Fighting for Peace

I wrote last week about how I believe the best is yet to come. Wednesday, I spent a good part of the day journaling and talking to God about everything going on in my life these days. I already believed what I’d written the day before, but I reached an even deeper place of peace and assurance that God truly has incredible things in store.

And then Thursday came. The potential disappointment I’d mentioned in last week’s post suddenly seemed like more of a probability than a possibility; I didn’t handle the thought well. The peace I had just a few hours before seemed nonexistent, and I became a bit of an emotional wreck for the afternoon.

As I pulled out my journal once again, the first lines I wrote were: “It’s amazing how often one must fight for peace… It seems like an oxymoron, but it’s true.” I have no idea where those words came from, but they’ve had me thinking ever since. So many times I think of peace as the absence of struggle, but often it seems like a war within to stay in a place of peace.

Jesus told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He is our source of peace no matter what is happening in the world, but it can be a battle to remain connected to that source when it seems the world is falling apart around us.

Paul encouraged the Philippians (4:4-8), “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This is how we “fight” for peace. We take thoughts captive, every minute if necessary, and remind ourselves of truth. We rejoice always in Who our God is and the fact He is with us. We dwell in Him and fix our eyes on Him instead of on our circumstances. We present our needs and desires to Him and trust He will accomplish what concerns us, even if it isn’t in the way we expect.

I may have more emotional moments in the coming months as I wait to see what unfolds. But today, I’m in a place of peace. Tomorrow may bring a battle to stay there, but I know the weapons needed for the fight. I will rejoice in God and fix my thoughts on His truth, knowing wherever I am and whatever happens, the best is still ahead!

The Pain of Being Still

I’ve had a difficult time writing today. Not because I have nothing to say. (I’m pretty sure that is a rare occurrence for me!) The problem has been my inability to be still.

 I have done something to my back, and for the last couple of days, sitting still has been nearly impossible. As long as I’m up and moving around, the pain radiating from my lower back into my legs is manageable. When I have tried to sit or lie down for any length of time, the discomfort has grown to the point that I physically cannot stay still.

Thankfully, the pain is easing slightly this afternoon, and I am able to sit down and put some words on the screen.

As I thought today about what I might write when I was able, I began to think of other times in my life when I have experienced a different kind of discomfort in being still. There have been so many times when I occupied my mind with anything and everything I could find or kept myself busy in any way I could think up to avoid being still with my thoughts.

 Have you ever been afraid to be alone with your thoughts? Have you experienced the discomfort of being still?

Typically when I experience that discomfort, it is because there is some thought or feeling I need to face. I keep my mind busy with television or music or Facebook or sometimes more productive tasks – anything I can find to avoid facing the issues I don’t want to deal with. I find it interesting (and often annoying) that God rarely lets me get away with avoiding the issues for very long. I’ve lost count of the TV shows which He has used to speak to me about the very things I’ve immersed myself in the show to avoid!

The thing is, I know that the sooner I allow God to bring things to light and speak His truth in the midst of the pain, the sooner I can be free to run with Him again. The world tells us that staying busy is the way to be productive, but I have found that in these times when I’m staying busy for the sake of busyness, the most productive thing I can do is to be still and let Him remind me that He is God in my circumstances.

And now, friends, as I get up and pace my flat and do some stretches to find relief, I invite you to be still and see if there is discomfort or pain for which you need some relief. If you find yourself unable to be still, I encourage to ask God for His help to face the cause and let Him bring healing and peace.

Mental Christmas Lights

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No, this isn’t a post about Christmas in July, as much as I’ve always liked that idea. (I suppose having a birthday in July is pretty close.)

Lately my brain has seemed like the photo above — a jumbled mess! It’s full of little thoughts and ideas that I’m sure could be turned into something beautiful that would bring a glow of light to life if I could just sort them out.  The thing about trying to untangle Christmas lights (or even just a pile of string) is that it’s easiest if you can find one of the ends. Having one bit that is a starting place in the process is a key to success. If you can find that bit, even though it’s still a lot of work, you’ve got some hope of sorting out the mess.

The problem with my mental Christmas lights at the moment is that it all seems interconnected. I can’t find a starting point from which to begin unraveling all of the thoughts. Thankfully, the thoughts are good ones – my mind is not weighed down with troubles, but it’s still a mess. I need to journal. I know that if I could just put words to everything going on in my head – the promises of God, the breakthroughs that I feel are just around the corner, the doors God is opening, the hope I feel for the rest of this year, the excitement for my birthday, and so much more – I would have things sorted out in no time and the light would shine beautifully. That’s just how my mind works, words are required (either aloud or in writing) to know what’s going on in there.

If only I could find a starting place. Every time I go to write, every subject I want to talk through with God leads back into another, a different and maybe more appropriate starting point. Unfortunately, that one then leads to another and another and even another until I find myself back at the first subject and still staring at a blank page.

So, now what? I began this blog post in hopes that I might find the starting point from which I could move forward in my journal. I’m not sure I found an answer, but perhaps I’ll find something more important – that I am not alone in this jumbled mess. I’m hoping that by sharing my own ball of mental Christmas lights, maybe others will realize that they are in good company. Sometimes it takes time to sort out all that goes on inside our heads and hearts, and that doesn’t mean the process is bad (or that the mess is bad either).

It can be frustrating when you just want to see the finished product of a beautifully decorated tree or home and move on to the celebrations, but what if we could celebrate the process? What if we found others who could help us sort out the mess and then stick around to celebrate the beauty with us? Who might be right there beside us in the process, ready to help if only we let them?

It might take a while to sort out all that God is doing in me. I might just have to jump into the middle of the mess and choose to start somewhere. Eventually, I’ll find an end and be able to plug the lights in and see the glow, maybe even before it’s all straightened out.

I have a feeling though, that as I work on sorting out my thoughts, God will bring people along to help me sort and then celebrate the finished product. I pray He’ll do the same for anyone else out there that needs to sort some stuff.