By Rachel Young

“The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you]; The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favor], and be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness]; The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval], and give you “shalom” [a tranquil heart and life].” Numbers 6:24-26 AMP

‘Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”’ John 21:17

This year has been a very special year for me. Not only did I turn 50, but this is also my 12th year of knowing and loving Jesus, my 11th year working at Mary’s Song, and my fourth year of marriage! Never in a million years would I ever have ever believed that any of this would be possible, but Jesus had other plans! He is a God of miracles and nothing is too hard for Him! Although He has far exceeded my every expectation, one thing I’ve learned through it all is that there is always more!

In seeking the Lord for my word for 2024, I clearly heard Him speak “shalom” to my heart so I began to study and delightfully discovered that shalom is much more than peace of mind or absence of conflict. As Cornelius Plantinga wrote, “Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom He delights.” It has also been said that, “Shalom in the Jewish sense is the symphony of life made meaningful through a right relationship with God.”

Wow! The “shalom life” is a symphonic, flourishing, whole, delightful, satisfied and fruitful life that inspires joyful wonder in God! The Lord went to great lengths to purchase this life for us, but it was never meant to end with us. As said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We have shalom with God because Jesus laid down His life for us in love. The consequence of that love is the laying down of our lives for others, hence, the second part of my word that God spoke to my heart while in prayer: “Feed My sheep.”

Ellicott said, “He who loves Christ is to be like Christ, a good shepherd, giving his life for the sheep who are Christ’s. He who has been loved and forgiven, held up that he might not fall, restored after he had fallen, is to be to others what Christ has been to him; and the power which fits him for this work is the burning love which quickens all other gifts and graces.” This burning love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit quickens and empowers us to live and love like Christ! This is the symphonic, flourishing, whole, delightful, satisfied and fruitful “shalom life” that inspires joyful wonder in God! As we experience it, it cannot help but flow out in love for others!

I pray as each of us enter into this new year we experience the fullness of the “shalom life” and allow it to overflow into the world around us! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” Lord, have Your way! Wooohoooo! Happy New Year!