I had a rather bizarre situation happen this week in my house with bees. Yes, bees. I was having a lovely cup of tea with my friend Di when a really huge bee flew into the lounge from the patio doors. No biggy, just a bee, we commented on the size of it and then carried on the conversation. Except the buzzing didn’t get quieter, it got louder, and after a minute or so I noticed that Di wasn’t really looking at me anymore, she was looking just past me because it wasn’t just one bee that had flown into the lounge, but seven.
There were seven bees with more bees trying to get in.
Well. I’ve nothing against bees, but my lounge is not the place where they’re going to find pollen. In pondering my bizarre bee experience this week I did a bit of reading about how bees follow each other to find what they’re looking for.
Did you know, you probably do because you’re very clever (I can tell), that the way bees communicate where to find the crème de la crème of pollen is by doing a wee wiggle dance back at the hive? I love that. Imagine the hubby asking where his keys are and instead answering I communicated via interpretive dance where the keys would be. That would be so fun. Fun for me, not for him.
Anyway, back to the bees in my lounge. I can only assume that whichever bee did the dance that morning it got a little lost in translation. Because all of a sudden all the bees thought my lounge was the place they were going to hit the jackpot. No bees. Just no.
So, to stop more bees entering we closed the doors and windows and then set about trying to encourage the bees to exit the lounge, guiding them with a bit of card towards the door, opening it just a crack ushering them out, and then shutting the doors again because the bees were still confused and thinking that my lounge was their mecca. Some bees were compliant, others were downright stubborn and getting themselves in quite the tizzy at the thought of going towards the freedom of the day where flowers and pollen were in abundance, they were determined to burrow themselves behind the curtains, where, had they stayed, certain death would await them from suffocation in the heat.
Eventually, after much intentionality and cajoling, Di and I saved each and every bee. Not one was left behind. Thank you. Thank you very much.
You might wonder why I’m telling you this story about bees. Here’s what Holy Spirit downloaded to me a few days later. I’m telling you about the bees, because I am a bee. And I suspect you might be too.
Hear me out.
The bees’ issue was that they all followed one another thinking that they were headed towards their one wish, pollen. All too often, I get sucked into following others believing that they’re going to have the answer to my one wish. That if I follow this trend or start that habit then maybe I’ll find that all elusive peace.
But we can have money in the bank and still no peace in our hearts. We might be successful on the outside but incredibly empty on the inside. For all the things that are going well for us, for everything that’s stacked in our favour, we still experience tension, fear, anxiety, depression, bitterness, overwhelm, stress. . . the list goes on.
We think that the solution to the pain that we feel is to get busy. Get as busy as a bee. Striving, working, hustling, primping and preening, we copy what others are doing hoping they might have the answer to happiness and peace. And sometimes we get to where we think we need to be. We reach the lounge. Only to discover there’s no pollen and there’s no peace.
In Isaiah 26:3 (NLT), the writer says this:
“You [talking about God] will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
This was written to a people living in a world not that dissimilar from the one we find ourselves in today: there was much unsettledness and fear. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, moral was low, the military state was in control. There was a distinct lack of peace. Into this context, the declaration was made that “perfect peace” was available.
So for those of you who like to know about the original language when we dive into the bible, the Hebrew for the word peace here is ‘shalom’. And it encapsulates so much more about peace than our English allows for. ‘Shalom’ is a completeness, a wholeness, something that is without lack. It is the real deal of peace. And a fun fact is that in the original text for this verse it actually says, “You will be kept in shalom shalom.”
Now any time you get repetition in Hebrew you need to take notice. What’s being offered, what God is extending, is a double portion of peace. The full, real deal, lacking nothing, all-encompassing peace that includes security, well-being, health, soundness and completeness. This is a peace that is accessible regardless of your circumstance because this peace envelops you and becomes part of who you are.
This shalom, this peace, is the peace that Jesus said He came to give us. It’s the peace the angels announced that very first Christmas. And get this, it’s a peace that once you’ve received it can’t be taken away. Jesus said, “Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.” He’s not offering a façade. He’s not leading us in the wrong direction. He’s offering true, perfect, shalom, complete and whole peace (John 14:27).
Jesus isn’t offering us a bit of peace, a tokenistic top-up. He is offering HIS peace. He’s offering us shalom shalom. His is the peace that invades your body despite the bad news from the doctor. His is the peace that fills you to overflowing when the bills are stacking, your kids are awol, addiction is rife, and you’ve been rejected and abandoned. His peace passes all understanding no matter what you’re facing. No matter the disappointment, no matter the confusion, no matter the emptiness you feel when no one else is around and you’re left alone with your thoughts.
His is the peace that we all wish for but have looked in all the wrong places to find it.
And here’s where the bees return. Jesus doesn’t leave us like the bees in my lounge in a total tizzy, confused, frustrated, lost and lacking. He comes after us individually, one by one, to guide us to freedom, to guide us to life, to guide us to blessing and fullness, and peace. He seeks you out, much like Di and I sought out each bee from behind the curtain. He sees and knows you. He knows your name, and He wants a relationship with You to lead you to peace. He guided us (and still guides us today if we’ll let Him, if we are not a stubborn bee) He guided us by becoming one of us and showing us the way himself. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, He is the peace we’re all so desperate for.
He is the perfect peace that anchors you through any storm. The peace that satisfies and leaves you with perfect contentment no matter what.
Just as the angels announced peace to the shepherds, the lowest of the low, the outcast and rejected, the dirty and lowly. Jesus came that first Christmas as the Prince of Peace to usher each and every one of us – no matter how confused, no matter how far away we might have flown, no matter how lost we might be – all who are willing to follow His lead, towards hope, freedom and life.
I’m going to hazard a guess that we’re all bees in some form. Perhaps we’re totally lost and clueless as to where we’ll find peace, maybe we’ve been following someone else’s directions believing it would bring us peace and have been disappointed on arrival. Maybe we once experienced true pollen but have wandered away into stifling and suffocating environments and are keen to come back to a place where freedom and fulfillment is readily available. Perhaps when all is said and done, you just know there’s an ache, an emptiness, a lack of peace that you’d desperately like filled. Wherever you may find yourself this Christmas, let’s pray to the Prince of Peace who is desperate to usher you into the fullness of peace He came to deliver.
Lord Jesus, in all its chaos and frenzied preparations, Christmas is often a time where peace feels a little elusive. Yet at the very centre of the story you came, to bring peace to all mankind. You know our need, our weaknesses, our propensity to look for peace in all the wrong places. Forgive us for thinking we can fill the gaps in our lives ourselves.
Jesus, would you come, with your gospel of peace, your good news for all of us, and fill our hearts with your peace. We invite you to take your rightful place as Lord and King of our hearts and lives as we acknowledge we’ve not been able to find that deep, perfect peace apart from You.
In those moments when peace feels far away, would you help us, like Isaiah wrote, to fix our thoughts on You so that we can encounter and know perfect peace. Would you help us to fasten ourselves to the truth that You came to save each and every one of us from our wayward paths and You did it by laying down your life in our place. Because of Your great love for us, You paved the way for us to go free, for us to have peace with the Father, peace with one another, and peace with ourselves.
Thank you that you are the Prince of Peace, and that you promised to leave us with your Spirit to guide us into all peace. Thank you that you have overcome all the troubles we will ever face in this world.
And we finish with a blessing from Romans 15, verse 13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace this Christmas and beyond as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In Jesus’ name, and for Your glory we pray,