Peace can often be disrupted by change. Change can wreak havoc on our faith, encouraging us to put our hope in the next season, for the peace found in heaven. Is the peace of heaven your goal?
It’s brilliant, the colors produced by frost, but this is July. Summer in New Hampshire isn’t a time for such change. The weather has been wacky. We’ve gone from heat wave to frost filled nights and back to summer in a matter of days. Due to the unexpected frigid temperatures, the vines growing alongside the road have turned a vibrant red. These colorful leaves are a view not normally observed in summer. Nature has an expected course, and yet change has disrupted it.
Our lives are similar to the roadside vines. We’re comfortable. We schedule our days, plan for futures, and have become complacent with the world that surrounds us, as if what is will not change. Everything has a season. We work hard, strive toward goals, and expect that one day we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor, both financially and personally, but unexpected change can disrupt those plans.
Unwelcome and often difficult to accept, diverting our journey in directions we never imagined, things beyond our control arise, impacting our calculated steps. Change is hard. Rather than life conforming to our plans, we find ourselves adapting on the fly. We scramble to adjust, intent to still achieve the end goals we treasure, our eyes ever on the future. With our focus so often on what’s ahead, our energy spent on maneuvering the myriad of unexpected diversions, we’re never at rest. But the goal is worth it, isn’t it?
This scenario resonates in our Spiritual lives as well. When unexpected issues arise and challenge our faith, we struggle, and work diligently to get the path to peace in view once more. We look forward to heaven and what God has waiting for us there, as if that’s the end goal. Infuriated by the world’s injustices that we can’t seem to rectify, we look forward to the peace we’ll experience one day in heaven. We anticipate a time in which peace and love will rule. Just as with our plan toward retirement or material goals, what is beyond our reach has become our focus. However, God’s Kingdom is meant to be experienced today!
It isn’t beyond reach. It’s not an unseen image off in the distance taunting us. You don’t need to work toward or wish for the end goal of heaven’s peace when God’s Kingdom is present and surrounding you now. You simply need it revealed to you. Turn to Christ. Commune with Him. Be with Him. There is no effort necessary, just a choice to let Him be your King. Let Him open your eyes to the Spiritual realm that is closer than you humanly can perceive. The more intimate your relationship with Christ, the more you see God’s will at work. Unexpected chaos or change becomes seen as God’s purpose. You sense the filling of His Holy Spirit within your being, imparting peace and joy, regardless of circumstances that previously challenged your walk.
Autumn in July
Nature has no choice but to go along for the ride, adapt without complaint, and glows in brilliance from the circumstances it endures. Rather than looking ahead toward a goal and working to achieve it, rest and enjoy the space of today, sitting at the feet of our Savior. Live in His Spiritual realm now, the Kingdom of God. Let His will be done, and enjoy His peace as it wraps around us. Tomorrow will likely look different than we’d hoped, but God is there and allows us to adapt to His will. Trusting that He is in control and resting in that is powerful.
In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, a moment really. An accident, news from afar, a secret brought to light. Many things can happen that alter the course of life forever, leaving us derailed by tragedy.
How do you dress for that, the moment that changes life? I stood before my mirror, contemplating my outfit, my hairstyle. I applied my make-up with a feeling of melancholy tugging at my heart. The Christian music playing in the background of my mind encouraged me to, once again, trust what God was doing. I stepped down the stairs, ready as I’d ever be for whatever was coming.
“Stay where you are. Something very bad is coming. If you remain faithful to me, you will be truly blessed.” God had spoken those words to me long, long ago, and when bad came, though the storm was powerful, I never felt alone. Though rattled, I could not be shaken. God’s strength, peace, and direction had become my everything. The presence of God was the center of who I was.
He spoke to me once again, way back then, giving peace to my timid heart. It was in the words of a song, the direction that freed me. “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth.” You see, I wasn’t going to win some big battle that would announce to the world that I’d done well. The fact was that I’d already won, because I had peace. Peace in the midst of chaos. Peace in the middle of the storm. Peace regardless of circumstances. In that moment of revelation and clarity, weight lifted from my shoulders. It had been a weight declaring that I’d failed. It’d been a weight of segregation as I’d been left to fend for myself. It’d been a weight of loss, for the life I’d envisioned I was to live was not to be.
In that moment of clarity I realized that I was meant to be alone so God could be my strength. I was meant to love my enemy, because that is what God is, love. I was meant to endure loss of my own expectations, because I was not in control, God was.
Winds of Change are Present
When sudden change hits it can cripple the unsuspecting. Life becomes immediately out of control, overwhelming, and frightening. When today becomes instantly unfamiliar, a step toward tomorrow is beyond comprehension. How do you plan for such events? Is it in making sure your plans for future, finances, family matters, or work intentions are well prepared? Is it in reading about, studying, putting into practice good organizational skills? Is it in trying to control your life as well the lives of those who impact yours? If all of these things are worked toward, it would make sense that the unexpected changes that could potentially alter all for you would be less likely. If you strive to make your comfort zone safe and lessen the impact of outside influence, it would seem that chaos may be diverted. Wrong.
“In a moment” changes will happen to each of us. Are you prepared? Can you be prepared? All of the things we strive for in order to be in control will ultimately not be able to comfort us when that day comes. The work we’ve put into securing our futures won’t be capable of withstanding the overwhelming suddenness of change. Tragedy is beyond our control. Chaos is outside our ability to manage as it is beyond the realm of plans and organization. Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person, sudden life changes impact us all similarly. We struggle, we deny, we overthink and worry, we strive to find balance that stops the threat to sanity. No matter who we are or what we believe, we are all created beings and will face such days.
The answer of how to be prepared for and handle such a time is only found in relationship with God. He is the Answer. Whether you reach for Him during the time of struggle or partner with Him prior, He is the power that will see you through. Come close to God today. Knock on the door of His mansion. Seek a relationship with your Creator. Let His qualities, the very essence of Him, fill and comfort you. As a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God becomes established, you will grow in trust of Him and His will. When the sudden changes of life strike, you will have a Rock to stand on, a peace that passes all understanding, and sound guidance through haze and storm. No amount of personal planning and effort can compare as that is created by us. Only the presence of the Creator can calm the storm and straighten the confused path that chaos creates.
The day ended, no different than it had begun really. I brushed my teeth, contemplating how change is happening without me being yet aware. God works all things together to accomplish His will. This takes time. It takes a seemingly unrelated string of happenings to bring about God’s will. That takes years of various circumstances occurring, intertwining at some point, culminating in results that alter our lives. And many times things must appear far worse before they get better. I trust Him.
Though God’s will for my life back then was unlike the picture I’d had, trusting Him made all the difference in the world. He was with me when the earthly expectations of life faltered. He held me and led me through uncomfortable waters. The blessings He suggested I could enjoy have been realized. They aren’t in material, emotional, or financial gains. My blessings are experienced in this amazing relationship with a God who loves me. It’s abstract, intangible, supernatural, but oh so real.
Life doesn’t happen with a happily ever after slogan splashed across it. That just isn’t reality for most people. I’d imagine it isn’t for anyone. However, for those who keep their eyes on the Lord, there is a peace that makes the highs and lows of chaos nonexistent. In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, but with God at your center, you will not be shaken. Your life will not be derailed by tragedy. May you be filled to overflowing with the light of God, enjoy His comfort during times of change, and trust His will, regardless of circumstances.
“Thanks for your advice, but I’ll do just fine learning from my own mistakes.” If I didn’t say them out loud, those words were screaming in my head. My mother had shared another story from her past meant to enlighten and encourage me to skip the same mistakes she’d made. She was parenting, but much like most teenagers, I was quite brilliant. I didn’t need direction from anyone else, especially my mother.
Well, here I am thirty-ish years later in the same situation with my own children. “I really think you’ll notice the difference if you eat better,” I’d said. Instantly the eye-roll and irritation emanating from my young adult daughter was felt, if not seen. It’s much the same response I get from all my children when I offer advice from the many life-lessons I’ve learned. I shrug and pray for the patience to be quiet…now and the next time I want to offer my thoughts. Which reminds me of the serenity prayer I quoted in my video message: Sons and Daughters of the King, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”
Can we change those we love? Should we try to change them? How much energy, worry, and control should we exert on the decisions of those we care for? Over the course of my child-rearing years, I’ve learned that we, as parents, aren’t really in control. I’ve realized that we can’t fulfill any promise to keep our children safe from harm. It’s clear that many influences occur in our children’s lives that either we’re unaware of or painfully wish had never happened.
During my early parenting years, God spoke to my heart. He was present, offering peace and easing my mind. His strength gave aid to my defeated soul. He offered wisdom and direction, clarifying my role in my children’s lives. You see, God is the only One who is in control. He is the Creator, and these children are His. He does allow bad things to happen. We (you and I) grow, learn, and change largely based on the struggles we face and endure. Our children are no different. If He has intentions that my children experience things I strive for them to avoid, He has His reasons. His will never fails.
Struggling to control a child’s direction and filling with anxiety when they don’t listen wastes energy, causes faith to falter, and fills us with stress. Looking at life’s circumstances through a belief in God and His will, even for our children, allows us freedom. We gain the ability to let go and entrust them to Him.
That doesn’t mean that we stop parenting. However, remaining constantly in communication with God, seeking His wisdom, and trusting His will allows two things to happen: 1) We are comforted when things don’t go the way we’d hoped, and 2) Our children see us in peace during moments where chaos is expected or present. It is a quiet visual of relationship for others to witness, rather than ranting that these difficult times or bad choices are not what we or God would want. When we keep our eyes on God, we step out of being a factor in or source of the chaos itself and become a vessel of peace.
We can relate to our children. After all, we often sense God’s direction in our lives and respond much like an adolescent to a parent, “I’ll do just fine, Lord, learning from my own mistakes.” As you know, life would be so much easier if we’d heed God’s advice. Let me encourage you to come close to God and grow in that relationship. His direction may, at times, be difficult, but the beauty of what He is creating is worth it, and the peace He imparts on the journey gives us strength to endure.
Watch what God can do in your child’s life. When we co-parent with Him, we experience peace in the midst of chaos. Witness the difference that peace in your own parenting can make for those in your life. Though some things take time to change, you can be sure that when you entrust your children to Him, He’ll do a great job. Be a quiet but powerful force of faith in your child’s corner. They will benefit!
John 8:31“….If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
I woke sobbing. My heart was broken. My brother had committed suicide rather than face the consequences of old actions newly exposed. It was clear that he’d been hiding behind years of lies and alcohol which now made sense. It was a dream, but it was so vivid that I was shuddering with sorrow for the lack hope that he had. I knew what he’d been missing.
Many people walk in deep despair, one bad day away from giving up, hope already stale and crumbling. In examining all the stepping stones crossed to reach such a desperate vantage point, tragedy certainly has a foothold and is deeply rooted. Misfortune comes in many forms, the results often kept hidden to avoid judgement or consequence. Lies are laid down, one at a time, building a wall behind which to keep secrets concealed, assuring survival.
How many people have a plan of what to do should truth be exposed? How many people are convinced their lies keep them out of trouble? How many people believe they can foresee the difficulties that may overwhelm should truth be uncovered? How desperate are we to avoid that possibility?
Shame…it’s dirty in more than name and controlling in nature. Satan uses it not so sparingly when casting his net, seeking for those who are easily swayed and quick to cower from it. The devil’s victims are convinced that the judgement by others if their darkness was brought to light is equally matched with the consequences law brings, human or Spiritual. Who could survive either? Why would someone try?
I wrote The Truth Will Set You Free based on that dream and the hopelessness many are burdened with. I know the answer and pray many who struggle have the answer revealed to them before they can’t cope anymore. Christ is the answer. That’s all. At the risk of sounding callous, it’s simple. There are no certain number of steps required to reach healing. There is no amount of money that can cleanse you of the shame that’s buried. Freedom comes by believing in and knowing Christ.
You see, He is the Word that you should seek a relationship with and continue focusing on. Keep your eyes on Him and talk to Him about anything He puts on your heart. As you grow in that relationship, you will come to know Him, and He is, in fact, Truth itself. He, Jesus, the Truth, is the only thing that can set you free.
In some instances, through the course of your relationship, He may put it on your heart to expose the earthly truths that have hurt you. You won’t be alone on this journey. Christ is with you, and God has a plan that is for your benefit. If that comes to be the case, exposing truths that Satan has used to keep you in his control becomes freeing in many ways. A weight lifts as Satan’s grasp falters and fails. In some instances, the close connection with your Savior may be all you need to heal the hurts that have scarred your soul. In either case, regardless of the scenario God leads you through, He is the Answer and The Truth that Will Set You Free!
Today is the second year anniversary of the official release of my third novel, The Truth Will Set You Free. I pray it has a strong impact, clearly illustrates our need for hope, and points readers to Christ who is that hope. You can read the first chapter, check it out, or purchase it here. God bless you.