By Suzanne McMillan of East Sandwich, Massachusetts, USA

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

We had a tradition in our family. On New Year’s Day we would start a jigsaw puzzle. However, for the last couple of years, we hadn’t done one. But this year I thought it would be fun, so I bought a cheap puzzle.

That puzzle has frustrated us all. It’s not cut precisely. The pieces are thin and don’t fit well, even when you know they should. What used to be a source of enjoyment is increasingly a lesson in defeat. I keep wondering why I didn’t spend a little more to get a good-quality puzzle. It would have caused much less trouble.

I have been meditating on the path of our discipleship being one of learning and growth. I compared it to our family’s puzzle and wondered about the costs of discipleship. The more I “pay” in time, prayer, and study, the more truth I glean. I find that pieces somehow “fit right.”

The same is true of trees. When I take on the “cost” of digging the hole the right size, preparing the soil, and watering, the trees thrive. When we don’t pay the cost and plant haphazardly, the trees don’t do well. I guess it comes down to the axiom, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

Let’s be good stewards over our time and pay the cost for what matters most.

Prayer for Peace:

Generous God, may we be generous, too—with our time and our wealth. May we create traditions that strengthen what matters most. May we make time to share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice:

Pray with a partner if possible. The heart is a center of compassion and spiritual connection. Stand or sit across from your partner with hands open and palms up. Invite your partner to place his or her hands, palms down, on your hands. Close your eyes and be aware of the connection between your heart and your partner’s heart.

What needs, feelings, or longings do you sense? Invite God’s presence to flow into you and move from your heart to the heart of your partner. Feel or see God’s healing light and love flowing between your hearts. After a period of silent prayer, thank God and your partner. Say amen. (You also may pray this prayer by envisioning a particular person across from you.)

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will take the time and pay the cost to fit my life to you.

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