The Prince of Peace

God is not real. The words echoed through my head. I say it again out loud: “God is not real." The uncertainty of my convictions bring fear. After 28 years of believing in God I was now questioning everything. What did I really believe? Does a world with no God make sense to me? Did a world with God make sense? I didn’t know, and that felt terrifying.

I grew up in a Christian home; it wasn’t a choice whether you believed in God or not, it just was. We were Christians. I'm not even sure why I never questioned this, especially in my adult life. Even my times of rebelling were never because I didn’t believe, but were more out of a fight against the chains that bound me. No matter how far away from God I got, he was always real to me; the world didn’t make sense without him.

So why now after 28 years was I questioning the very rock that I was built on?

Why as a wife, a mother, a so called “adult” was I all of a sudden so lost? What would I tell my children? How would I tell my family? I was embarrassed; I felt like a failure, a fraud; I felt unsettled. I kept this to myself only sharing with one close friend. I started to see the logistics of God as being impossible, foolish, smoke and mirrors, and a nice feeling for the weak. I started to despise hearing “God bless you” and “Ill pray for you” and the facade I saw so many people putting on. The arrogance in Jesus’s name, the ignorance, and the judgement.

Over the next couple weeks I stirred inside, I had this constant feeling of uneasiness. I started to have this pull on my heart to find answers to understand. I had gone 28 years believing in a religion that I knew nothing about. I had no idea where books were in the bible, I had no scripture memorized, I knew nothing about the history of passages. I did not have any desire for these things, I was the very thing I despised… ignorant. My religion was my one up on the world--how I made myself look and sound better. It had no substance, no foundation; I was all talk and no action. I was a fraud and a hypocrite. I realized that humanness was the very thing driving me away, not God himself--I knew nothing about God.

I gained this uncontrollable hunger to know more, to dig deep. This was going to be a defining moment in my life and I was going to give it all that I had. I read teachings on the bible, dug into Joyce Myers teachings and read her book.  The hunger grew and the need to understand became a fire in my soul. The more I uncovered, the more I needed to know. The bible actually started to make sense to me, it started to breath life in me, and I longed to read more.

Slowly my heart began to see Jesus. It began to understand all that I was missing before.

Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in him. But once we hear Jesus say, 'He who has seen me has seen the father' we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless. - Oswald Chambers

There is a song I love called "Call it Grace" by Unspoken. They sing: "Some may call it foolish and impossible, but for every heart it rescues it's a miracle." I can’t explain it, there are no words to describe the magnitude my heart felt but I was brought to my knees in awe of my maker.

“You are real,” I said. “You really are real."

Living in the light of grace, I actually could see Jesus. My world became so clear. I went from driving in a snow blizzard, my hands gripping the steering wheel in stress, not being able to see a foot in front of myself and fearing what was on the other side... To being able to see for miles and sit back and relax and know deep in my bones that all is well.

I started to want God's plan for my life, to trust him, to know that through anything he was constant and true. I no longer had a “I'll follow you God as long as…..” or “I trust you for this thing in my life but not this” and only pray when I needed something. My heart longed to be with God all day.  My soul was renewed and I felt awakened.

Four weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling very well and I was forced out of bed by an excruciating pain that had me rolling on the floor in agony. For two days after that I could hardly stand, eat, care for my kids, or function as a human being. My stubborn self finally went into the walk-in clinic where they told me to head straight to the ER. I had to call one of my very best friends and ask if I could drop my two boys off without any idea when we could pick them up.

We headed to the ER where I learned I had a 6 centimeter abscess in my stomach and no idea why it was there.  I would be admitted with no answers and no time frame as to when I could leave. I had never left my 13 month old before and had only left my 3 year old a handful of times (and only once overnight.) The fact that I had to sit tight and surrender to what was going on was so counter-intuitive for the girl who lived her life with a clenched fist of control around it.

I spent 5 days in that hospital bed, later finding out I had burst my appendix, and because I didn’t go to the hospital it created a pretty serious infection in my stomach. Over those 5 days God was a powerhouse of faithfulness. My friends became family, showing up for us and stepping up in any way they could--loving on my children, putting their own lives on hold for my families needs.

My mom dropped everything in her life and flew down to  hold up the fort and allow me to heal. Many people stopped and lifted me up in prayer, made meals and dropped them off. God was faithful--but not only that, but for the first time in my life I got to cast my fears on the Lord. I got to trust and have peace that this too shall pass, that no matter what the results everything was going to be ok.

There was a specific morning I hadn’t slept well, I kept hearing phantom cries from my kids and I just woke up feeling so defeated. I wanted to rip the IV out of my arm and run away. I thankfully had enough wisdom to put on a worship song and the words rang through my room: “There's a mountain here before me and I’m going to climb it with strength not my own, and he’s going to meet me where the mountain beats me, and carry me through, yes carry me through." I don’t know how long I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks frozen in a moment with my heavenly father. Giving all my mess to him, and finding gratefulness in my heart for the struggle. It's a moment I'll never forget.

I am freed of the tribulations of the world because I serve a God who has overcome the world. After returning home I became ill again, my kids got sick, my car broke down, my husband's business took some not so good turns, and I had to go back to the ER due to pain. This month hasn’t been easy but it has been full of peace and immense thankfulness. I have a savior I cannot live without; where the very fibers of my being lives to worship him, and a place where the longing has finally found its resting place.

In the front of my son's devotional it says, “To my mom a women who still to this day cries at how much God loves her." My prayer is that I would live my life so in love with Jesus that my children would long to feel the same.

This month we get to celebrate the birth of the king, the prince of peace, the good shepherd, our heavenly father.

I pray there is an awakening in your spirit and that your eyes would be opened to the magnitude of what this season means.

As I read a Christmas book with my three year old tonight beside the Christmas tree, I stopped on the last page with a swell in my throat, not allowing me to continue. A little bear looked up at her mama after going on an adventure where her mom showed her that God was everywhere. She said: “Thanks for showing me God, Mama." Her momma replied: “There isn’t anything I’d rather do, sweet child." My son looked up at my face “Mama why are you sad?” I said: “Oh baby I am not sad my heart is so full with thankfulness that God loves us so much that we can find him everywhere."

May our love for the lord overflow our bodies and may our children live everyday being loved from God through us. May God give us his eyes for the world that we can have compassion and empathy for even the darkest of people. That we would absorb instead of lash out so that we seek to understand, to give grace, to show Jesus.

Merry Christmas to you.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  - Romans 15:13

ChristmasKirista Berry