Where Do We Find Peace When Chaos Rules?

safe harbor

The news came across the waves of a Christian radio station a few days before our family vacation. Nine people were shot in a church.

In a place where people gather to find peace and comfort, the Enemy prowled like a lion and a hate crime was committed. And in the midst of packing to return home to this state, my mind raced with questions so deep it ached.

Why, God? How could this happen in a place where your children gather to worship?

A couple of weeks later, the same radio station shared information about a new drug which is becoming popular on the streets. Parents of a young teen who tried it were called with the report that their child was in a coma.

Chaos rages at home and overseas. Images of children being sold to a terrorist organization whose name gives me chills bombard social media. It is easy to feel weak and helpless. What can be done? What kind of world are my children going to be entering as adults?

Fear, in many ways, is like a virus. It starts out small and then spreads at increasing speed until it consumes every part of our body. It affects our sleep. Our thoughts are overcome by it.

If we aren’t careful, it can cripple us in ways we don’t foresee and may not even realize. I have been there. I have wanted to keep my child in a bubble, to stay in one place, to refuse to move. All my inertia was in the name of the toxin which afflicted me: fear.

And while I haven’t arrived to a place where I have all the answers or expect that I will, I know someone whose peace goes beyond the circumstances surrounding me.

When the chaos of the world overwhelms us, Jesus is our safe harbor.

He is the sure anchor for our souls, immovable by the changing tides of the world. (Hebrews 6:19)

In a world where people hate based on religion, color, geography and status, His love is not a respecter of persons. (Romans 2:11)

When the world which changes with the climate and the latest trends, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Where philosophy and intellect fail us, his love makes fools of the wise.

Despite my anxiousness and worry about the state of this world, I’ve seen God work miracles. In a city mourning the loss of brave souls, a community came together and stood firm despite tragedy. On a globe wrecked with terrorism and evil, men and women are banding together in an effort to provide refuge for the vulnerable.

If I don’t know anything else in this life I will stand on this promise: His love never fails. I cannot wrap the hurt and the heartache that consumes this fallen place in a bow and make it go away, but I know when my King comes again, he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Until then, I remember this place is not my home. And while I sojourn here and do my best with the precious gifts he’s given me, I hold on to the only thing which is constant.

His love.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

Out of the Holding Pattern and into His Grace

faith vs worry

As soon as he sat down in the car, I knew something was wrong.

His face was downcast and his step had lost its usual after-school skip. I thought maybe he’d gotten a red mark at school, an indication he’d played class clown one too many times.

I wasn’t expecting what came in the following minutes.

“How was your day?”

“Fine,” he said without further comment.

I wanted to push further but restrained myself. I tried to calm my three-year-old’s incessant repetition of “Mama.” Then, as I was turning down the road back toward our house, it started.

“Actually, Sam made me mad.”

He corrected himself.

“Well, Sam made me sad.”

Tears fell and he covered his face. I was glad I was driving with him in the back seat so when he looked up, he couldn’t see my expression.

I took a deep breath and asked probing questions. I learned Sam had told my son they were no longer friends.

My mind flashed like a negative reel to a time many years ago when I’d heard those same words. I told my son I was sure this boy didn’t mean it and silently prayed. I asked why his classmate would say this.

I fought my lioness urge to track down the school bus, find this kid, and demand an explanation.

Later, after my son calmed and we talked more about the situation, my wise husband reminded me that at the tender young age of six, everything is in absolutes.

That will never happen. We never do anything fun. You’re not my friend anymore.

The next day when my son stepped off the bus in a chipper mood, I realized my spouse was right. I was relieved, but wondered what would happen if the situation had turned out differently.

My mind went outside of God’s grace into the unknown, and questioned the tiny details of my son’s life.

What if this sort of thing continued? What if he isn’t making the right friends? Would his tender heart later lead to heartbreak?

The further I went down the trail of circumstances I couldn’t control, the more restless and anxious I became.

Several days later, I sat outside soaking sunlight when God hit me with the truth of these words:

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 NIV

How often to I say I believe God with my mouth and my words but my attitude says otherwise?

He says he knows the plans he has for my children, and they are plans for good. He says not a sparrow falls to the ground without his care.

Abram’s story goes on to show he not only said he believed God, but was obedient and acted on this faith. You see, friends, James cuts straight to the heart of the matter when he says, “Faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:25 NIV

Faith moves us forward in obedience. Worry keeps us in a holding pattern of regret.

Faith means doing what I can to raise boys who love, forgive, and give grace, and then trusting God to do what only he can.

I trust him to protect them and watch over them. To guide their steps when they’re out of my watchful care.

It means relinquishing control to the one who is in control, and believing he’s more than capable of taking the wheel.

So today, when my mind becomes restless with worry, I’m going to surrender those thoughts to him and actually do something. I’m going to pray.

I’m going to fill the endless wheel of anxious thoughts with a list of his promises. I’m going to trade relentless worry with unwavering faith.

 

*Photo credit (text added)

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

*Post written using this COMPEL tip: I turned off social media notifications and put my phone on Do Not Disturb.

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop and Other Lies

fear

I am learning to be brave.

Not in an obvious way like scaling mountains, speaking to thousands or entering a war zone. Perhaps those endeavors await me in the future.

But for now, I am learning to be brave in love.

I am saying, “yes” to risky, extravagant love and, “no” to the fear which gripped my heart for too long. The fear of being left behind. The fear that in the midst of the calm, there is a storm brewing.

When I was eighteen, the boy I envisioned spending the rest of my life with moved across the country. We exchanged a few letters in the following months, but I never saw him again.

Although I now know it was for the best, at the time I was heartbroken.

My life is sprinkled with similar stories of people I fiercely loved either leaving or getting so entangled in the mess of life, it was as though they’d left. Though physically present, their spirit was gone. I became a recluse, afraid that any relationship I formed with someone would turn into a good-bye.

Somewhere in all the coming and going, I projected this fear of being left onto a constant, never-changing God.

When I confess my wrongs, I wonder if my slate is really wiped clean. When life is going well and I’m counting my blessings, I wait for the shadow. The other shoe lingers in midair, and I just know it’s going to drop.

These are the lies that haunt me. My enemy comes to me in my dreams, turning them into nightmares of mistakes which can’t be forgiven, accidents which can’t be reversed, and farewells that come far too soon.

I’ve had enough of living in this perpetual state of what if.

I want to trade my clenched hands for audacious abandon.

When the voice of fear overwhelms my heart, my Creator’s voice must become louder.

As I dig into his Word, I see that the voice of fear does not come from him.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 NIV

And there you have it. I have not been made perfect in love.

Does this mean I am not in Christ, and his Spirit isn’t dwelling in me?

No, my friend. It simply means the process is not complete. His Spirit is still working in me, and will continue to do so until the day of Christ Jesus.

Friends, we will never be perfect on this side of eternity. But the more we drown our fears and what ifs with the unchanging truth of his Word, the more like Jesus we become.

When I apply the Word to my anxious heart, I see that I don’t have to be afraid. I know no matter what circumstances lie ahead, my God will never leave or forsake me.

He is not waiting, like some reckless dictator, to take away people I love or punish me for every ill, misguided thought. He loves me with a consuming love which goes far deeper than anything I can imagine.

But we cannot remove the fear and simply leave a vacuum. We must replace the lies with his truth.

Let’s delve deep and form roots that go beyond the changing tides of the world today.

Let’s drink from the Living Water which never runs dry.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.