Cultivating Pathways of Shalom. If there’s a theme God’s been working on in my life the past few years, this is it. This phrase first came to me when I redesigned our front yard with neighbors in mind (Post coming soon). But as I’ve sat with this phrase it’s really blossomed in meaning for me.
Focusing originally outside myself, I was asking, “What does it mean to create new avenues for God’s shalom to flourish in the home, in the neighborhood, in various encounters and relationships along the way”. When I looked at my yard I realized there were all sorts of barriers to
So what does it mean to create new pathways for God’s shalom? It’s a good question and it’s been a fun and enlightening journey. Meandering this path, however, God began to reveal to me how many paths within myself are not really pathways of shalom. I needed to look inward. I needed to bring my attitudes, my assumptions, my “righteous indignation” before the Lord and listen to that still small voice of God.
God was beginning to reveal those places in my heart and mind which, quite contrary to what I voiced, were obstacles to the flowing of God’s shalom through me. Cultivating pathways of shalom requires internal change. The good news is that we don’t have to figure out all our internal issues before we embark on the external journey.
What are some typical internal barriers to shalom?
Fear: In many
Take time to honestly sit in God’s presence and ask, “What am I afraid of?” Invite the Holy Spirit to embrace you. Sense God’s love and protection. Imagine the Holy Spirit as God’s protection before and behind, above and below, to your right and to your left, and deep within. Whenever you sense fear beginning to take hold, bring this image of God’s surrounding presence to mind.
Unforgiveness: This bitter root often grows up right in the middle of the pathways we travel, tripping us up again and again. Unforgiveness can be a tough one for some of us. It can be difficult because we know exactly where unforgiveness is lodged in our lives, and we’re still so angry that we do not want to let it go. But it can also be difficult because we see ourselves as forgiving and accepting but at the same time have buried some past hurt deep inside where it festers, only to erupt at very surprising and unexpected times.
Take time to sit with God and ask, “Where is there unforgiveness in my heart?” Invite the Holy Spirit to revisit with you those times of broken trust, hate-filled words, and disagreements and to bring healing. As you pray, imagine Christ standing between you and the one(s) you have not forgiven, inviting you to join hands with them and to begin to walk together down a new road paved with shalom.
Prejudice, racism, and other forms of us vs. them thinking: I like to think of myself as a pretty open and accepting person. But when I really think about my actions and reactions I have to admit that I struggle in certain areas. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about this. What we need to do is
Here’s the challenging point for most of us. I think the majority of us are really accepting in some areas. This can make us feel proud, or at least self-satisfied, in our openness. Perhaps I’m very accepting of different races and cultures and, since that’s such a hot topic, I feel pretty good about myself. But then maybe when a woman gets up to teach I stop listening, thinking her ideas have less merit than a man’s. I may even not realize I’m doing it! I doubt there’s a person alive that doesn’t have some area of prejudice lurking within their thinking and actions. God would like to bring shalom into these areas and heal us.
We all need to sit before God and listen, asking, “Lord, reveal to me the areas in my life that betray attitudes that separate me from those around me. Show me how shalom remains not fully formed because I have counted others as somehow less deserving, less able, less capable.” Invite the Holy Spirit to tear down the dividing walls within your heart and mind and to nurture love that transcends those things that separate you from others.
Self-doubt and self-hate: Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. I’ve often been somewhat puzzled by
If my attitude is that God can love you but certainly not me, then my natural expression of that is to not fully enter into
Take time to sit with God and listen. Ask God to reveal those areas of brokenness and doubt that make you feel unworthy or unacceptable. Invite the Holy Spirit to touch each of these places and bring healing and wholeness.
The Radical shalom of God is intentional. We see this play out throughout God’s story as we read scripture. God has a plan and unfolds that plan with deliberate precision. Then God calls us to walk into that shalom, to integrate it into our lives and to bring it with us into the world. It is now up to us to be intentional about this mission. Shalom is both an inward and an outward journey. Sometimes we travel these pathways of shalom internally,
Next Thursday I’ll explore the external journey of cultivating pathways of shalom. I hope you’ll join me!
This post was originally featured on Godspace, at that time the blog for Mustard Seed Associates where Andy worked for nine years. Be sure to check out Christine Sine's Godspacelight blog featuring more of Andy's writings as well as writers from around the world exploring many aspects of Christian spirituality.