Last week I was given a new definition of shalom, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Dr. Del Tackett was the guest speaker for Legacy’s Spiritual Emphasis week and on Thursday I attended chapel. Together we read from Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Dr. Tackett explained the word prosper (which we are tempted to think is many things it was never meant to be) is really shalom.
And what does it mean to shalom-prosper? Dr. Tackett said this: May you fulfill everything God has made you to be. This is shalom. This is what God was saying when he told his people through the prophet Jeremiah – my plan for you is hope and a future.
There’s another word, closely related to shalom, which Dr. Tackett described, too. The word is agape – we translate it love. But agape is MORE. He said it this way: agape is the sacrificial zeal that seeks the shalom of another.
I think about the shalom stories I’ve heard this week. A mother who prayed six years for the hearts of her husband and son, and a year ago this mom was diagnosed with cancer. Her illness brought faith back to her family. She wept as she told the story. She said it like a question. All it took was cancer? She’d do it all again, she said. And this is agape.
I have a friend who agape-loves her hurting daughter through long days and sleepless nights, sacrificial zeal seeking a hope and a future. May you fulfill everything God has made you to be. The ache in my friend’s heart pleads for this prospering shalom.
And then, of course, I think of adoption-shalom. How each adoptive family (four of our families in Colombia right now; one family back home; and the rest of us waiting) – how each of us who knows God knows he has plans for our kids. Plans to prosper and not harm, plans for hope and a future.
May you fulfill everything God has made you to be. I pray this for my sons, for Felipe and Jimmy. Everything God has made you to be – and I can hardly wait to see it unfold! With all my heart this mom’s agape love seeks this wonderful, healing, hope-filled, future-shaping shalom life. Life the way it was intended to be.