Today’s garden is no Eden—I’ve never been more aware of it. It’s nothing close! It’s marked by noise, fast pace and a drive-through hurry. I’m cheered on for plate-spinning and rushing here to there, I expect all God’s good things to-go and on my time. I’m tired of running but it’s all I know. Hurry’s familiar—it’s Shalom I hardly recognize. But I hear You, J. Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.
Accustomed to restlessness, I think Shalom sounds foreign, outlandish and unproductive. I don’t have time to hunt for it! But I’ve heard the whispers. On repeat, Shalom. Shalom. Shalom. He knows better, so I set out to study and really find it. I cried out for it and hunted for it and raced to get to it and relentlessly asked God to hand some over. I convinced myself it’s a lost treasure or a season or a spiritual gift not mine. It must be found in achievement, applause, a vacation or a check-things-off satisfaction. My Rabbi is patient. He knows I’ve got it all wrong—He saw me run right past it! But He’s not like the rest of them. He doesn’t shake His head or call me crazy or tell me to come back here right this minute. He takes off running. He catches up to me! He matches my pace and talks back.
Shalom is not a gold star or a place or even a Person. Shalom’s a promise—and from me, my God withholds no good thing. He offers it always—shalom’s mine. Shalom is unclenched fists, palms wide open and ready to receive. Shalom is releasing the heavy stuff, surprised as it falls feathery light and makes no sound. Shalom’s still waters and a whisper that’s somehow louder than all the noise. Shalom is leaving things undone, and not looking back! Shalom has no agenda. Shalom doesn’t play hide-and-seek or demand your attention. Shalom doesn’t sit behind curtains or wait to be found and uncovered. Shalom doesn’t make you take off messy shoes once you get to it. And shalom is not the absence of things hard or things dark or crashing waves or chaos—it’s even better! Shalom’s the inner stilled spirit smack-dab in the middle of it. And the best part? In the midst of all the hustle, Shalom sits still.
Jesus declares, Shalom. My exhale is Shalom itself. Breathe it in. Taste it, swallow it. My world is still spinning, trees still blurring beside me, my legs are still running but something’s different. My insides are different, my spirit’s different—slower, fuller, content, complete. That’s it! He’s made (and won’t stop making!) Shalom known to me. It’s simpler than I thought or imagined. More than a shalom talking-to, the Rabbi offers a piece of Eden to the rush hour world “to reestablish shalom. This is God’s mission in His son—to reconcile rebel hearts to Himself and reestablish shalom for His glory and our joy” (Bruce Henry). Shalom’s part of the promise, ours for the taking—we’ve got to slow down or we just might miss it!
We’re on this chase together and I can’t take my eyes off of Him. I forget what I’m searching for! It’s like we’re talking over coffee and Shalom is His every answer and my Jesus is talking clear as day back. A hundred books or scholars couldn’t teach me like the Rabbi is. A peace unfamiliar— must be from the Other Side—surpasses all my understanding, insecurity, agenda, hurry and the stack of things unfinished. I start to move a little differently than the world taught me to. I slow my pace, pay a little closer attention, stare wide-eyed at the glory passing by, notice the colors and the clock ticking and the fine print. Then, something wild happens: I start to exhale Shalom too.
Hey J, thanks for showing up mid-run where You knew I’d listen. I’m thankful You beckon, and pull me from interstate speed off-road just to see what slow tastes like—and when I miss my exit, You run to me. Thanks that Shalom is unfazed by frenzy and its dimensions are stretched out on all sides. Shalom is enough. Though I’m lacking, it fills the holes. It’s a little tiny taste of Eden—one bite and I’m whole, full, satisfied and in less of a hurry. Keep it coming! Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.