You may have noticed that I close all of my communications with the word Shalom. It is easily my favorite word in Hebrew. Shalom is a complicated and often misunderstood word. It means a great deal to me personally.
Common usages of the word Shalom
Many use shalom as a greeting or closing, like aloha is used in Hawaii. It carries a connotation of calmness and friendship. It’s a good word for that purpose.
Many understand the word to mean peace. It can mean anything from world peace to tranquility. Great thoughts, but this is not the meaning of the word shalom.
Oneness or wholeness
Shalom means oneness or wholeness with God. This is basic to being a Christian. When we are one with God (the Holy Trinity), we have turned our lives over to Him. It means that we accept that He is in control of all things, that He provides for our needs and that He has a plan for our lives. It also means that our future is assured and that we need not worry about what happens in this world.
A state of being
When used in this way, shalom is a state of being. It not only describes, but defines our lives. It’s not just a concept, but is tangible, visible. We feel it, live it. Others can see it in how we live our daily lives. This state of being literally carries an aura that transfers to others.
Benefits of being in a state of shalom
When living a state of shalom, life changes dramatically. Real, tangible and visible benefits include freedom from worry, happiness and more importantly, joy! We can ive our lives in communion with others and we become a positive influence in the world. Isn’t this what a Christian is supposed to be?
Sounds utopian, doesn’t it?
Living in a state of shalom doesn’t mean we can ignore the demands of life. We still have to face all of the trials of the world from paying the bills to facing the evil that exists. For the negatives of life we approach them in a very different manner, with a very different attitude. We still work, plan, prepare. But we don’t have to worry ourselves silly over them. God’s in control, He provides. Knowing the “end game” allows us to deal with the negatives without having them drag us down into the abyss.
When we live in a state of shalom we can truly experience the beauty of life and of God’s creation. The fog of negativity is lifted. We can more easily see the rainbows, smell the roses.
A personal example
For many years I’ve had kidney disease. In August of 2012 my kidney function deteriorated to the point where I am facing death. Life changes when one is faced with the reality of their own pending mortality. It can be a tough pill to swallow! Fortunately, medicine has advanced to the point where I’m still around. Every night I am hooked up to a dialysis machine and I take enough pills every day to make a meal. I also have the hope of a kidney transplant. Bottom line, my life, everything from schedule to diet has changed very dramatically. But life does go on and overall mine is extremely positive!
While both my earthly present and future look bright, the simple truth is…my biological systems could fail and I could die at any moment. That’s not a fatalistic statement, just reality. So, I prepare. I’ve done the will and estate planning. I’ve strengthened my interactions with family and friends. I’ve truly forgiven those who have “trespassed against me.” And I’ve strengthened my relationship with God! Does that sound negative? It’s not. It’s just being realistic.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m in no hurry to die. Quite the opposite. I hope to be around for a long time. I have things to do, like seeing my granddaughters grow up, sharing in their lives. And I know that God still has a plan for me and my life, work for me to do to bring the Kingdom to earth.
So, I prepare and I go on.
Living in a state of Shalom makes life, even in the face of death, pretty darned good! I highly recommend it.
Shalom, Art Alive in The Word
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