23 Jan Receiving the Day
So, how is your year going so far? Is it the perfectly wonderful year you imagined on New Year’s Day?
New Year’s Day. Just three short weeks ago, yet it feels like a universe away. Already my year has been visited by death, failure, illness, and deep disappointment. Not only have things not gone the way I hoped or envisioned, the first twenty-three days of this year have been rife with stress and difficulty. And, I am not the only one. At a recent church meeting, one participant spoke of three life-threatening or catastrophic life situations among her colleagues at work—all occurring in the first week of 2020.
All of this has me thinking about peace. It’s clear from both Scripture and life that peace cannot be dependent upon our circumstances. We cannot look outside ourselves for peace. Our culture seems to suffer from an epidemic of discontent, and one of the primary culprits is our “if only/as soon as” thinking: if only he would love me, I’d be happy. If only I had more money, I’d be content. As soon as I finish school/have a child/the kids leave for college/I lose 20 pounds I will be okay. This type of thinking is actually a form of addiction, according to Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, though we seldom recognize it as such.
Peace, rather than being a result of our circumstances, is a spiritual condition of the heart. Peace does not negate the very real challenges that life throws at us. It is not escapist, nor does it require denial of harsh realities. Instead, it sits alongside the realities of our daily ups and downs. Rooted in the profound truth of God’s love and care for us, peace allows us to receive the body blows of life without being knocked out by them. It allows us to maintain a posture of gratitude, trusting that even in pain and death, gifts of redemption and new life are possible.
Robert Wicks, one of my favorite authors, penned a phrase that has stayed with me for nearly two decades. “Receive the day,” he writes. Receive what comes, as it comes, not as I wish it would come. Receive each day as a gift, receive the joys and the sorrows, receive and accept my own humanity and the humanity of others. Receive my limitations as well as my strengths. I find that as I am able to practice “receiving” with no expectations attached, I am better able to access and enjoy the serenity that God wants for me.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,” Jesus said. “I do not give to you as the world gives. [Therefore,] do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Perhaps, like me, your soul is longing for peace today. I invite you to let go of your expectations and any “if only/as soon as” thinking that is keeping you in knots. Receive your day as it really is, knowing that both blessing and challenges can hold gifts for you. Finally, listen to Jesus speak directly to your heart: “My peace I give to you.” Breathe in God’s peace, for all is well, and all shall be well.
Yours for the Kingdom,