Monday, August 11, 2014

Peace Like a River

Let go my soul and trust in Him.
The waves and wind still know His name.
So, let go my soul and trust in Him.
The waves and wind still know His name.

It is well with my soul.

Lots of contentiousness in this part of the neighborhood right now.  I'm not exactly sure where it's coming from.  Could be the super moon, that time of the summer (2 weeks from today school starts), just general stage of life of the girls, or even something more sinister; but there is a ton of snipping and backbiting.  Because I don't want to be constantly frustrated with 2 kids who are constantly frustrated, I called in the Big Gun.

I talked to my prayer group leader - my mentor and dearest heart friend - Janice (Heffer) Wright.  I asked for her prayers, but for her advice too.  It was good advice, reminding me how to help the girls learn to cope with their frustrations by sending them off, not in time out, but in the words of her great-granddaughter, "a little time to myself."

As I brought the idea up, I remembered we used to do this.  After Sophia was in treatment, she was dealing with a lot anger and we were seeing a therapist.  She suggested I put together some boxes with various activities and place them somewhere both girls could go, to just get away (separately from each other).  It really, really, really helped.  The girls remembered this too and were very gung-ho about putting this back into rotation.

We are calling this upgraded version - 3 years later - BYT with your BYB (By Yourself Time with your By Yourself Box.)  The girls already got their boxes together and placed them in quiet spots; although I dare say Ella will find them, so I'll be in charge of managing that source of frustration in the tiny package called Littlest Sister.

The sinister source is definitely some minion of the enemy trying to get under my skin - to disrupt the purpose and calling recently revealed to our family.  He's working overtime to push me, get me irritated and it's been working a little bit, I hate to say.  My kids fighting disturbs my peace, even though it rarely, if ever, has anything to do with me.  (Ms. Janice also reminded me of this).

After baths, just before bedtime, Natalie and I were talking and I said something I know had to come straight as a heavenly download.  I told her,

Peace is our natural state.  When we are bothered by something, it means we need to seek Our Heavenly Father, to spend time with Him and He will restore us back to the way we are meant to be - at peace in His Son.

Whoa.  That's seriously deep, so I know I didn't come up with it on my own.  That happens a lot when I'm trying to make sense of how to live this faith out - and then trying to explain it to my girls.  It usually has more meaning and major implications for me over them in the moment. (I'm sure there's something about not being able to teach/preach until you've lived it.....)

Jesus, rather famously, talked about the kind of peace He gives us, which the Apostle John recorded, found in 14:27,

I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. (NLT)

This seems and sounds so impossible. "Don't be troubled!"  "Don't be afraid!"  That's ludicrous!  In the eyes of the world, it truly is.  We spend all of our time chasing rest and peace, we've invented new ways to "get it" in all forms, though most are grounded in the physical, or emotional.  How many of us, especially in First World America, can say we really exist at peace? It's momentary and fleeting, the most sought after but the least achieved "state of being."

It wasn't until just a few moments ago I could even begin to imagine it was even possible to be permanently at peaceAnd yet, there Jesus is, telling me I can have peace, not just once, but all the time.  

Friends, peace is the gift of grace, given to us so freely, and also paid so dearly for.  It took Jesus' agonizing death to purchase it and His rising from the dead to prove it was available to any and all who will open their hands and take it from Him.  It's a spiritual thing - to abide, to relax and let Jesus handle it.  

We can't buy it, find it, feel it or experience it in any permanence outside of Christ.

Yet, what's hardest is living in (and with) the fact that our only work is this: to open our hearts, minds and hands to what the Lord, in Christ, offers.  That's what we have to do, daily/hourly/minute by minute if that is what it takes.  We have to be open to Him, for Him to work and wait to join Him in it.  

It is because of who is He that this is possible.  Peace can be had every.single.time. our feathers (or more) get ruffled; in any trial, tribulation or test.  Lysa TerKeurst calls feelings indicators and I think that's right.  How we feel about something (or someone) indicates how far from our normal/natural state of being as Christians, which is wholeness, of rest, or peace (shalom in Hebrew, a word that encompasses all those meaning and more).  

The enemy of our souls likes nothing better than to work us over, make us feel bad.  He LOVES strife, you could say chaos it is his bread and butter.

Yet, Jesus gave *me and you* peace as part of the down payment when we accepted Him as Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit exists in you as much as you are willing to let Him, to fill you with love, joy, peace (and the rest of the list from Galatians 5:22-23.  There's a song about it.)  It is now normal and natural for you to be at rest and at peace.

I know, it's a bit of stretch to think this way.  But faith in Christ is constantly stretching my thinking.  My identity is not in ME anymore - it hasn't been for over a decade.  My identity, no matter how I feel, exists in Christ - in my Father in Heaven and all He gives.  Do you believe that?  Is God what defines you or does something else?

Anything else will eventually leave you broken, not whole.  Anything else but Christ as your foundation will only lead to disruption, or worse, destruction.  There is no peace without surrendering each and every piece and part, as they surface, to Christ.  We have to let go and trust in Him.  

When we do - whatever is disrupting our peace - goes into His Hands (which are more than capable of handling it).  We get, in return, a fresh influx of peace, the gift that keeps on giving.  

Think of it this way: A spirit at rest in Christ stays at rest, no matter what seeks to disturb it.  (Amy's First Law of Spiritual Thermodynamics).

That's how Horatio Spafford could author such a timeless and poignant song - It is Well.  Did you know he wrote that following losing 4 daughters and his wife to a shipwreck, on their way to join him in the mission to colonize Israel at the turn of the 20th century?

Only a man who knew his true state, at peace in His Savior, could write like that.  

The next time, which could be the very next minute, something comes along to get under your skin, remember what Jesus has already given you - His peace.  It won't be like what you are used to, in this world.  The only hard work required is to lift all those burdens and set them down at the foot of the Cross.  

His peace passes understanding and is more than enough.  All you have to do is turn to Him and open your hands, to receive - again.

(For more information about the first part of the song, from Bethel Music, watch the video below.)

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