Steadfast Peace

sleep

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3)

I blew it last night.  I lost my debit card at a gas station last night and I didn’t even realize it until I got a Facebook private message asking me, “Did you lose your debit card at such-and-such gas station?”  I dug into my purse and, sure enough, no debit card.  I quickly messaged the person back: “Yes, I did!  Is it still there?”  The answer: “No, I have it, I didn’t want to leave it at the gas station.  We are eating supper now after church.”  I messaged back: “Thank you! Tell me where and I’ll come to you to get it” And I waited, keys in hand, for the response.  Nothing.  More waiting.  No response.  Thirty minutes went by and nothing.  I tried to call.  No answer.  I messaged again.  No response.  I checked my messenger every 3 minutes, no response. No response. No response. An hour later and I sent another message: “Please let me know how I can connect with you and get my debit card back.”  Crickets chirping. By this point my anxiety level was through the roof.  I checked my account on-line to see if the card was being used.  Thankfully not.  I agonized over whether to have the card cancelled.  But she said they had been at church, so there was a little hope.  We went to bed and my mind was a whirlwind of anxiety.  I lay down, eyes squeezed shut and tried to sleep.  I sensed a brief flash of light from the bedside table.  She messaged me back: “Sorry, my phone went dead.”  Relief flooded my mind and heart as I messaged her back and arranged to pick it up. I finally drifted off to sleep.

This morning Isaiah 26:3 floated through my mind.  I realized I had blown it.  I lost my peace.  I worried and fretted, imagining all sorts of scenarios of my card being used and my account being drained.  I was the antithesis of the person in this verse.  My mind was everywhere but on the Lord.  Surely the same God who had just taken us from the pit of joblessness, homelessness and despair and blessed us so richly, could be trusted to safeguard my debit card.  The truth is, I had not even thought to ask Him to.  My mind was nowhere near Him.  I had no peace in the situation.  And to make matters worse, I had just come from a Bible study where the lesson was on peace!

Our lives are constantly in flux – ups and downs with sudden curves and more than a few potholes.  But our hearts don’t have to be.  If we keep God as the center of our thoughts we can peacefully endure all the uncertainties and sudden changes that come at us.  What if I had immediately prayed, “Thank you for securing my lost debit card.  I know it is safe in Your hands, no matter whose human hands are holding it.  Help me to trust You to get it back to me.”  If only I had remembered that God is trustworthy in all things that surround me, that He cares about my life and the things that concern me, I would have saved myself so much anxiety and sleep.

Maybe your concern is something bigger than a lost debit card.  Maybe it is a lost relationship, or a hard diagnosis, or a financial pothole that keeps you up at night.  I’ve been in those too.  And God has been faithful. You and I are not people in despair with no hope.  We are the people of God and He cares about everything that touches our lives.  Everything.  And with that assurance we can – we must – take hold of our thoughts and redirect them to Him.  Only then can we weather these hard things with peace.  Beloved, has He ever let you down?  I didn’t think so – and He won’t now.  Peace is a byproduct of trust and trust comes when we consider the faithful record of God and His righteous, loving character.  The saying goes: “No God, no peace.  Know God, know peace.”  We need to know Him, trust Him, and stand steadfast in faith.  Beloved, you and I can have a perfect peace because we have a perfect God who cares for us perfectly.  Steadfast peace is a soft pillow on which to lay your head; trust God – and get some sleep tonight.

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Hold My Hand

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

When my son was much younger he was afraid of thunderstorms, especially those that came through at night.  Like every child, he wanted to be near his parents, where he felt safe; but he was at the age where he really wanted to be “a big boy.”  He didn’t want to give in to his fears, but his fears were very real.  I’ve been there, and I am sure you have as well.

I remember one night in particular, when a storm rolled in just as his dad and I were going to bed.   He said to me, “Mommy, I’m just gonna lay down here by your bedroom door.  I really don’t need to get in your bed anymore.”  “Okay son that is a good idea.  I am here if you need me.” And so he curled up with his pillow and blanket by the door.  The thunder crackled outside and lightning flashed through the sky.  “Mommy, I am going to lay down here on the floor beside your bed. Don’t step on me Mommy!”  “Okay son, I will be careful not to step on you. I’m here if you need me.”  Another bright flash followed by a crash of thunder.  “Mommy will you put your hand down here so I can hold it?”  “Of course son, here’s my hand. I’m here if you need me.”   Suddenly the sky lit up and a “BOOM!” rattled the windows.  “Mommy, I’m comin’ up there!”  And in just a few minutes, nestled in my arms, one hand reaching out to touch his dad, my son was fast asleep, even as the storm raged on.

Doesn’t life throw some awfully frightening storms our way at times?  The rain pounds down on us and we frantically search for a safe haven from the lightning.  I think the emotional and mental thunder is the worst.  The crash of a breaking heart, the crackle of frayed nerves and the BOOM that rattles our lives makes us want to reach out to someone, anyone who will comfort us and make us feel safe and secure.  Where do grown-ups go when the storms roll through?

Like many, I turn to the Word of God, and especially the Psalms. Psalmists like King David and Aseph, one of the Temple musicians, peppered the book of Psalms with both pleas and praise for God’s protection during stormy seasons.   God is called, a “shield” (Ps. 3:3, 5:12, 7:10,), a “refuge and stronghold” (Ps. 9:9), and a “place of shelter” (Ps. 55:8), just to name a few.  David finds security “in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (Ps. 17:8).  One of my favorite phrases is “But God…”  Over and over again, the Psalmist expresses his fears over the storm he is in, and then turns his heart around by saying “But God…” as he proclaims his confidence and trust in the Lord.  Psalm 73 could have been my son’s verse: “Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.”  And David expressed what I am sure were his feelings that stormy night: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

Remember how Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4: 35-41, and even walked on the tumultuous waves in Matthew 14:22-33?  He is still walking out on the choppy seas of your life and mine to calm the storm around us. Life is hard, but you don’t have to face it alone.  You have a Shield, a shelter and a refuge. Storms will come, of that we can be certain.  But God… God calls out “I’m here if you need me.”  He holds His arms open wide to draw His child near, and in the arms of God is peace, safety, security…and rest.

Holy Father, like a little child, I will draw close to You when the thunder crashes, all the way up into Your strong and reassuring arms.  You are my comfort in the storms of life.  Amen.