Wednesday, December 19

Raging storms, peaceful heart

Isaiah 26:3 (AMP) "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You."

It is the tendency of every human being to seek that one place where they can find some peace from the raging storms that come across the landscape of their lives. Usually, this involves a withdrawal from society, friends, family, and living itself. It isn't often visible on the outside, this withdrawal but takes place within our hearts and our minds. We disconnect so that the painful winds of the raging storm don't hurt us.

Apathy. When we walk past that homeless person on the street corner, whispering 'can't help' or 'get a job' as we cast our eyes down to the sidewalk in shame. That family at church that is having distress in finances or addictions, that we poo-poo with insincere sincerity speaking of the will of God and the unknown treasures that lie in the suffering beyond our capability to understand....and we walk away, feeling justified in our 'loving', to get into our expensive cars and head to our 2,000 square foot homes. We frown at those who aren't dressed in the latest Armandi suit or 'casual wear' and look with scorn upon the parents who scream at their children in the stores. We are the most uninvolved busybodies in the world.

If we look to the example of Christ, we can see how this Old Testament verse applied in His ministry, and should apply to the church today.....

Contentment. Jesus, from what the Bible shows us, was aware at least at the age of seven that His mission was different from anyone else in the world. He spoke of it to his parents, questioning their concern at his disappearance--pointing to the fact that they knew where He was, in His Father's house. He spent the three years of His earthly ministry teaching the Twelve, with full knowledge that the end was to be violent and painful, that He would be abandoned by His closest disciples, and forced to carry the very tool of His death to the place where they would kill Him.

Paul spoke of being content 'in all circumstances.' There was nothing, Paul felt, that could justify his discontentment in this world, if God was really and fully in charge. And full of concern, care, grace, and mercy for His children. No matter the pain or suffering Paul endured, and he endured shipwrecks, prision, beatings, and other persecutions......he kept focused on the end of the 'race.' The prize of eternal life.

I once knew this contentment, that Isaiah spoke of as a promise and Paul spoke of as a blessing. Through the raging storms of the declining financial well-being of my family, I was content to trust in God to provide for us in our needs. He did. I kept my eyes focused on Him and we endured through the loss of the house, the failing mechanics of the cars, the 'midnight rescues' of financial tight spots. Through two years of devastating heartache and worry, God listened to the cries of His child and gave enough to endure. Enough to survive. Just enough. And I was content.

When I had committed to God, I gave it fully, leaning upon His promise and praying in confident hope for His grace and mercy, joy and peace. Fully focused upon the face of my Father. At peace in the raging storm.

Any sailor will tell you that the ONE thing you don't want to do in a hurricane, other than not be in a hurricane, is to panic. Panic leads to mistakes and mistakes out at sea in the midst of highly agitated sea will kill you. Slow, decisive action always will serve you better in the chaotic situation of the stormy seas.

When you panic, time speeds up and your mind races beyond the moment where your attention needs to be.....and the outcome isn't good. Because you begin to anticipate the situation that is never truly formed and mistake a good choice for a bad and visa versa. And soon, too soon, you are knee high in the ocean and holding on to a sinking mast.

Time. It takes time to recover from panicked reactions that set you back in your journey through this world. To recover that which you freely gave away in the desperation of the moment where the enemy had you convinced that God had given up on you.

The sea will still climb and your ship will continue to sink, even as you bring your focus back onto the task at hand, to prevent the sinking of the boat.

So it is with our spiritual journey with God. When we panic, when we swerve away from the Father's purpose for us, we start to sink into the raging sea like Peter once did in Galilee. But if we focus upon the eyes of our Father, we can know no discontentment because He will "keep [us] in perfect and constant peace" so we can begin the work of returning our boat to a state of bouyancy. And return to the task of 'fishing for men'.

Where are your eyes this Christmas season? Upon the Father or upon the price tag that the world tells you is the payment for contentment?

There is a wonderful, ideal place where we can abide in the storms of this life, where fear, worry, and discontentment have no hold and that is in our Father's arms.

I'll met you there.

Let's find that perfect peace the Lord intends for His children!

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