Putting God’s peace on the shelf

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Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV)

What strikes me from the three promises above is that God’s providential peace and God’s providential trouble form the ‘normal’ for the Child of God. (Those outside of God’s family face the suffering without the grace of His peace)

The supernatural spiritual peace we have received is a GIFT.  Yet when I think of all the gifts I have been given by friends and family, I shudder at how I have disposed of them.

Some intrigued me for a while and I used them, a lot.  But then I either put them aside and forgot about them or threw them away. Some I didn’t know what to do with, like the rubber tube about an inch or so in diameter open on both ends.  When I finally took it to my daughter-in-law to ask her ‘What in the heck is this for?’, I laughed to find out it was a garlic skin remover.  Others I regifted, immediately.  A few I even returned for the cash!

Similarly, I have treated God’s gift of peace, without the awe and gratitude it deserves.  Thankfully, a prayer I read this morning reminded me NOT to fear present or future suffering but to cling to the peace that is part of my inheritance from God.

So…. YES, trials ARE ordained for us, for our sanctification.  But God has given us His peace, which surrounds us on all sides.  This beyond-words peace (“….God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand – Phil 4:7 NLT) IS larger than our troubles and suffering.  The gift has been given.  Let us not put this beautiful provision out of sight, on the shelf.

But instead may we fix our gaze, that is, the eyes of our heart, on our costly birthright purchased for us by Jesus at the Cross.

 

Trials, Trust and Truffles

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Summit Graduation Banner - 17 May

 

 

 

It was a sweet homecoming – with so many friends, students, parents, colleagues, and brothers and sisters in Christ!

I had been invited to be the commencement speaker this past weekend at my old school, Summit Christian Academy, in Yorktown, Virginia.  It had been 11 months since we had seen everyone, having moved down to Western North Carolina last June.

As I shared in an earlier blog post, I had crafted a talk that was a parable of 2 college students, but Mike had honestly commented that it felt more like LAW than GRACE when he read it. Humbled, I ditched it and started in on Version 2, this time relying on God for inspiration.

Katy bar the door

 A talk tinged with ‘Law’ and good advice?  “Katy Bar The Door!”

 

 

And what resulted, I’m convinced, was what God had intended all along.  Instead of a clever framework for how to live the college life, according to Maria, I spoke from the heart.  I unreservedly shared some past pain, lessons  and surprising gifts in the new talk entitled  ‘Transitions, Trust and Truffles, (aka treasure)

Intended for whom, you ask?  Voilà la question!

Some of the 18 seniors sitting in cap & gown nodded off.

Dozing off during a speech

 

 

 

 

My look back and distillation of transitions-cum-trials from forced and often reluctant practice relying on God  was probably of little interest  to 18 year-olds that Saturday afternoon. (Yes, I could see a few chins sinking to chests!)

But the adult women who came up to me afterwards and shared snippets of their struggles and how God encouraged them via my remarks confirmed to me that however ‘unusual’ the talk was, it had indeed ministered to some.  What kind of thread can unite the stories of 4 improbable Bible characters such as the Ethiopian eunuch, bitter Naomi, willing Sarah and reluctant Moses and encourage all of us to trust God?  Where else but in Christianity do both the ‘deserving’ AND the ‘undeserving’ receive overflowing gifts of love and grace from God!

My points were: 

  • Transitions are frequent in life
  • Some we choose, some we don’t
  • The only sane way to handle all of them is to trust God
  • God is doing more than we can imagine in even those transitions we choose
  • Our trusting God will be evident to others and make us attractive – causing them to look twice – at us and our circumstances
  • At that point, having been drawn to our counter-intuitive trust in God, they may ask WHY we are different and WHAT we believe, opening the door for us to share specifically the content of our HOPE in God. (1 Peter 3:15)

Preach gospel to yourself

 

 

 

One ‘aha’ moment from this past year was the need to stop listening to my thoughts and instead TALK to myself, that is TELL myself truth.  Once I realized that some of my thoughts were not really MINE, but enemy propaganda’ planted by spiritual forces of wickedness, I wrote out a list of FACTS that I continue to recite every day to ward off the virus of discouragement.  Here they are:

  • Discouragement is from the Pit of Hell
  • It has no content – it is just a tactic, a device, a ploy, a method, a tool
  • Discouragement is intended to stop me, and move me from where I am being effective for the Kingdom
  • No weapon formed against me can prosper UNLESS I quit
  • I will not quit or leave my post until God moves me

The entire weekend was a gift to me; for not only did we catch up with many friends from our neighborhood, the school and then church on Sunday, I got to experience the encouragement of the body of Christ.  Many friends and family members called me before our trip, wrote me reassuring emails and texted me that they were praying.

Text Msg to Encourage me -17 May 2014

 

 

 

 

One final thought:  So many friends came up to me after my talk and remarked: “I had no idea that you all were going through such trials.  I’m so sorry!”

What I found myself reflecting back to them was this: “Don’t be sorry!  Mike and I have had a  very rich year, digging into God’s Word for comfort, guidance and truth.  I wouldn’t have invited these trials, but I’m not sorry for all we are learning about how REAL and RELIABLE God is.

Paul exhorts the Galatians to:  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way ….  fulfill the law of Christ.  (Gal 6:2)

You all did that for me this weekend!

Bear one another's burdens

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