Tag Archives: peace

All Inclusive

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30

Our family has always loved amusement parks.  As the children have grown older, braver and taller we have enjoyed sharing with them the exhilarating thrill of roller coasters and other fast twirl-y rides that take your breath and equilibrium away all at the same time.  I think strapping ourselves into the metal monsters of amusement is the closest any of us will ever get to “living on the edge.”  It makes us feel like risk takers, it makes us feel alive, it makes us feel carefree!

What I have not always liked about amusement parks is that they make you pay to park.  This does, and has always just seemed completely ridiculous to me.  Call it a strong sense of justice, but it just doesn’t seem fair.   Firstly, the rates of admission are usually so pricey, it seems that parking should be included.  Secondly, charging to park implies that there is an alternative choice available. What alternative choice do we really have?  The enormity and isolation of the parking lot as well as the isolation factor of most amusements parks ensure that pretty much, everyone who drives a car to the park is going to end up paying this extra $10.00 fee for parking.  For me, I think it would be better if they just increased the price of the admission and offered FREE parking.

I guess the opposite of this kind of experience would be one that was “all inclusive.”  Our family was blessed recently by a ministry in Myrtle beach that provides week long all-expenses-paid vacations to families of children battling cancer.  It was amazing to have everything taken care of from the moment we got there until the moment we left.  We felt absolutely spoiled.  Not having to worry about anything made everything seem like an extravagant gift!

Yep, in my book, all inclusive is the way to go.

This is just one of the things I love about Jesus.  He was an “all-inclusive” kind of guy.  When on the cross, dying for our sin, His last word was “Tetelestai.”  In our English Bible, this word is literally translated “It is Finished.”  This phrase however doesn’t quite relay the tremendous magnitude and power of what He was saying.  In the Greek, Tetelestai implies that something has come to an end, it has been completed, perfected and accomplished in full and that the consequences of that very thing will carry on and on.

Indeed.  It was finished on the cross.  The debt and eternal consequence of my sin.  The power of death, hell and the grave.  Any separation from God the Father as a result of my falling short of His glory and perfection.  Taken care of…finished…in all its completeness- It was all included!  And the consequences of what Jesus did for me and for you on that day on the cross will live on and on for the remainder of eternity.

Our righteousness, peace, provision, comfort, protection and healing; wrapped up in that all inclusive gift of love presented to us by the Father, through the Son.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son.  My heart is grateful for all that His death on the cross provided for me.   

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Sleep for Sheep

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

I laid there for what seemed like hours.  My mind reeled, refusing to stop.  Like hamsters on a wheel thoughts cycled over and over again.  On my left side, right side, leg thrown over my husband who was sleeping on his side…each little sound in the room was being magnified directly through a megaphone into my ears.

Beyond frustrated and beginning to feel a little desperate I closed my eyes attempting to will myself to sleep.  Each look at the alarm clock reminded me how exhausted I would be when I had to get up in only 3 hours.  Deliberate about taking slow, deep breaths I thought that perhaps if I acted like I was asleep I could fool my body into moving in that direction.  It didn’t matter, nothing worked,  I gave up and got up.

As quietly as possible I snuck out of my bedroom; looking back at my husband I envied his steady snoozing. Grabbing a cup of hot tea, I sunk onto the couch settling into the darkness. My aware yet exhausted condition met with the quiet inactivity of early morning making room for the still small voice within.

“My Child, why do you fear?”

Immediately pegged I was disarmed by the truth of where my problem lie.  Abandoning the formalities of my normal quiet time routine I simply sat before the Lord, cried, and allowed my heart to spill out before Him.  I did fear.  I feared the unknown involved in the changes that loomed ahead.  Too many questions lacked answers and too much was out of my control.  Not even knowing exactly what lie ahead, I felt powerless to prepare.

Proverbs 3:5,6 rose up within me, “Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your  own understanding;  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  It wasn’t an unfamiliar passage to my heart. Touched with a tinge of guilt, I knew that I was supposed to trust, but in this particular moment I was having a difficult time with that.  Logically, I knew that my soul was out of control and I could not seem to, within my own strength, get it back in check.  I confessed this honestly before the Lord.  “Lord, I want to trust you, I need to trust you, what other choice do I even have?” Silence filled the room.  “Lord, help me to trust you.”

He restoreth my soul (Psalm 23:3)

As if He was just waiting for an invitation into the situation,  immediately peace overwhelmed me.  As honestly and forthright as I had been with Him, He now returned the favor.  “I have never left you or forsaken you.”

A gentle reminder of truth.  I had no grounds to argue; my mind filled with all of the times before that I had been at this same place and He had proven Himself faithful and trustworthy.

In Psalm 23 we are likened to sheep and the Lord as our Shepherd.  The green pastures  are places of peace and rest, even as the enemy looms.  Constantly surrounded by the unknown, sheep, who by nature are a fearful and defenseless animal, are able to find  peace because they have confidence in the shepherd.  They trust their shepherd, they rely on their shepherd and they find comfort in the presence of their shepherd.  They know by experience that their shepherd will protect them and keep them safe.

In times of restlessness and lacking peace remember Psalm 100:3… “Know the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Father thank you for always being such a good Shepherd.

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Lonely Places

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.               

Luke 5:16 (NIV)

I stared out at the water and even through my tears could appreciate the beauty of the scene before me.  The Father was generous with His magnificent display of autumn. On the water’s edge I pulled my knees up under my chin and wrapped my arms around tightly.

I focused upon the ripples as they started strong and gently relaxed the closer they came to me.  It seemed to be one of those times that despite my own concerted efforts the faucet connected to my heart was turned to on and I seemed incapable of preventing it from running its course; I knew that eventually they would come to their end and I could pull myself together before going back inside.

My make-up long ago cried off I had headed outside as soon as I was able to get away.  Each time I heard a noise behind me in the distance I would cringe preparing my heart for the well meaning approach of a kind stranger.  I took a quick inventory of fake smiles and kind responses in reserve just in case I needed them.  I was so thankful when each noise would fade and I remained only with the Lord.

I had to chuckle…partly at myself and partly at the Lord and the realization that He had had an inside scoop that I had just now become privy to. Prior to the women’s meeting I had strongly encouraged a friend to come knowing how much she needed it and how the Lord would be able to minister to her heart through what was shared.  Little did I know that it was I who would end up being so touched and affected by the message.

Descriptions of the phases of grief were shared beautifully and authentically by a sweet sister who had lost her husband to suicide years ago. The loss of loved ones is an issue which must be contended with by many hearts within the body of Christ.  Always painful, the ambience and festivities of the holiday season offer a unique flavor of grief.

I was reminded of the grief I walked through less than a year ago.  Although my mother died in 2008, it wasn’t until then that I was able to face and work through the pain of losing her.  Until this morning it had been awhile since I had felt the sting of heartache it offered. I was surprised at the flood of emotion that suddenly overwhelmed me.

Completely taken off guard by my own response I sat in the middle of the meeting and began to involuntarily sob.  At that moment the previously adequately sized room of women grew smaller and I wished that I had sat farther back. I was fervently searching for the closest exit with my eyes all the while realizing that really my only choice was to sit there until it was over feeling vulnerable and exposed.

As soon as I was able I withdrew to a lonely place and prayed. I knew that it was only the comfort that the Lord could offer me that would bring relief to my soul. I was thankful for wise women of God who had enough discernment to understand that I withdrew because I just needed to be alone with the Lord.

The journey of healing after losing a loved one looks different for each traveler.  There are times when the Lord is able to pour His love through the body of Christ in undeniable ways.  There are other times however when what is most beneficial to the soul is simply some time alone with the Father.  We must be mindful to extend grace to ourselves and others to allow room for both.

Father, help us to be sensitive to those around us who are hurting. 

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God Gauge

 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Matthew 7:24-25

It took several seconds for me to realize what was happening.  The noise and movement of what initially could have been a large truck driving by quickly escalated to a steady rumbling accompanied by increasing shaking.  Faced with the reality of what was occurring, panic rose from my stomach to my throat as I looked around my classroom at my students.  We are having an earthquake.

Although the children did not know or understand exactly what was going on, they looked to me for an explanation of what was undeniably out of the ordinary.  I had to stay calm.  I knew that whatever reaction I offered them would determine their own reaction to the situation.  As they looked at me I could tell that they were trying to gauge my response to determine whether they should be afraid or not.

Seconds later with a smile and a firm tone of voice I directed them to leave what they were doing and line up right away.  We followed the other classes down the hallway and out onto the playground.  Within seconds the rumbling stopped, the shaking ceased and we all stood still.

The teachers took a moment to together breathe again, staring at one another with wide eyes as we all realized the magnitude of what had just taken place and how differently it all could have turned out.  The children, sensing that the emergency was over, chattered among themselves with excitement over what had just happened.

We headed back in and resumed school as usual.  As small children do, my class was able to quickly focus on the next task; seeing that no harm had been done they remained unscathed.  I on the other hand found myself stuck at the what if’s and what could have beens of what had just occurred. Flashbacks of scenes of the aftermath of earthquakes in other parts of the world filled my mind.  The pictures of destruction, devastation and demise of entire communities were fixed on the forefront of my heart.  I was thankful for what didn’t happen yet overwhelmed with the thought of what could have happened.  In that moment that the earthquake began I recall feeling completely out of control.  There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening and in that moment I had no idea how bad it was going to get.  I hate feeling out of control.

They say that when you are a teacher you learn from your students as well as teach them.  In that moment when my students did not know what was going on they looked to me.  It was by my response that they gauged their own.  As they were looking to me, I should have been looking to my Lord.  Instead I allowed fear and independence to rise up within me and take over as I wrestled with the best plan of action.  I had to keep my students safe, they were my responsibility, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

God never freaks out, He never feels afraid and He never falls from the throne.  Regardless of what we face, if we will look to Him and gauge our response by His according to the truth of His Word, we will be able to handle whatever trouble may come with more peace, stability and sense than we are able in our own strength.

Father, when I feel afraid, confused and out of control help me to remember to always look to you to gauge my response. 

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