Written by Mike Verkaik
As the we began the Christmas celebration with the residents from the motel this year a north wind was ushering in the long forecasted blizzard of 2022. There was no more dreaming of a white Christmas, it was bearing down upon us.
As the winter storm brewed in the darkness outside the motel, spiritual battles were ongoing inside as bitterness, fractured relationships and fears were infiltrating minds keeping residents in the chaos and away from the bountiful feast prepared for them. The next minutes were filled with prayers, problem solving strategies and words of encouragement as I longed for each situation to be resolved resulting in residents attending. After many attempts some decided to come, while others had hurdles that were too high to cross over.
The bus and caravan of cars traveling to Haven’s Harbor room was slow and at times tense as the roads became snow covered and icy. Upon arriving we made our final push through the blowing and swirling snow in the darkness outside and entered into the bright and calmness of our meeting place.
I have entered the Harbor room at Haven many times, but this particular night it glimmered in a supernatural way. I believe it was the contrast between the spiritual darkness I had just left, and the hearing of children’s voices proclaiming “Glory to God in the Highest” as the program began. The evening started with a reenactment of the story of Jesus, our Prince of Peace, entering into the world and dwelling among us. As we watched and listened our good Father entered in, removed the turbulent storms blowing outside and provided His peace. As one of the volunteers texted after our night, “Wow! My heart is full. It was truly a night of God’s favor and presence.”
Matt*, one of the residents at the motel, told a volunteer, “Man, this place is really peaceful.” A testimony of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and in that place. What a privilege to bring the gift of His peace shown in our lives, and in the story of Jesus, our Messiah to residents that have walked away, or found no need for a relationship with God.
We gave the residents many other gifts our Father provided that night as well. Gifts of toiletries, snacks, cards and food – but the greatest gift we gave was an opportunity to experience the presence of the Prince of Peace.
Psalm 29 states:
Above the furious flood, the Enthroned One reigns, the King-God rules with eternity at His side. This is the One who gives His strength and might to His people. This is the Lord giving us His kiss of peace. Psalm 29:10-11
I found it interesting that the word flood in the Bible is always used in connection to man’s rebellion and turning away from God. We witness this flood at the motel on a daily occurrence as we also pray and long for residents to receive the free kiss of peace that awaits those who receive Jesus as their Rescuer and Savior.
Jesus’ coming was indeed to rescue us from our sin and restore our relationship to our Abba Father, but it is so much more. Jesus says in John 14:27:
I leave the gift of peace with you—My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but My perfect peace.
Oh how I desire to take and receive the gift of His peace along with my gift of salvation. In my own struggle to live with this promised peace I am often brought back to the song Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins. His lyrics state: Hold me Jesus, for I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been my King of glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace. God continues to use those words over and over again to teach me and remind me of the gift of His peace through my salvation.
May you experience the gift of peace this Christmas season, and may that inner peace shine Jesus’ bright light into your darkest night.
Matt* – name was changed