Sleeves rolled up and sponge in hand, I was scrubbing the bathroom floor when I heard my 7-year-old nanny boy timidly call, “Julianna?”
I turned around to face him, knowing he’d just been let out of his room from a talking back incident we’d had earlier.
“Will you forgive me?” He said it softly, with his head hanging, but I could tell he meant it this time.
I gave him a big hug, thanked him for his humility in coming to me, and told him I loved him. “I love you too,” he said under his breath, and then ran off.
As much as I’d love to nanny perfect children who never talk back, fight with each other, or take an hour to unload the dishwasher :), I’m realizing it is conflict that brings more opportunities to minister to their little hearts. Conflict offers the possibility of reconciliation — a beautiful, gospel-entrenched reality that gives us a little picture of shalom.
Shalom. I first heard the term in Economics class in college. I can’t remember the reason my professor brought it up, but the idea behind the word clicked with me instantly. Peace is a ten-cent word these days, having been stripped of its definition and reclothed so many times it’s lost its identity. So when we hear “therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), it’s hard for ‘peace’ to mean much to us.
Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, carries a much more pregnant meaning: wholeness. Perhaps you’ve experienced the emotional angst that happens when something isn’t whole in your life, a relationship is broken, a question or tragedy haunts you. In the same way, we experience a tiny picture of shalom, wholeness, when forgiveness brings about reconciliation in a relationship. If I get a thrill of joy after I’ve asked forgiveness and reconciled with someone I’ve wronged, how much more valuable is reconciliation with God himself?
Shalom with God came at an incredible price—the crucifixion of His Son. The result is double joy and peace, for not only are we able to enjoy the “walking with God” Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden, but we also have the greater joy of reconciliation with Him. We worship (and thus enjoy) Him not only as our Creator but also our Justifier. Being right with God is the only way to wholeness, shalom.
If you feel like you are unraveling, always requiring noise and activity to hide a deep soul unrest, don’t go on. Do you experience the deep, joy-producing shalom with God that comes only from applying Christ’s blood to your sin-filled soul to be in right standing with a Holy God? That gospel reality is not something merely to be accepted at conversion but a truth to drink deeply of daily, for we sin daily. Then, as much as is possible with you, have you reconciled with the people around you?
Yet, while these heart-checks are essential, we can rest in the fact that shalom is not a status we achieve or a position we earn. It’s a gift, a sweet gift that produces a joy and confidence the world can never achieve. Because of the gospel, regardless of our victories or failures in a given day, Christ offers never-changing shalom. His perfect life and death guaranteed it — not merely a status but a relationship.
Because Christ is Shalom.