Desperate for Peace: His Name is Peace

Jehovah shalom

Are you as desperate as I am for peace?

Do you long for even ten minutes where you don’t feel anxious, or out of control, or incompetent or “less-than”?

There was a time in my life when I thought that I could handle anything tossed my way.  

I had no reason to suspect my energy, my strength or my mental capacity to handle change would be exhausted.  So far, I’d managed to do all that was required of me, had managed to cope with every challenging situation, had overcome the hurdles, continued the race and not given up.

That’s not me anymore.

I’m not defeatedyet-but I recognize defeat is a possibility.

I cannot bring peace to my own heart in my own strength. 

But I know Who can:  His Name is Peace

 

 

 

 

Speak Your Peace-You May Not Get Another Chance

Just a couple of days before Dominic left us, I and another one of my kids had a fuss.

He was frustrated and stressed and I was vulnerable and stressed and a few stray words ended up hurting my feelings.

I said, “I can’t talk anymore now”,  and hung up the phone in tears.

He was sorry and I was sorry and we immediately exchanged texts and let the feelings cool so we could resume our conversation the next day.

He sent me flowers.

flower-arrangement

They were still beautiful when he came home to bury his brother.

Our family observes a rule:  Don’t part in the heat of anger.

We may not be over our pain and the reason for the dispute may be legitimate, but NOTHING trumps relationship.

I am so very thankful for that rule.  Because one burden I don’t have to carry is that I might have left Dominic wondering if everything was OK between us.

It was.

So I say to you:

  • Speak your peace.
  • Say you’re sorry.
  • Move TOWARD the people you love and not away from them.

I pray every time I hear a siren that the person they are going to rescue will be alright.  I pray that the family that loves that person will get another chance.  I pray that the call that’s made is, “Come to the hospital to see me” and not “Come to the morgue”.

But you never know-you have NO guarantee that the last time you see or speak to someone you care about won’t be the LAST time.

And then you cannot undo the horror of regret that they might have left this world wondering if you loved them.

“I love you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want to stay angry with you.  Please forgive me.”

Say it loud, say it often, say it NOW.

 

 

 

Homesick

desire-for-another-world-c-s-lewis

Forty years!  

Forty years Israel wandered in the desert, unable to claim the promise given them through Moses.

Forty years forbidden to set foot across the Jordan and partake of the bounty that lay on the other side.

Forty years of death as the rebellious ones were laid to rest because of their rebellion.

I bet they got tired of traveling.  I bet they were weary of moving on.  I bet they wondered (even though they had sure knowledge) just when this would be over.

And all that time, even in the midst of their heartsick longing to go back, have a do-over, make it right and the heavy weight of knowing, knowing, knowing there would be no going back, the LORD was in their midst-a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night-He was there.

I understand completely.  

Sundown yesterday began the  Feast of Tabernacles for Jews around the world.  It’s a seven day period to celebrate God’s faithfulness in the wilderness and to remember that this world is not our home.

Feast of Tabernacles Transp.png

I think it is a beautiful tradition and a wonderful way to speak truth to our hearts.

Because it’s easy to forget.  

Unless something happens that sharpens the homesick longing that lies latent in all our hearts, it’s easy to get comfortable here. Life seems pretty good-we gather our people and our stuff around us and think, “I could stay here forever.”

But no one stays here forever. 

This world is not my home.  

It never has been.

And I am tired of traveling.  I am tired of moving on.  I wonder just when this is going to be over.

But even here, God is in the midst of it.  

Emmanuel-God With Us-is near.

Jehovah-Shalom-The LORD My Peace-is speaking peace that passes understanding to my weary spirit.

I was created for a place where love and light reign and sickness and death cannot enter.

I feel it every day.  

“I began to try to define the pain I felt. Yes, it was sorrow, but it was something more, something infinitely deeper. I felt it all the time, even when I was happy. It wasn’t just sorrow. It was a longing; a pining for a better place and time … no, not just a better place and time, a perfect place and time; a different reality. It felt like longing for home, but not for a home I had ever been to. I began to see that it was something like homesickness …. Perhaps Christians are the most consistently homesick people in the world because they know this world (as it is) isn’t their true home. Yes, I was home, but I was still homesick.”
~Elyse Fitzpatrick, Home

 

Blessed Assurance

One of the ongoing challenges in my grief journey is fighting back fear.

Fear of what COULD happen, now that I know by experience what it feels like when it does.

So I try to remind myself on a regular basis that my life and the lives of those I love have never been in my own hands

Who’s Holding on to Whom?

Prayers I Still Pray

Prayer has been difficult for me since burying a child-I’ve written about that struggle in a previous post.

I have yet to find a comprehensible way to think about both the sovereignty of God and His goodness, free will and predestination.

So I find myself incapable of praying for things like safety for my children, freedom from disease or specific outcomes in difficult circumstances.

Instead I pray the prayers of Paul, straight from Scripture-prayers that focus on expanding a person’s understanding of Who God is, how much he or she is loved by God and the development of godly fruit in his or her life.

THESE are prayers I can still pray, I hope they are helpful for others in similar circumstances.

Ephesians 1:17-23

Glorious Father, I thank you for_______, and I bless them. I ask You to give _____the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that ______may know You better.  Enlighten the eyes of ______’s heart, so that they may know

  • the hope to which You have called them,
  • the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints,
  • And Your incomparably great power for them because they believe, the power of the resurrection and the ascension which seated Jesus at Your right hand where He is above all rule and authority, and power and dominion in this world, and all things are under His feet.

Fill ____with all the fullness of Jesus in every way today.

ephesians 1_17

Ephesians 3:15-20

I call You Father, and I pray

  • that from Your glorious riches You will strengthen______with power through Your Spirit in their inner being,
  • that Christ may dwell in ______’s heart through faith,
  • that ____will be rooted and established in love,
  • that____may have power, with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
  • that ____will know this love that surpasses knowledge,
  • that___will be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

I give You all the glory, for You are able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to Your power that is working within us.

ephesian320

 

 

Retreat

As a kid our family made a yearly pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast-back when the beaches were wide open vistas, the water see-through green and the days long and unhurried.

We didn’t spend money on the “attractions” or tourist trap souvenir shops-we got up early to watch the sun rise and spent the remainder of the day back and forth between the beach and the water.

I loved to find a spot that was about waist deep and feel the waves move across my body-up and down, up and down-floating in rhythm to the world’s heartbeat.

But every so often a wave would surprise me, crash over my head unannounced and break the cycle of gentle rocking with a sputter-inducing plunge beneath the salty sea.

As long as the giant waves were few and far between, I could recover, regather my sense of well-being and continue to enjoy the water.

But when the first wave marked a change in the tide or an incoming storm and was followed by more and more of the same, I knew it was time to move toward shore.

I could withstand one or two of these but if there was no chance to catch my breath in between I was going under.

This past week has been a deluge of waves.

Waves of grief,

waves of regret,

waves of disappointment,

waves of discouagement.

No storm clouds on the horizon.  No major life events or grief anniversaries-just a turning of the tide.

And so I find myself retreating a bit.

Backtracking from progress I thought I had made. Retracing steps and repeating cycles I though I had left behind.

I suspect that most of us have weeks like this.

You don’t have to bury a child to beg Jesus to make things whole again-to bring hope to your heart again-to ask Him to calm the storm and save you from destruction.

Ebb and flow.  Waves and calm.  Storms and sunshine.  Life is made up of all of these.

I am confident that Jesus is the Peace-speaker.  He can calm the wind and the waves.

I want to have faith.  I want to learn to call out in trust and not doubt.

I’m working on that and waiting for His Spirit to work on it in me.

But as I wait, I’m going to have to sit on shore for awhile.

 

 

 

Signs

 

When my kids went anywhere, I would always ask them to send a text just to let me know they had safely arrived at their destination.  They honored that request (most of the time!) and it eased my mind.

My mama heart wanted to know they were OK.

My living children still send me texts when traveling.  It’s an easy way to relieve anxious thoughts and I appreciate it.

But my son, who has made the last great journey, is silent.

And that’s exactly what I expected.

I think Dominic is so enthralled with the beauty of Heaven, with the communion of saints gone before and with the fullness of joy at the right hand of his Savior that he does not look with longing at the life he left.

He is in possession of the promise.  He knows fully, even as he is fully known.

At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!

I Corinthians 13:12 PHILLIPS

He has the ultimate assurance that God is faithful and that His lovingkindness endures forever.  Dominic (if he even thinks of it at all) has no concern that the same Savior who rescued him won’t also rescue me.

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.”

~Jesus ( John 14:1-4 PHILLIPS)

My faith has been tested in ways I never thought it would be.  And it has been, and continues to be, HARD. 

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]

Hebrews 11:1 AM

The same God who made a donkey speak and sent ravens to feed Elijah can use the birds of the air and the beasts of the field to encourage me.

And He does- I have found a dozen perfect bird’s nests since Dominic left us.  I believe they are signs from my Savior, not my son-tokens of hope sent to bless my broken heart from the Father who loves me.

God still speaks-He makes Himself known through His Word, through people, through nature and in still, small whispers to my heart through His Spirit.

He doesn’t answer all my questions.  But I don’t feel abandoned.  

Dominic is with Jesus and Jesus is with me.

Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

Hebrews 13:8 PHILLIPS

I don’t feel close to Dominic at his grave. I go to honor him, to give voice to his memory but the essence of who he was and who he still is, lies in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him and love him still.

And the witness of that enduring love is the sign to which I cling. 

Faith is to believe when you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

~Augustine

 

 

 

 

 

June Challenge: Haiku

Day Seventeen of Kathleen Duncan’s  June 1-30 challenge.

The prompt: Write a Haiku (Seventeen Syllables)

It was an interesting challenge to distill a message to just 17 syllables.

I have long believed that each life is also a song.

This is mine:

 

sings with song

 

 

I am a song bird.

I sing love, grace, mercy, peace-

I learned the hard way.

 

 

 

 

My Cup Overflows

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b

I remember standing in our field with my husband at sundown one day, thankfulness and grace and mercy and wonder flooding my heart-and I whispered, “surely my cup overflows!”

Surely, God’s hand is in this, is on our lives-He has brought us to this place of blessing.

And that’s how I used to always think of that verse-the cup overflowing with goodness and blessing.

But what about when the cup overflows with sorrow?  

With pain?

With tragedy, trials and temptations?

jesus in the garden

Jesus knew about that cup.  That’s the cup He begged the Father to take from Him.

The cup that was bitter and hard to swallow.

He prayed three times, He sweat blood and He battled His flesh so that His spirit could conform to the Father’s will.

And in the end, He submitted Himself to the Father’s plan.

He was obedient, even to death, even to death that He did not deserve, did not HAVE to suffer, did not WANT to suffer.

I have buried a son.

And it is the most painful thing I have ever had to bear.

It’s a burden I never anticipated and it’s a burden of which I will not be free until I join him in Heaven.

There are some parents who have suffered the loss of multiple children. Or who have suffered child loss and other difficult life circumstances.

If my cup is full and overflowing, theirs is overflowing still more.

Where to take that full cup?

Where to find the strength to carry it, to drink it to the dregs?

When my heart screams, “No more!” and my body cries, “I can’t do this!”, I look to my Savior for the model of how to carry on.

Only in Christ, Who Himself bore the cup and Who drank its bitter fullness can I hope for strength and redemption.

The One Who knows my pain can carry my pain.

The One Who lives again will breathe life into my heart.  

The One Who redeems what the enemy has stolen will turn my mourning to dancing.  

cup of blessing

This cup will not always overflow with sorrow.  Around the banquet table at the wedding supper of the Lamb, it will once again be full of joy.

You make me know the path of life; in your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight.

Psalm 16:11 CJB

 

 

The Sound of Silence

Busy, busy, busy and noisy, noisy, noisy.

Every day is full of activity and every minute full of sounds-television, radio, Itunes or Pandora.

holy-solitude

 

 

I am, at the same time, hyper-connected and dis-connected. My mind is often full but my heart can feel empty. 

 

 

If I can move fast enough or create sufficient distraction, then maybe I can ignore the harder questions, the deeper thoughts, the uncomfortable feelings that I would rather not explore.

Being in one’s own company alone with God is challenging.  Without the noise of outside distraction I am forced to face my fears and hidden darkness.  And in the quiet I find that the easy answers leave me empty and unsatisfied.  I must listen carefully for the still, small Voice that whispers comfort.

If I want to hear from God I need to embrace solitude and make space to hear.