Monday, December 31, 2012


A line from the sermon yesterday has me thinking today:

"Don't let the events in your life define your purpose. Instead, let your God-given purpose define you and how you deal with the events that come your way."

2012 has had a host of terrible events that have impacted all of us...

Political animus poisoning TV, the Internet, blogs, and on and on
Financial crises striking at the core of our security as individuals and a country
Violent weather taking people's homes and lives
Countries pushing each other toward war
Insanity acted out in bombings and shootings
And on and on it goes.

With each new news report, our hearts are pierced. We wonder what has happened to this world, to our own country, to our friends and family that has left us all so...weary. Even hopeless. I have found myself lost in a sense of despair that mankind is hopelessly wicked, and that evil is running rampant as never before...

And yet.

And yet...

God. 

God is. God lives and breathes. God speaks and acts. And He is there, in every pain-filled event, speaking His truth, whispering his peace to our souls. And if I will but listen, my God-given purpose--which is the same as everyone's: to reflect Him in a wounded and weary world--grows stronger. Undergirds me. Brings me the peace that passes understanding so that rather than giving in to the sorrow and anger, I can lift my head and say with absolute conviction...

GOD IS.

He is peace and hope. He is restoration. He is the beginning and the end. He is...

Everything.

And while I cannot change the world, or bring mankind back to sanity, He can. All I need to do is follow Him, step-by-step, and leave the results to the Him. And so, each day, as I hear of new pain or anger or fears, I take them to Him. And I hold fast to the truth that He is at work in every event, every circumstance. And while I may not understand it all, I can rest in His promises and goodness.

And that is the best peace of all. 



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peaceful Words, part deux



As I said in my last post, I decided to spend some time searching Scripture to find verses about God's peace. As I did so, I was reminded, yet again, how much our Father loves us, because:

No storm we face is mightier than the God who sustains us.
"The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders The Lord thunders over the mighty sea. the voice of the LORD is powerful. The voice of the LORD is majestic....The LORD rules over the floodwaters...The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace." Psalm 29: 3-4, 10-11

Our holy Father tells us exactly what we need to do to know His peace.
"All who listen to [God's wisdom] will live in peace, untroubled by fear or alarm." Proverbs 1:33

God is there, now and always, no matter what we face.
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock." Isaiah 26: 3, 4

When the world is captured in chaos, God is there, with us, bringing us peace.
"Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home, they will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the LORD will greatly bless His people." Isaiah 32: 16-20.

No matter how bad things get, we are not alone. Our all-powerful God is with us.
"In the last days, the mountain of the LORD's house will be the hightest of all--the most important place on earth....There He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths....Everyone will live in peace...and there will be nothing to fear. The LORD of Heaven's armies has made this promise! Though the nations around us follow their idols, we will follow the LORD our God forever and ever."
Micah 4: 1, 4-5

And that's just a few selections from the Old Testament. Wait until you read the equally beautiful words from the New Testament!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Peaceful Words

I love being a writer. Love being immersed in the worlds inside my imagination. Love the way imagination can bring things to full-blown, four-color life.

Usually.

There are times, though, when an active imagination can work against you.
Ever since childhood, I've dealt with nightmares. Even have a few recurring ones that just won't leave me alone. These dark and dreadful dreams still invade my sleep on a far too regular basis, leaving me gasping for air, trembling from terror, unsure what's real and what isn't.

When I was in my teens, I jolted awake from an especially terrifying nightmare. Shaken to the core, I turned on my light and grabbed my Bible. I asked God to help me. To give me something that I could hold onto at night, when I went to sleep. And here's what met my eyes and heart when I opened my Bible:

"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety." 
Psalm 4:8

Oh, the power of those words that night. Reading them was like sinking into a cool, clear mountain stream after suffering from the blistering sun all day. I closed my eyes, and every remnant of the nightmare fell away. It gave me the same sensation I had when my dad put his arm around me, snuggling me close to his side. I was cherished. Protected.

                                                                    Safe.


To this day, Psalm 4:8 speaks peace to my heart and mind.

I first read it in a King James Bible. The New Living Translation says it like this: "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, will keep me safe."

The Good News Translations has a nice spin on it: "When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, keep me perfectly safe."

And then there's The Message: "At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for you, GOD, have put my life back together."

Whatever version I use, that verse carries me through many nights when my mind swirls with fear, when I know it's going to be a struggle to close my eyes and seek into a restful sleep. It comforts me when little else does. What amazing the power contained in words of truth!

As I pondered those words this morning, I decided to search out more of what God has to say to us about giving us His peace. But before I share what I discovered, I'm curious. Do YOU have specific verse that sustain you when you're afraid? Why not share it here so it can help others as well?

Peace to you today!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Peril of Peace



I was called a dear friend the other day, just to catch up, and in the course of our conversation I told her about my Peace Experiment and my blogs. She listened, gave me some great feedback, and then said something that I knew but hadn't thought about:

Dear Friend: "There's just one problem, though." 
Unthinking Me: "Oh? What's that?"
Dear Friend, beginning to chuckle: "When you pray for something like understanding peace, you paint a target on your back." Chuckles become full-blown, rueful laughter.
Unthinking Me: ....."Oh man....I'm an idiot."

We both laugh. And cackle. And scenarios of how I'll learn peace fly. Causing more laughter.

Though it may sound as though we were being irreverent, we really weren't. Ours was the shared laughter of people who've been down these paths before, of those who have suffered, endured by God's grace, and come to the realization that very little about life this side of eternity is without cost. 

A day later, I was on Skype with a potential agenting client, who is also becoming a friend. A young man who has lived an absolutely astounding life so far. And whom God is using in amazing ways to bless others. We got on the topic of peace, and his reaction when I told him what I was doing?

"Oh man. You're in for it now."

Cue almost identical conversation--and shared laughter--as with my friend the day before. Laughter that  is still there for me, making me smile even as I'm typing. Because they're right. 

Real peace, soul-deep peace...peace that carries you through storms and uncertainty...peace that wrestles fears to the ground...peace based in a sure knowledge of the One who gives it...the "yea-though-He-slay-me-I-will-follow-Him" kind of peace...

Comes at a cost.

No, it's not that God punishes us when we ask for something like this. It's simply that you cannot know or understand such peace without it--and you--being tested. And tested. And tried. And then tested again. 

Yeah. 

I'm an idiot. 

But you know what? That's okay. Because I really want to know. I want to know what it is to be at peace, to rest in the Father, no matter what comes my way. Yes, even as I type that I'm cringing. But fear doesn't change truth. I want to know God's peace. Even if it costs me. 

And isn't that what surrendering ourselves to Him is all about? We let go of our illusion of control (because, trust me, we are NEVER really in control), of our fears and uncertainties, stretch out our warms, and fall into the river of His perfect will. We ride the rapids with Him at our side. Yes, even  rapids like this:





And we'll do it in safety. With a Holy God telling us what to do, how to survive. And one day, one glorious day, we realize we're no long afraid. In fact, riding the rapids has become more adventure than peril. And living in His peace is more nature than struggle. 

I long for that day. 

No matter the cost to get there.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mining for Peace


I live in Southern Oregon, close to a community that has the distinction of being the first Gold-Rush town in Oregon. It's a lovely little community that is on the historical register. Yes, the whole town is on the register.

I've always been fascinated with the idea of the gold rush and of mining gold. No, I'm not a treasure hunter, but the idea of prospectors has always captured my imagination. I remember as a kid going to the nearby Applegate River (seen above) with my folks, and all of us trying our hand at panning for gold. We knew we wouldn't find anything, but it was great fun to try.

I understand now, though, that the realities of mining for gold are nothing like my childhood fun. It's hard work. Backbreaking work. Work that brings more heartache than joy. And, back in the day, it was as hazardous as it got. Even today, gold mining is a risky occupation. And, in many ways, as painstaking as it was back with the ol' '49ers.

I've been mining lately, too. And it's been hard work. Heart-breaking work. Work that has, at times, brought me more heartache than joy. But here's the difference between my mining work and that of gold miners: What I'm digging for isn't buried in stone--it's buried in words. In understanding. In the spirit.

In me.

Deep inside.

I'm mining for peace. Digging through Scripture. Chipping away at preconceived notions. Swirling knowledge and feelings together, peering close to find the sparkle that will make my heart beat faster. That shine of God's truth, oftentimes barely visible through the wash of circumstances and the pebbles of worries. Interesting thing is, the deeper I dig, the more I realize there's only one way to see past all that conceals God's peace.

Stillness.

As Scripture says it, "Be still and know."

Webster's defines stillness as:

  •  freedom from agitation; calmness, serenity
  •  absence of movement
  •  the quality or state of being soundless; quiet, silence
  •  patience; fortitude

As an off-the-scale extrovert, I'm not often still. Or calm. Or silent. So the idea of stillness is...hard. And yet, there is a place inside me that welcomes the idea. That longs to know this stillness, this serenity. And so that's my next step on this journey. To learn and embrace stillness. I can't do it on my own. But I can do it with God's help.

When the storm rages around me, I will ask for calm.
When the winds of fear batter me, I will seek God's help to stop striving. I will ask Him to show me how to rest in His promises.
When worry nibbles at the edges of my spirit, I will choose silence before my Father.
When it seems there are no answers to my questions, no supply for my need, I will ask for the fortitude to wait on my Lord.

May we all learn to be still...

And know.






Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Song of Peace




Grace, grace, God's grace 
Grace that is greater than all our sin. 

Remember that hymn? I remember singing it when I was young and discovering how much fun it was to sing and harmonize. The tune has stuck with me from those early years. (If you want to see all the lyrics, you can check it out here.)

There is such truth and power in music. My family has always been musical, so my whole life has been impacted and blessed by music. It's brought me joy and laughter, and a soul-deep awareness of power of concise, story-based lyrics. When I'm weary, music lifts me. When I'm happy, music energizes me. When I'm troubled, music soothes me. And when I'm afraid...

Music can bring me peace. In fact, as I've struggled to embrace peace--and as circumstances seem to join together in a concerted effort to keep me and peace apart--I've found myself reworking the lyrics of that old hymn just a bit...


Powerful peace of our loving Lord, 
Peace that the Master's love imparts!
Poured out so freely from heaven's door,
Overflowing our trembling hearts.
Peace, peace, God's peace...
Peace that stills my cries and tears.
Peace, peace, God's peace.
Peace that is greater than all my fears.

As you ponder God's peace in the midst of whatever fears you face, may He breathe a song deep into your heart.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There is Peace IN the Storm




"Where is peace in the storm?"


That was my cry to God. And in the silence after my outburst, it came. 

A story....


They'd come to the lakeshore, this group of men, following their teacher as he spoke and ministered to the crowds. All day he'd been there, teaching, healing. And when evening approached, he looked at them and said, "Let's cross over to the other side of the lake." So they got a boat, a stout vessel, and piled in. But no sooner were they surrounded by water than a storm came out of nowhere. It was as fierce as it was sudden, and before they could act, water surged around them, slamming the boat side to side, flowing over the edge. The men huddled together, and as they looked at each other, they knew... 
They were about to die. To drown in the angry, dark waters assaulting them.
They turned to their teacher, then stared, open-mouthed. He was asleep! With the rain pelting him, the storm tossing them like a dog with a ragdoll, he was lying there. Eyes closed. 
Sleeping.  
They cried out! "Wake up! Save us!" 
And when he opened his eyes, there was no fear there. No despair. Only confidence. And calm. 
He stood and did something none of them expected. He spoke. Three words:  
"Peace. Be still."

Peace. 

        Be still.

Three words that whispered through me as they whispered into that storm, and like the raging waves around that boat, my troubled, aching heart eased. Calmed. 

Three words. Spoken by the One who made the seas. Who made everything in them. Who made everything that lives and breathes, and everything that doesn't. Master Creator. Holy God. 

Where is peace in the storm? Right here. With us. Beside us. Within us. If we'll just open our hearts. If we'll just listen.


Peace. Be still. 

He spoke it then, and the storm ended. He speaks it now, and the storm is defeated. 

All we need to do is listen. For that Voice above all others. For that Voice speaks truth and blessing and safety and peace. 

That Voice calms the waters. For all of us.