Peaceful

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

The past few weeks I have had several conversations with people going through difficult times.

Each person is experiencing a time that would like to rob you of any joy, peace or knowledge of the Lord.

I have tried to be a good listener and to respond how I think the Lord would have me respond. What I have concluded is this world is not pleasant. Yes, the scenery and artistry of God is present everywhere in this world, but, living here is filled with troubles.

Each of us experience things that can tear our heart out. Sickness, cancer, death, isolation and loneliness can drive us to the brink of wondering where our God is and if he is actually listening or caring about us personally.

It is easy to look at the situation looming towards us. It is easy to say that there is no possible way that God could be in the midst of things. It can be easy to look at the world and what it holds and be disillusioned. Personally, I have done this. I have lost joy before, I have questioned and yelled at God.

What I learned is that God is big enough to yell at Him. He can take it. He, like the loving Father He is will allow us to scream, holler, yell, roll on the floor, pitch a fit, kick and fuss. He allows our tantrums, and again, like the good Father He is, He will gently pick us up and hold us.

The situations may not have passed, but He is watching over us. It could be days, weeks, months or years later and we look back and marvel that the Lord was in the midst of that season. Ever faithful, ever watching, ever caring.

Today was a day that would have liked to rob several people of their peace, it was an unsettling day. But, God. He was in the middle of it all. He was not distant. He was not taking a nap. He was not ignoring cries from hearts. He was in the center, watching and supporting.

This morning a young man in our church ran through the gates of Heaven and into the arms of a waiting Savior. As he rushed into Heaven, I know he was greeted by our Lord, His arms wide open and waiting to hug this man. He met him and greeted him with a “Welcome Home Son, I have been anxiously waiting for you.”

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NKJV)

This scripture has run through my mind this afternoon. The joy of our Lord is my strength. I do have the joy of the Lord. He gives it in abundance.

We may want to falter, and hesitate, and give up. Between the peace of God so freely given, and the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, there is nothing we cannot conquer. So, I will continue to have difficult conversations with friends. I will continue to pray how to respond. Most importantly, I will pray for them.

Keepsakes of the Heart

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3 (NLT)

There are years when this day passes like every other day. The 27th of September, the month is almost over and soon October will be here. A day in the month, a day of the week.

Still other years my mind travels and my heart opens up to remind me of the keepsakes I carry there. On September 27th in 1966 my Mom passed away. It seems like ancient history most times. My sisters and I not only survived, we thrived. We continued on in our life. Yes, we met with more than a few hiccups, but we kept moving and going and are stronger today because of this event.

When the years come where this is on my mind, I sit and study the reasoning behind my thoughts. Am I okay? Do I miss my sisters? Am I on that tape of wondering the what if’s?

I am okay. I do miss my sisters, who doesn’t when we live far apart? And yes, I do compare my relationships with my daughters and wonder the what if’s in life.

The reality is, I will never know if I would have had conflict with my mother during my teen years. Neither will I know how I would have handled (or how she would have handled) my getting married young and moving away. I will wonder what kind of a grandmother she would have been. Would I have had to tell her not to spoil my girls? Yes, there are a lot of what if’s, not only because of losing a parent, but in life in general we have what if’s.

It’s been 56 years since she passed away. Breakthroughs have happened in cancer research, the world has greatly changed. We have grown up. I do wonder what she would think of cell phones and computers and flying cars, oh yeh, that hasn’t really happened yet. I got distracted.

In truth, my memories of her are keepsakes. Things to pull out on occasion and examine and look at. I am thankful for those memories. I know some are from stories and some are actual memories. She gave my sisters and I a good foundation. She gave us strength, and a sense of humor. I was once told by my Dad that I had my mother’s temper, don’t know if that’s a good thing…

So today, although the keepsakes have escaped from the vault of my heart, I am thankful she gave me life. I am thankful for what she instilled in me. I am thankful I don’t have her nose. I am thankful that for eleven years of my life I had a great Mom.

A Case of the What If’s

I watched Little Shop of Horrors once. All I can remember is the plant singing for Seymour to feed him. I recall Rick Moranis’ character dreading going near the plant knowing there would be a demand for a feeding. He knew he would do something he would not want to do

Similarly waiting in a dentist’s office, hearing the drill going in the next room, knowing you are next. It will be your turn to sit in that chair. Your turn to hear that drill start up. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

Today I sat in a waiting room. It was for that appointment women dread. Their turn with the torture machine. It is in that waiting room where cases of the “What if’s” are birthed. The room was not filled, and it truly is a pleasant room to sit in. Comfortable chairs and couches fill the room. A waterfall peacefully spills down a wall. Music from my youth is now chosen as the ‘elevator’ music that quietly plays in the background.

I always think of the 23rd Psalm while sitting there. Verses 2 and 3 somehow come to mind whenever I see a waterfall. “He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.”(NLT) Although looking around the room I see faces strained with worry and fear. Fear and anxiety in these circumstances can be contagious, it is the nature of the beast.

I do tend to not enjoy these times, but I know well that the Lord heals in these circumstances. I have experienced such healing. I sit in those rooms reminding myself of the healing and thanking God that He is in control of all areas of my life.

I remind myself of the what if’s. What if they find something? They find something, nothing you can do to change that. What if they need to do further testing? Would I rather know than wonder? What if it is cancer? Well, the last I recall the C in Christ is more powerful than the C in cancer.

What if’s can infiltrate your mind, causing unrest and panic. We do not serve a God of panic. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (NKJV)

If the God who created us knows the number of hairs on our head, He knows what the ‘what if’s’ in your life are. He does not sit on His throne of Grace wringing His hands wondering what to do next. No, He knows the plans for our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

I choose to give my what if’s to my Lord. He can deal with them better than I can.