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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hugger.  I love to give hugs. If you know me well and see me coming if you don’t want a hug you might want to run, because you’ll get one.  It’s almost second nature to me.  I love to receive them too. It puts a smile on my face. Many times, the person giving them doesn’t know I needed it at that time.

 

It was one of those days in which I was sat and looked out over a pond at a local park. Birds bobbed on the water, and a fountain bubbled, gurgled, and struggled to rise out of the water.  It was a particular hard day; the tears began welled up.

 

“Daddy, just once I would love to feel your arm around me like a father does his child.”

 

Later when I described my day to a friend they said “Have you ever felt a warm breeze on your face? Or sat and listened to the birds chirping away or smelled your favorite flower? Have you enjoyed fellowship with others?  These may seem like small things, but God’s hugs are in the small things, not always the big wonders.”

 

That reminded me of another park visit where I walked the boardwalk, worship music played in my ear. I climbed the tower sat down on the recycled bench pulled a pen and notebook out and closed my eyes. What happened next came as a surprise. A breeze picked up, birds chirped and the words which flowed in my ear became clearer. The world was disappeared around me like the movies when a character is deep in thought everything around them move in slow motion and blurry.

 

If anyone had come to the top of the tower, I wouldn’t have known it.  There was peace, joy and the presence of God was felt without a doubt.  I’ve learned to relish these times.

 

In another blog, I wrote that sometimes solitude moments with God are about being still and letting Him love on me.  It’s being and listening and feeling using the senses to experience God’s love and His creative side, by being in His creation.

 

Lately though I have left the music behind and have taken my little word processor to the park to observe God’s creativity.   Through it, I’ve seen illustrations of how to express myself to Him. He allows me to experience things that are new, like a huge duck flying not more than three feet away whose wings just made the loudest most awesome “whoosh” with every flap. It was incredible almost like a rhythm of a drum. The breeze rusted the leaves and ducks quacked and bird chirped even the annoying seagulls squawked musically.  I heard God’s orchestra play just for me.

 

Have you ever scheduled time to just be still at the park or at the beach in the evening to watch a sunset? I would encourage you to just take in nature and allow God to wrap His arms around you.

 

 

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty God shines forth.”

Psalm 50:1-2

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I wasted time a few weeks ago waiting for my daughter to finish work. Walking a few shops down, I found a wall hanging with this statement, “Until God opens the next door praise Him in the hallway.”  My first reaction was, “Yes, Lord I am in the hallway, but there aren’t any doors to open.”

 

I smiled to myself with tears rolling down my cheeks.

 

I’ve stepped out temporarily from ministry, which started a strong tug of war. The two sides pull hard with the intent of winning. On one end of the rope, confidence.  I have made a good decision to rest.  One the other end is busyness and the need to be back in the race.  As I talked to a friend about this struggle, he mentioned a devotional by L.B Cowman Streams in the Desert which gives a wonderful illustration of the periods of rests in our lives.  This is the author’s take on the period called rest:

 

 “There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music.  In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests.  During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song… He (God)* brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent.  We grieve that our part is missing in the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson.”  (Cowman pg.43,44)

 

Resting periods in my life (a masterpiece) is part of the grander piece. Sometimes these come as hardships, illness, struggles and trials or the everyday mundane.  These rests are times of silence and solitude in which He uses to grow me in my relationship with Him. God is the composer and conductor of my life and He creates rests for reasons.  Some reasons I see some I don’t, but all are for His glory and honor.

 

I love what Margaret Feinberg said in her book Fight Back with Joy, “Always be suspicious that God is up to something.” Even in the resting there is the hope that God is going to do something wonderful through it.

 

For me there are a couple of reasons for my rest: 1.  to grow closer to Him which in itself brings about rest  2.  To understand better who I am in Him, and how He sees me.  There is probably more to it, but that is what I’m observing now.  How cool is that?

 

Yes, I’m in a hallway right now that has no doors. I sit and wait in expectation when not only a door appears but opens and I walk through.  Praise God.

 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:10 (The Message)

 

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It’s been a long time since I have visited Solitude with the Father. Deep down I have longed to be here, but God has had different ideas. Which brings me to the word for my year; Hope.

 

In today’s world the word hope has strayed from its original meaning.  It’s usually associate with a “maybe” connotation.

 

The true meaning of hope is “expectation, expect with confidence.” As I have been studying this word, I found a hard saying by Paul in his letter to the Romans.

 

“…but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character and proven character, hope;” (Romans 5:3-4 NASB)

 

Here it comes.

 

“and hope does not disappoint…”

 

The first time I saw this I froze, tears welled up and a little anger welled up with the tears.  If hope (anticipation and expectation) doesn’t disappoint, then where was the transformation I prayed for last year?  Where is the totally changed person I expected?

 

The only transformation that came was a deep depression, where I would do anything to go to a far away place and be alone.

 

I was praying and in the Word daily, yet nothing changed except the dusk turned to darkness without even a flicker of one star. It was terrifying.  I have fought bouts of depression before, but nothing like this.

 

The last part of verse five says

 

“…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

How could this be because of God’s love? The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. “Christine, hope is expectation without your expectations to be fulfilled. Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open — not set and stubborn. Hope doesn’t disappoint because transformation springs from the love of God. In trials, hope is the expectation of how God is going to refine you.”

 

What I realized, God is going to transform, and grow me in any way He sees fit.  The depression was allowed, why? To show me, now is the time.  The time to take care of deep seated issues, fears, anxieties. I was going to need help with it.

 

It’s been a process.  And it isn’t over yet.  But one thing I do know, because I belong to God as His beloved child, I have hope that healing will come. Transformation will come. Experiencing God in ways I never thought possible will come. Experiencing stillness and knowing He is God will come.  I also know that it may not be in ways I think, but they will come.

 

It’s exciting and scary at the same time. With my eyes, ears and heart open to Him I wait in expectation with exuberant anticipation of what He will do. I have seen glimpses of Him through the dark. In fact, there are little holes He has punctured to let streams of light in.  He will continue to work through the trials to grow me.

 

That is the best kind of hope.

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So My ways higher than your ways. And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55: 8-9

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As much as I wish it wasn’t true, God never promised us a trouble free life. Due to the sin in the world, life can get messy.

So what do we do when life throws us challenges? James the half- brother of Jesus gives us an answer.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 (NTL)

OR

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” (MSG)

I have never thought of trials as gifts never mind joyful, until recently.

One day, in exasperation, I told my husband I can not continue to fight “fear”.

His response, “That’s why you need to memorize scripture.”

“I do. When I start feeling afraid I recite the verse sometimes two or three times and nothing happens.”

“You need to meditate on it.”

“That’s my issue. I’m not meditating on the Word.”

Little did I know the opportunity to learn about meditating was coming sooner than I thought.

Two weeks later I found myself in the ER with a wild heart rate. Scratching their heads, the nurses looked at my heart rate then the test results, “You’re staying over night.”

I felt fear creep in. Immediately a verse entered my mind and I prayed:

“Father You said in Your word do not be anxious for anything, well right now, I am anxious. You also said to bring prayers and petitions to You. Well I am. You know the answers. I need Your peace.” (Philippians 4:8)

The peace that came over me surprised me, it shouldn’t have but it did.

With several tests scheduled over the following weeks, the doctors released me the next day. During one of those tests, I panicked, on what I thought was a problem.

Once more, I turned to praying scripture.

Again peace came over me so much so, I could have fallen asleep on the examination bed.

How can we find in joy in trials? James puts it this way:

“For you know that when your faith is tested, you endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” vs 1:3-4 (NLT)

When, my faith is tested, I have the opportunity to grow.

How did I grow?

1. I learned what meditating on the Word meant, and how it worked in my life.
2. I also exercised more dependence on God.

Was it worth it? Yes. Would I go through it again? Yes, because I grew more mature. Will I fail again, of course, I’m human.

How about you? Are you going through a trial right now and wondering where the peace is? Ask God for scripture to meditate on, and what lessons He wants you learn.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. do not waiver…” James 1:5-6a (NLT)

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“Move in the back.” My ten year old’s voice was agitated.

“No it’s my turn in the front,” answered my niece with much determination.

“Then get out so I can get in the back.”

“No!”

Listening to the tension, heightened my aggravation already present from a day full of stress.  The muscles in my neck flexed, and my eyes narrowed.  “Why the pettiness?  Who cares who sits in the front?”   I said.

I turned to lock the front door as the words continued to come.  “Why did we fight over such stupid stuff?  Like who sat behind mom or who used the flowered fork for dinner.  Oh especially that fork.  No wonder my mom was annoyed with us.”

“Mommy, we don’t have a flowered fork,” chimed in my oldest and most observant eleven year old.

A big smile formed on my face. “I wasn’t talking about us, but your Aunt Stacey and me.  Growing up our family had one fork that had etched flowers on the handle.  I used it one night and your aunt had it the next.  But every night there was an argument on whose turn it was to have the fork, similar to the fight about who gets to sit in the front.”  Looking back, what a waste of time. What selfishness, arguing over an insignificant item that in the grand scheme of things didn’t really make a difference in our lives.  “I guess we thought it made us important or special.”  I decided.  My girls looked at me then continued on with their disagreement.  All I could do was shake my head.

As an adult I laugh, but ask the question that must be asked, “Have things really changed?” I get upset over the dishwasher loaded “wrong” or the Christmas tree not decorated “right”.  Do these things really matter? Will the dishwasher loaded neatly, influence godly character.  Will the Christmas tree decorated “right” bring others to know the Savior?

The problem is it doesn’t seem to stop with the dishwashers or decorations.  I have heard of churches bickering over the color of the rug or what version of the Bible to use or the type of music to use in the worship services.  Or others complaining about how another accomplishes his/her tasks in ministry.  Should our worship or fellowship really be based on these things?  How sad if it is.

Sometimes I think God cringes at the pettiness.  We are supposed to be family, and united on the basics: Who Christ is, what He did on the Cross, and the free gift of Salvation.  He cares more about His relationship with His children then what color the carpet is, or how special we think we are because we use a flowered fork.

The Father wants our hearts, and then desires us to extend love to others.  We are special because God made us and loves us.  When people see the disunity, then they see a lack of love.  We are called to oneness and to love others, no matter what.  We are to make compromises on the small stuff but stand firm in His word and to love the sinner.

I resolved not to make a big deal over the dishwasher, even the Christmas tree that had spots crowded with ornaments.  After all, the tree is about working together as a family and having fun, and as for the dishes, they are getting clean.

What about the girl’s fight?  Well, I made the suggestion that each time we go some where they take turns sitting in the front.  I haven’t heard the bickering about it since.

How about you?  Do you yourself being petty about the little things in life, or with certain people? Ask God to give you a spirit of peace and love.  If your irritation is concerning big issues or those that are clearly right or wrong, ask God to give you wisdom to work through them with love, patience and self control.

“Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible  so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Romans 12:16-18 (ESV)

 

 

 

*Due to being on vacation, I would like to share this  article I wrote in 2010.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:22 (NIV1984)

Over the past few weeks I have been “weary” and “burdened”.  It started with a visit to the ER and over night stay in the hospital, finding out that the chest pains I was having were panic attacks.  But then depression set it.  Unfortunately this had been going off and on for a few months.  I couldn’t get moving on the things I needed to do nor the things I had a passion for (hence the lack of entries).  There was also the lack of desire to socialize, paranoia about what others thought about comments I made when forcing conversations, and crying at the drop of a hat.  Even though it hurt, I knew God was with me and had a purpose for what I was going through.

I finally sought medical help and now I am starting to feel a little better.  Even cleaned my house and got the laundry done in two days.  Whoo-hoo!

There are times however, I am burdened and weary from something quite different. Sin.  I find myself doing some of the same “stupid” mistakes over and over again, like losing my temper.  I wonder when I am ever going to change.  I even ask God, “When is Jesus coming again? I’m tired of fighting the sin”.  It does get me down, and my Heavenly Father has to pick me up, brush me off, and wrap His arms of forgiveness around me.  Then, only if I allow Him, does He remove the feelings of guilt and replace it with peace restoring my joy.

Christmas is more than gifts, and family.  I am much less stressed when I remember the true reason for this holiday.

One starry night, two thousand years ago, God left all the riches in Heaven and became a little baby born in a barn. He was perfect in every sense of the word. He had ten fingers, ten toes, two sparkling eyes and little button nose.  What the world saw was just another baby.  What the parents saw was the Son of God they were to raise.  The only visitors he had were smelly shepherds who were told of his birth by angels and a few magi from the east a few years later.

He would prove that He was God’s Son, by healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  But His ultimate goal was to bring peace, comfort, and redemption to a sinful world that could not save its self.

This little baby was God in the flesh.  It tickles me when I see a baby around this time of year.  My imagination goes wild.  It’s amazing to me that my Savior was once a little one, who grew up and accepted the world for who they were no matter how bad or good they were.

That child brought hope, love and carried our burden to the cross because He loved each and every one of us.  He extends a gift to each person.  That gift is a relationship with Him and freedom from the guilt of our sin, and unconditional love and forgiveness.

If you have not accepted this free gift He extends to you.  Would you consider it?  I can’t promise He will take your problems away, relieve the depression or loss you may feel.  But what I can promise you is that He will be with you every step of the way.  He will give you the peace you may be seeking.

Take a few minutes and go to the tap “An Invitation” (at the top of the page) It will help you understand what is involved with accepting this gift.

From my family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

“For unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”   Isaiah 9:6 (NIV 1984)

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My stomach turned. I hadn’t seen the couple in three years and I certainly didn’t want to see them now. I was going only because my daughter was playing in the game. By the time I arrived at church, dropped my daughter off, and parked I was crying almost to the point of hyperventilating.

You see this couple was going to adopt my niece. My family thought it was great. They changed her name in the school she was attending and allowed her to call them mom and dad. However, without any warning, two years later, they called and said we can’t do this and we are sending her back to you.

We were shocked and angry. This little one had been through enough, her father died of an overdose and her mother (my sister) was in prison. My parents adopted her instead. For months my niece would say “I want to go home, mommy and daddy did this or that, or listen to the funny things my brothers did.” I would clench with anger. It took everything in me to say absolutely nothing.

Over the past three years when I heard their name anger flared. They come down twice a year and see her and I  stay as far away as possible. In Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness“ he points out even when people tell me that I have a right to be angry and not forgive, it’s not what God asks of me.

As I sat in the car I realized that my overwhelming emotion, was not just the fact that I had to see them, but that God wanted me to forgive, not just right there and then but to their faces.

“If this is what you want God, I can’t do it. There is no way,” I said out loud trying to take a breath, “But if it’s what you want, I will, but You will have to give me the strength to do it.”

After the game, with my parents by my side I said, “Over the past three years I have been so resentful towards you, not for myself or my parents but for my niece. I know this is where God wants her. But as a Christian forgiveness is not an option. So I want to tell you I forgive you. This is a hard thing for me to do but there it is.”

When I walked to my other daughter’s game the tears flowed. This time it came from the shock of what transpired and the sense of freedom I had.

I think one reason God asks us to forgive is not for the benefit of the one forgiveness is extended to, but it’s for the one who is offering the forgiveness. It’s the hardest response we can give to some one who has hurt us, but there is no greater peace felt when we do.

How about you? Is there someone that has hurt you or someone you love? Have you been carrying resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness?

Take it to God today. He will give you the strength to forgive them whether it is face to face, over the phone or, just in acknowledgement to God. It maybe a moment by moment or situation by situation thing. Resentment will rear its ugly head again. Remember you have forgiven them and immediately take it to God. He’ll take care of it.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV 1984)

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