy there.
I got to spend last week at a beach, and it was wonderful. During one long walk along the shore, I had a conversation with God about how wonderful it was. And I asked him why. Why does this place fill me up more than others? Why can’t I have this peaceful, relaxed feeling at home? What is it about a beach vacation that stirs up something much deeper than simple pleasures and a workless week ought to stir up?
Somewhere in the depths of my spirit I heard an answer. It’s the longing for everything to be right in our world, the echoes of Eden that still resonate within us, the unquenchable desire for that thing called shalom—the peace and wholeness and fullness we were created for. We get glimpses of shalom at times, like when everything on the to-do list is crossed off, or when a relentless desire is finally fulfilled, or, in my case, when nature explodes around me with the sights and sounds and smells of the shore. There are rare moments when we can say, “Everything seems right in my world.” That’s shalom. And we desperately crave it.
I believe one of God’s strongest desires is to create shalom in our hearts and let it work its way outward into the world around us. It begins in a relationship with the Prince of Shalom (somehow the translation “Prince of Peace” doesn’t quite capture it). And while some aspects of this desire have a one-day-in-the-future fulfillment, it has right-here-right-now implications. It means I can, at least theoretically, carry the experience of vacation into the expectations of this workweek.
As a carrier of the kingdom, that’s what ought to happen in me every day. Instead of letting my outward environment shape my insides, I can expect my inward environment to shape whatever is going on outside of me. Inner peace impacts outward chaos. Because nothing is impossible with the Prince of Shalom.
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