When our first child was a baby, he was what you might call a “good sleeper”, meaning he fell asleep with little encouragement and then usually slept through the night. And not only was he a good sleeper, (and perhaps to first-time, weary parents more importantly) a good waker-upper! It wasn’t unusual to wake up to the sounds of him playing in his crib or kicking his chubby little legs while being transfixed by the ponies floating from his overhead mobile.
When his little sister came along just 15 months later, without actually ever saying it out loud, I think we just assumed she would follow in her big brother’s sleep-steps….after all, she shared not only his cute, peaceful little room with the occasionally squeaky wooden floors, but they also shared the same DNA. Their parents obviously knew a thing or two about sleeping babies!
I think you’re probably already ahead of me on this one… Imagine our surprise when baby girl fought sleep like a cranky tiger cub and woke up demanding immediate human attention, preferably from a parent who would pick her up and provide steady interaction! I soon learned that the only way to help her go to sleep (and stay asleep) was to attend to her whimpering before a full-out squall ensued, and what she seemed to respond to the absolute best was to have her tiny little back patted as she drifted off. But as soon as I would v e r y s l o w l y back away from her bed toward the exit (did I mention the squeaky wooden floor?!) she seemed to sense a shift in the force, her head would lift up and she would look at me with quivering lips and eyes that seemed to say,
“Please don’t leave me…”
This is the second Sunday in Advent, one in which we light the candle of peace and reflect on the gift of peace brought to us in the form of the Christ child. And as I’ve been thinking about what to write for this Sunday, rather than peace specifically, the word that keeps coming to me is assurance. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that, but while thinking about what assurance might have to do with peace, I remembered baby girl and her need to have her back patted to go to sleep. What she really needed wasn’t the rhythmic sensation on her back as much as she just needed assurance that I was still there – that she wasn’t alone. And it suddenly became clear to me what assurance has to do with peace.
Sometimes the path to peace has to begin with knowing we aren’t alone. Sometimes we need to be assured that even in the chaos of life, through loss and illness, through broken relationships and stress of all kinds – Jesus is with us – right here in all of it, and he’s not impatiently looking for the exit so he can get some rest! The true peace that came when Heaven invaded earth that first Christmas didn’t promise the absence of conflict, but provided assurance that we never, ever need to face it alone, and that is where we find peace – in the knowing it’s going to be all right.
What an amazing gift that is!
Oh, how I would love for Jesus to give me some back pats to help me settle my fears and quiet my mind so I can truly find rest for body and soul, and the truth is, he has! It just comes in the form of meditating on his word, remembering his faithfulness, talking about him with other believers and most importantly, just talking to HIM, and, once assured he is still there and isn’t going anywhere….resting in his peace.
If the idea of peace seems like a long shot for your hurting heart this year, I so understand – I truly do! So, maybe the reason I found the word “assurance” to talk about peace is just for you (and for me, too.) Let’s allow ourselves to receive complete assurance that not only are we not alone, but that healing takes place when we least expect it as we rest in the assurance of his presence…and find peace.
Peace and love,