DECEMBER 16, 2020    

And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe. – Anonymous

Did you just laugh? Come on, be honest. If you did laugh, was it because it reminded you of someone, perhaps someone wearing your clothes right now?

PEACE can go running for the exit door when we have to be in control – of self, of family, of a committee, of coworkers, and dare it be said, of God. Yes, some people actually operate as if prayer is a way of controlling God! Good luck with that.

In these many months of facing a global pandemic, control seems to be nearly impossible. Yet, we still long for it. If not control, then comfort. PEACE. This is especially tough for us planners. Really hard to plan in a global pandemic, isn’t it? Unsettling. Isn’t it? Why, even venturing out to the grocery store has become a whole new ballgame. All sorts of rules to follow. Wear the mask (hopefully remembering to take a mask!); follow the directional arrows (IF you even see them); and keep your 6-feet distance (yeah, THAT always works).

Attending to these new rules of grocery shopping during COVID, I (Jane) planned to get just a few things. Walking at my usual quick pace, I passed a woman in a motorized cart. Well, almost passed. I noticed she was trying to put her cane in the basket. Near the BIG packs of bottled water. I asked, “Ma’am, do you need some help?” She promptly replied with a lilt in her voice, “Well, yes I do, Honey.” Summoning strength I doubted I had, I loaded one gigantic pack of bottled water into her already-pretty-full basket, then loaded a second pack so that her feet rested upon it. She called me “Sugar” and “Sweetie” and expressed her gratitude repeatedly. We both felt valued. I noticed and helped her. She made me feel appreciated. A small gesture, for sure. During COVID, the small things seem to matter more. Especially the small, unexpected, and unplanned things. Things out of our control. That woman had no idea how she would get those huge packs of bottled water into her cart. I still have no idea why I stopped.

I (Randy) love to play golf, where I am always in control. HA! Golf is like getting into a car with no steering wheel. Some days I finish with a sense of frustration. But on my best days I begin my round before reaching the golf course. I begin with prayer, asking God to help me simply enjoy the outdoors and being with friends, accepting the score as consequential. Giving up control. It helps. Peace.

The Apostle Paul, as disciplined and mentally strong as ever any person, was honest enough to own up to not even being able to control himself. In Romans he wrote: The things that I want to do I cannot do. And the things that I do not want to do I find myself doing. Some of the things we want to do but cannot do this year may include gathering in worship, singing beautiful Christmas songs in a choir, traveling to visit seldom-seen family members, and carrying on longstanding traditions. And some of the things we do not want to do but find ourselves doing might be worrying, feeling sad, and losing hope. These feelings are certainly hard to control.

Does that mean we should not try to control ourselves? Of course not. But we must realize that we are limited. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL run ourselves insane (along with those around us) if we try to “manage the universe.” Especially right now. Instead, manage the moment. Notice more. Appreciate more. When you feel overwhelmed and out of control – and you will sometimes – forgive yourself, even as God, in Christ, has forgiven you. And be at PEACE.

Simple Thought for the Day:
Today I will lay aside the need to be in control, letting God’s peace claim and calm my soul. 

Randy and Jane Hall

Click here to see the complete 2020 Advent Devotional booklet.

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