Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Applying Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.”
Isaiah 26:3 ESV

My phone dinged with notice of a private facebook message.  A sweet friend had a question for me.  "How have you effectively applied the peace of God to your life?"   The question stopped me in my tracks and took my mind down memory lane as visions of the past four years began bombarding me.
Here is a portion of my response:

I guess for me, it all comes down to a choice. As a child of God, access to His perfect peace is constantly mine. It is my choice to rest in that peace or not.
It is easier to write the words, than to put them into practice.
My choice to sit still in the midst of chaotic suffering
and let His peace wash over me is one of acceptance and surrender.

I've had to accept that God is good. His ways are higher and His plans are better. His promises are of an eternal perspective. These facts do not change. My circumstances do not hold the power to alter the character of who God is. His goodness is not dependent on whether He answers my prayers the way I desire.

I have come to terms with pain and difficulty always being a part of this life. They have a purpose for being allowed to touch us. Nothing touches me that God hasn't first stood upon. He knows. He allows; partially because we live in a fallen world and partially because He wants to draw us closer to His side through the difficult times. It is during hardships that we have the ability to see His character, strength, peace, and majesty magnified.

The losses, the sufferings, the sorrows I have faced in this life leave me with a choice.  I can choose to surrender it all to the One who comforts, consoles, and loves. I can surrender the hurts and exchange them for His peace.

For me, being filled with His peace does not mean everything will work out while on this earth. It means, regardless of what occurs here, I have eternity with Him. That knowledge doesn't necessarily lessen the pain. My heart is literally broken. I've felt the physical breaking of it as well as the emotional. It stinks. I won't lie about that.
But what His peace does is stand beside my faith and fills in the cracks and gaps of my brokenness.
It reminds me that my life is only a vapor.
It assures me that eternity in the presence of God will be grander than my wildest imagination.
It sustains me when I cannot catch my breath.
So the application, in my opinion, comes in the CHOICE to accept and surrender. Through these deliberate actions, I am able to apply His peace to each area of my life.

His peace is where I choose to collapse when my parenting skills are lacking and I feel like a failure doing this solo. His Word tells me He is a father to the fatherless. I trust Him to help me parent these children He blessed us with.

His peace is what comforts me when I am lonely. Doing this life as a single wasn't my plan. I still want Tim by my side. But I trust that God goes ahead of me, walks beside me, and hems me in from behind. His peace gives me confidence to hold my head high and not be ashamed of my singleness nor be desperate for a mate. My worth and value are found in my relationship with Him.
His peace is where I surrender my financial fears. I work hard with the skill set He has given me and I try to be prudent in my spending habits. I trust that seeking His wisdom and the counsel of those He has placed around me will help me thrive with less.
The foot of the cross is where I exchange my frustrations for His peace.
It is a daily occurrence.

Lord, I lay it all down at the foot of the cross in exchange for Your peace that passes all understanding.  Give me the strength to leave it there, surrendered to You and not pick it back up again piece by piece.  And when I do start trying to carry the burdens of worry, fear, and frustration again, guide me back to You where You are always willing to take my burden in exchange for the gift of our perfect peace.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

God is Good

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
  Romans 8:28

Trusting in God's goodness, it's what I always seem to come back to when everything flips topsy-turvy and I find myself disoriented and unsure of things in this life.

Sometimes it is hard to see goodness around me in the midst of tragedy.
It is then that I must trust in the unchanging character of our God. 

He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-sufficient.  He is always good, even when all around me seems bad.

Even in death.

That’s not an easy thing to process when the life of a loved one ends, when pleas for healing seem to go unanswered.  But He is always good.  And you know what else?  He always heals His children.  ALWAYS!  The healing may not come on this earth, but our loved ones are healed in the presence of their Savior.  The trumpet will sound. The dead in Christ will rise. Every ailment will be no more. Every disease will be vanquished. And that my sisters, is a healing that can never be erased or marred by death again.
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:26

God doesn't need my life to go smoothly for His goodness to be true.  He is the very essence of good.  I can lean hard into Him during tragedy because He is faithful.  His goodness isn't defined by our standards and it isn't confined to this world.  Often, His goodness isn't even realized here.  We can't see the full extent of what He has planned for us.  Suffering and sorrow are part of life's journey.  They were unavoidable, even for Christ as he walked this earth.  God's plans are for eternity.  The fullness of His goodness will be revealed there.

God restores and He redeems.  He is in the work of making good from bad.
"The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His work."
Psalm 145:9 KJV

His focus is on the eternal.  Cling to His goodness.  When all in this life is ripped out from underneath you and you are free falling into a dark abyss, know that He is with you.  He never leaves us, He never forsakes us.  No matter how dismal this life gets…we win in the end.  Because, God is good!