Shalom! A Reflection
Welcome . . . As I share reflections and thoughts that have been meaningful in my life, you are invited to ponder and reflect with me. As I thought about the reason for my writing, I jotted some lines of introduction—about how I view the topics of these early posts.
I Need to See the Big Picture.
I love maps. I like first to see the continent, the country, the province, the state. Then the road details, the relationship of cities and towns to the whole and to each other have a setting. I find it also interesting to understand the topography of the various regions in relation to the larger geography. I make more meaning of the lesser segments as I relate to the larger.
Several of my blog posts are my attempt at processing what I understand as ‘the big’ picture. As I relate to daily life in our uncertain and tumultuous times, I need to anchor and nurture my faith in the Creator-Sustainer-Redeemer. We learn of Him through nature, as well as from the incredible mosaic that takes shape as we contemplate the holy Scriptures. Other writers inspired out of this sacred source also help me as I process the ‘big’ in relation to my everyday navigation. So, in these next posts I share reflections of what helps me anchor to a much larger picture as I strive to make meaning in my day-to-day, hour-to-hour life trek.
Wellness and Master Design
I am fascinated, I actually stay quite fascinated, to ponder wellness and the underlying concept of well-being—its beauty, its strength, its wholesomeness – all that is included in the very idea. I am the more fascinated when I consider it in relation to where it came from. I am captivated with its design.
A net search using the word ‘wellness’—wow! a few people are into that these days, aren’t they? One of the mega interests of our times! And, it is not only interesting with its many angles, but it is an engaging and worthwhile pursuit. Most of us life-loving folks desire to trek our journey with enjoyment; health of mind, of body, and yes, peace and wholeness of inner life.
Shalom—Hmmm . . . What a Design!
As I ponder I find it incredible to consider that, while endowed with creativity, none of our human family can produce even a single cell of life out of nothing. Not even a tiny inanimate pebble. But a morning look out the window—the earth, the rising sun, life on this planet, hmmm . . . design, incredible! A new-born baby! All from the hand of the Master Designer! And I’m quite taken with continued musings on this creative Designer—with what he created and with what He intended for His creation.
Life as the Designer intended it. As I have studied, I find His design expressed in a Hebrew word—shalom. What a word! What a life design! All from the Master Designer!
From my Christian orientation, I look in the early pages of the Scriptures and find an enchanting glimpse into the incredibly abundant life that emerged from the Creator’s hand. That was the life in primordial Eden—the Eden before rebellion, before the created ones gave their Creator the shove.
One writer spoke of the first man and woman walking in the cool of the evening breeze with their Creator. This imagery represents life filled with well-being and wholeness. An experience of grandest fulfillment — communion unexcelled, harmony rich and deep – peace, purity, plenty. All was well!
Shalom – so let’s unpack this word a bit more. ‘Peace’—that’s the English word we often associate with shalom. It is that—and more. In fact, the word is loaded! Yes, peace as tranquility, the absence of conflict, settled calm. But life in pre-fall Eden depicts life as the Creator designed it—life overflowing with meaning, with significance, with provision. Vibrant life, abundant life!
As I researched this word, I found it carrying all of these ideas—and more: “wholeness, perfection, togetherness, integration, harmonization.” Another scholar wrote that “the general meaning behind the root s-l-m is of completion and fulfillment—of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship.” Still another offers more insight, “. . . šālôm. It is not simply a negative concept—the absence of conflict. It conveys the positive notion of wholeness, health, and well-being. Completeness is at the heart of the meaning of šālôm —‘peace.’ Debts that are paid are šālôm; vows that are fulfilled are šālôm. Conflicts that are resolved result in šālôm.”
Peace is Everything
I served several years as a missionary in Africa. While there I was struck with the concept of ‘peace’ in numerous African cultures. I began to research and contemplate. Spurred on by David Maranz’s Peace Is Everything regarding the life quest for peace in cultures in western Africa’s Senegambia region, I read more. As I explored the quest of millions of Africans for peace, harmony, and wholeness, I was fascinated with how their traditional thinking, with some rather intricate lines of thought, in numerous ways paralleled the heart-reach for peace, for shalom, as expressed in ancient Israel. Then I pondered; a realization emerged, that at its core, this is the longing of most, if not all peoples of the world!
In his discussion of “the spiritual dimension of Shalom,” an African author, Adamo, asserts that this peace “includes what Yahweh is Himself, His salvation, His covenant blessings and everything that Yahweh gives, including prosperity.” The emphasis here is that Yahweh is peace himself; He is Shalom! (cf. Isa. 5:8; Ps. 38:3; 4:8). Gideon, the God-called statesman warrior, named his altar Yahweh Shalom (“Yahweh is Peace”). In Ezekiel 34:25 and 37:26 God speaks of making a “covenant of peace” (berith Shalom) with his people. Isaiah 48:18: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (NIV).
Shalom is life, life dripping with richness – as designed by the Creator.
Holy Scripture sets forth the account of what shattered the Creator-designed shalom of Eden. An incredible endowment was granted the human family—freedom of moral choice. As a component of humanity’s creation in the Maker’s image, this entrustment was granted for the human family’s enhancement, for moving forward with wise, wholesome choices—for the ever continuing enjoyment of His shalom.
Life could be aligned to the Sovereign’s plan, to His word—or, yes—choice was real! —the created ones could opt for a plan other than the Designer’s. The story is history. Temptation, seduction by the designer of rebellion induced their wrong choice—colossal! The seducer made it seem simple and innocent. The sabotager’s question in Eden echoes daily down the ages of human history: Did God say that? Then came the deceiver’s sly discourse, with its invitation: Check it out! You’ll climb to a grand new experience! The import of his speech: Go ahead—do it! I mean did God mean—did He really mean–what He said? Then came human rationalization: ‘Hmmm . . . we can do this; no need for the word of the Sovereign. Grown-ups. We’re quite OK. Can manage life very well on our own.’
In retrospect, what do we say about the story in Genesis 3? The tempter’s purpose—achieved! History was forever changed. The Fall brought brokenness—loss of communion, loss of pristine, primitive holiness. Distorted relationships—with the Creator, with one another, with one’s own person, and with the earth, the land. In the words of Martin Luther, self was now ‘curved in upon itself’. Cataclysmic – the moral/spiritual Fall! Depravity. Self-destruction.
By now history is a pile of episodes. Over and over we, the created ones, turn ‘everyone to his own way’ (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:10-12). We, the human family, cannot seem to get it—to get it right. Yet, history’s message is clear; ‘off the rails, we bog down in defeat and self-destruction.’ And deep down, we are conscious that so much in this life is so far less than what it should be. There’s got to be more, there’s got to be life as it should be.
The Vibrant Life
And there is! The Creator is at work—and there’s more to come. Connecting to the big picture keeps me anchored in the present and anticipating the ‘something more’ that the Designer will unveil. A mega redemptive plan is in motion – for our human family and for the cosmos. In the next posts I invite you to contemplate what the shattering of shalom meant for the holy Creator, and also for the human family once barred from Eden. Then we’ll consider the invitation of the holy Father for each of us to partake in a cause that’s incredibly bigger than we are!—His Kingdom, now in process of coming—and in His time to be consummated. Then the Sovereign will reign, once again unrivaled by evil, over a renewed creation (see Rom. 8:22-23).
I will blog more. For now I offer these concluding thoughts. Through the Creator’s redemptive grace, we in the present may experience and enjoy the beginnings of His shalom plan, the ‘already’ of what His Messiah has provided to this stage; and with the romance of His light in the eyes of our inmost being, we anticipate where our Master is going when the age of shalom is in completed fullness! His shalom is awesomely more incredible than any we could even dream of achieving.
When our lives and those in our families, our communities are moving in alignment with our Maker, something is happening! His Kingdom is coming! His will is shaping—in and through us—and out into His world. The One who created it all, and created us all, truly does know best how it all moves forward in harmony, balance, and peace. When we are aligned to our Creator and His designs, we know it. Shalom—we sense it, we feel it at the core of life, deep within us. When it’s present, it’s vibrant!
It’s novel to work with the Master Designer on His dynamic plan! Since from that Designer I have the privilege of choice, I choose shalom! Onward – in this continued adventure!
Master, Your Kingdom come!
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 Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 275.
 R. Laird Harris, ed., Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), entry 2401 “salem, salom”.
 William M. Greathouse with George Lyons, New Beacon Bible Commentary: Romans 1-8: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2008), 153.
 Adamo, The Bible in African Christianity, 101. I am indebted for the thoughts of this paragraph to this author.
 Judges 6:24. Noted ibid., 101.
 Genesis 3
 For a treatment of the Fall regarding these relationships, see H. Ray Dunning, Grace, Faith and Holiness: A Wesleyan Systematic Theology (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1988), esp. chapters 9 & 15.
 For one source citing this expression, see Michael Lodahl, The Story of God: Wesleyan Theology and Biblical Narrative (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1994), 83.