Day ONE: Dec 20-26

To embrace someone is powerful . . .
Lead Pastor Isaac taught us that embrace is the means to peace. 
I have five daughters. They range in age from 4 (soon to be 5) to almost 11. With so many children with that short age range you could imagine the seedbed for irritation that is a regular part of our home. 
Shared rooms. Shared clothes. Shared toys.  All of my children are wonderful and kind; but the familiarity of a family mixed with the reality of finite resources give cause for regular squabbles.  
“She took my shirt. She has my doll. She is touching me!!!!”  
Alyssa and I have an important role in shepherding our children’s heart. We are tasked with teaching them how to handle conflict. You and I experience conflict on a regular basis. As human beings we also share finite resources with others. We regularly have the opportunity to handle conflict.  
A few years back we had quite turmoil when one of my daughters accidentally broke the leg off of another’s American Girl doll. It was an accident; but the damage was substantial none the less. What started as an argument quickly escalated to pushing, shoving, and eventually hitting.  We intervened and had the opportunity to talk them both through what happened. 
“She did it. She did it first.” After talking through the issue they both apologized.  The moment wasn’t over. Both girls were still very upset with each other.  We asked the unthinkable.
“Hug your sister.” 
They both were still angry. They both were still experiencing frustration. They were upset with each other, for sure; but they both were embarrassed and a bit ashamed of how quickly they moved to violence.  As they embraced one another something miraculous happened. It seemed small in the moment, but it was profound nonetheless.  What started as a passive half hug turned into an embrace and eventually into a giggle filled wrestling tickle fight.  
If you’ve ever had children you’ve probably seen this play out: fights turned to giggles. But don’t let the familiarity blind you from the supernatural work that is taking place through embrace.  When we embrace, even before our frustrations and emotions have subsided, the Holy Spirit can do an incredible work.  Listen to Paul’s thoughts about the Lord’s embrace of humanity:

8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

God embraced us long before we were ready to embrace him.  He invites us to come to him with open arms long before all of our questions are answered or before our life is cleaned up. In that same way the way of Jesus invites us to embrace others, even our enemies (or our sister who always takes our favorite cardigan), before we have ridded ourselves of emotions. God’s supernatural peace is on the other side of our willingness to embrace. 
Here are a few thoughts for reflection:

  1. Take 5 minutes to meditate on Romans 5:8. Read it three times slowly.  Allow it to marinade your heart in His love. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 
  2. Have you embraced God? Jesus loved you so much that he was willing to go to the cross so that you can experience a deep personal relationship with him.  
  3. Do you have an unresolved relationship in your life? Consider moving towards embrace. It can be small: a phone call or a letter.  Peace is found through embrace.  

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