For the last couple of months my head has been so full, that I have found it hard to wrestle down one thought to put to page. In the expanse of two months my church closed, my mom was in and out of the hospital 3 times, my youngest son started college, my middle son started student teaching, my oldest son got engaged, my daughter started driving, and the program I was part of at work shut down and I began training for another position. Most of these things have been good things, really good things, but some have been sad, and at the very least all of them have brought change into my life.
I like to think I like change, but when it comes down to it, change is hard. Change requires learning how to do life in a different way than I have been doing it, and I have found that as I get older, change often increases my anxiety level. My sense of peace tends to increase when things stay the same and tends to dissipate when things change. I am quite sure, however, that what I call peace is actually control in disguise.
When things get out of sync I tend to feel the need to control things. When things are settled into what I know as normal, I am able to loosen up on my grip a bit. It is a common reaction, we get more controlling when things get out of control. We get more obsessive, when life is unsettled. But is settled-ness really peace?
Ann Spangler, in her book “Praying the Names of God”, describes one of the characteristics of God as being “YAHWEH SHALOM- the Lord of Peace.”
“To live in the presence of the Holy Spirit is to be at peace – at peace with God, with others, with ourselves. … No matter how turbulent our world becomes, we can be at peace, showing forth his presence regardless of circumstances.”There is that word “regardless” again. Honestly, I am more than willing to be faithful, content and joyful as long as my life works out the way I want it to. God, on the other hand, is always calling me to live a life of regardless faith. Regardless of how life looks on this side of heaven, he asks me to trust that he is good and that he has a better plan. I know that living with a regardless faith is the key to true freedom and peace, but I have not learned to stay there, I only visit now and again. One story, that God has used in my life regarding regardless, is the story of Gideon in the Bible. Gideon meets God face to face, and God tells him that he is sending him to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Gideon does not believe God, and so he keeps asking him for signs. They are really crazy signs, check them out in Judges 6. The thing that strikes me about this situation is that Gideon keeps asking for one more sign. There have been times when I have begged God to give me a sign that everything is going to turn out okay. Remarkably he gave me sign after sign. I did not, however, feel any more confident that things were going to turn out okay. I finally realized why the signs were not working; I was asking the wrong question. I asked for a sign to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I should have been asking for a sign to let me know that everything was going to turn out the way I wanted it to. Do you see the problem here? I want to control my circumstances and God wants me to learn to live in peace regardless of my circumstances. So what is the solution? Have you ever sat in the very front row of a movie theatre? Imagine watching a movie with your face planted against the screen. I believe we are watching our lives with our faces planted against the movie screen. God thankfully can see the whole image and knows the beginning, middle and end of our stories. I white knuckle my way through life with the crushing weight of control. Not only is it completely unnecessary, but it must grieve God beyond my understanding. He offers peace and I reject it and settle for control. Father, please forgive me and help me to be a woman who lives with regardless faith. YAHWEY SHALOM- the God of peace is waiting for us in the fields of coriander. He will lead us to the valley of peace where we can trade in our white knuckle control for a heart filled with regardless faith.
Psalm 61:1-4 “Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.