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Flourish or Flounder

“I am excited to introduce the amazing guest writer who created this beautiful post to share with you all today. Amy Wallace is a traditionally published, award-winning author of five Christian fiction suspense books and now teaches English, novel, composition, and literature classes at two online academies. A homeschool mom of over twenty years, she has home schooled two children all the way to college and is presently still home schooling her youngest, a high school junior. Even more, she is a woman of great wisdom who has a gift for studying God’s Word and sharing His wisdom with everyone in her sphere of influence. It is my honor to be her daughter and to welcome her into the AU Women’s Ministry Blog family as a contributing author. Please enjoy her blog post on what it looks like to flourish as we enter another year and another semester.“ - Hannah Wallace, Blog Team Director

“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.“ Matthew 5:48 NLT

What comes to mind when you see the word perfect? Grades, behavior, expectations from others or yourself? What about the word peace? Rest, happiness, relaxing, vacation?

While these two words feel worlds apart in the images they conjure, in Scripture, these words are closer than we realize. Let me take a minute to paint a deeper picture with these words and then show why this matters for all of us as we step into a new year, into a new space that we can fill with regret and pain or moments of peace and purpose and joy.

The word we read as perfect in Matthew 5:48 carries the idea in Greek of completeness, maturity, a wholeness of character, of all parts being together and finished.

Perfect on this side of heaven is God, not us, but as the Holy Spirit shows us throughout Scripture, if we belong to Jesus, He is in us and with us and completing His work of making us whole and complete. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

The word Shalom in Hebrew is a word most often understood as peace, but unlike our word for peace, Shalom means so much more. This word in Hebrew carries the idea of harmony, wholeness, completeness, a sense of flourishing and coming together and fullness.

We spend so much time striving toward perfection and yet experience so little peace. As we head into a new year full of uncertainties, fears, hopes, and dreams, we need a firm foundation or else we will flounder, not flourish.

So how do we stop floundering in our pursuit of perfection and find that place of flourishing, of true Shalom?

We stop chasing human ideas and practices and wearing ourselves out to gain what will never satisfy. Flourishing is not found in perfect grades or behavior or even successful ministry. True Shalom, true flourishing and peace and wholeness, is only found in one way: laying down our pursuit of perfect and pursing the Perfect One who is everything we need and want, whether we feel like this is true or not.

Simple, not easy.

But Philippians 4:6-7 gives us a glimpse into the world of flourishing and wholeness and peace that is ours: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)

What is at the center of your life as you enter this new year and new semester? As with most of life, we have a choice: pursue perfection and fail or pursue the Perfect One and enjoy peace, wholeness, flourishing, Shalom.

Choose wisely.

May the God of Peace, our Shalom, be yours and fill you to all the fullness of Christ as you rest in His arms.

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