When Everything Flies in the Face of Your Peace

When Everything Flies in the Face of Your Peace

By 7:45 the temperature is nearing 80 and the Florida sun beats down from a clear sapphire sky on my morning walk. Nevertheless I find it energizes me to walk alongside the lake and breathe in the summer morning. Especially today when peace is scarce and thoughts agitated.

At the end of the road I see the cranes – they’re almost always there to greet me. Florida Sandhills are endangered and smaller than the Great Lakes Sandhills that migrate here in the winter. These two are happily picking through a neighbor’s grass, looking for mole crickets, grubs and earthworms. Noisy birds, the female makes two calls for every one from the male. Typical, I think with a smile.

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Breaking the rhythm of my walk, I stop a minute to enjoy their vigilant search for food, bald scarlet heads bobbing up and down and awkward gait carrying them alongside the road.

From my right I see a movement and realize there’s a third crane whose ocher color blends so well with her surroundings I didn’t see her at first. Her rattling call is haunting and beautiful but I notice she is lame. She holds her right leg up and isn’t eating much.

And just like that, I see Dori, struggling to go on in face of cancer, bravely trying to muster up some energy for life.

What happens to your peace when life becomes a series of troubling, agitating questions that no one can answer? And worse, it seems like God’s on vacation in Tahiti right when you need Him most.

Pat Answers and Old Clichés

Oh, I know the Bible verses that say we can cast our cares on Him because He cares, or the admonition to not let our hearts be troubled. But what do those words mean when it comes to these moments? How do I go on living when part of me is dissolving away?

If God is really there – present in our greatest moment of need – there has to be something tangible we can do. This has been haunting me like the cry of that bird.

When I get back from my walk I turn to those familiar words in John 14. I want to see if I can read them again, slowly and with intention. Maybe I’ve missed something.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you…I am the way…” John 14:1-6 NASB

What if there’s a secondary meaning to these words? What if it’s not about dying, going to heaven, and having an elaborate mansion bequeathed to us by Jesus?

I stare at the words and then go to my Strong’s Concordance app and started looking up the words individually. Here’s what I discover:

  • Do not let is a directive. It means it’s up to you and me to do this.
  • troubled means “disturbed or agitated”
  • mansions is better translated “dwelling places” as it is here in the NASB. This one thing alone opens a world of difference in interpretation
  • I go to prepare a place for you – this is Jesus’ part. It’s His promise. We can count on it.
  • How do we find our way to that place? I am the way.

Here’s my takeaway from that search.

  1. Peace is a choice. I can choose not to let bad news, lack of money, health issues or family problems trouble me to the point of agitation and loss of peace. It’s my job to maintain my own level of peace.
  2. There is a God who loves me and has prepared a special place for me to run when I am troubled, scared, or even sick. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High? will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1). Could this be the dwelling place He’s talking about in John 14? Is my dwelling place the Presence of God?
  3. If He says He is the way there, don’t I have a choice to believe Him or not? I mean, He’s either the way, the truth and the life, or He is a liar. There can be no middle ground.
  4. In the end, it’s not really up to God to do anything. He’s provided the means for continual peace no matter what happens next and I have the choice to dwell there or be troubled and agitated.

It’s such a snare to torture ourselves over what we cannot help and did not foresee. But if the Presence of Christ is a safe dwelling place and He carries with Him always that lovely Balm of Gilead (Jer 8:22), we can be assured of a healing – if not here, then in eternity.

Like the Sandhill Crane this morning, we are grieving as a family because one of us is injured. But my heart tells me that if we can allow our present grief to be simply an open wound before Him, Christ will come, pour in that sweet ointment and touch it, and in due time, it will be healed.

He is all we have. There is no other way. But I promise you, it is enough.

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Comments

  1. Donna Thompson :

    Wisdom beyond what humans could ever conjure up! This is so “of God” I cannot even begin to tell you. Words for you, words for me in my situation and especially words I am going to copy and give to my roommate who is beginning to “settle” in her mind that she is just “this way” – meaning she is “just” always going to be depressed, that nothing helps etc. etc. I so pray God’s words via your computer will mean something to her. She isn’t a fighter and so it’s hard for her to accept this. She expects God to do everything for her – but as is so clearly said, He already has! Thanks Cathee! Love you much even though we don’t stay in touch too often. The bond is never broken. Donna

    • You are right about that steel band that holds us. Forever friends. Love your courage and continual servant heart for others Donna.

  2. I cannot cry at work! You bring to light our suffering, but you also bring to light where Heaven is, in the presence of our King, Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, our Almighty God. Not only do we have the promise of Heaven on the other side; but we have the promise of His presence here! We are all dying; but the difference is, is that we have an eternal hope through Him! A dwelling place both here and in Heaven! Our life here is brief. God says if we love this world and the things of this world His love is not in us. So, keep your focus on Heaven, looking forward to an eternity with a loving Father! What a blessing!! He is a Father of good gifts! What we see as sorrow, He may see as joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory! Because as each one of us reaches the gate, I know His heart is full of pure JOY! This is why he made us to fellowship with Him. He made us because He LOVES us! My prayers are with you and your family! May God surround you with His loving peace, and give you back your JOY! (This prayer is for Dori too (for your whole family, Cathee).

  3. Beatifully said!!! And just what I needed today to confirm this business of dealing with “bad news”.

  4. Betty Lesane :

    We keep looking everywhere for what we need…. He is right here. Jesus. All we need.
    Hugs. This was so well written.

  5. Mary Poulsen :

    Your beautiful words and the depth of your faith are a blessing to me. May the peace of Christ dwell in you richly as you choose to dwell in His presence and find peace. My prayers go out to Dori and all of your families during this trying time. xoxoxo

  6. I know many things are easy to say, but walking them out with grace is well accomplished by a select few who know God as friend, savior, strong tower. The comparison to the wounded bird touches my heart. But not nearly as much as Dori’s fighting spirit. Every time that I wonder if it’s too much to conquer, I remember this girl and her family whose collective face is set like flint. Isaiah 50:7. The enemy is defeated. We wait for the manifestations to be seen in the world of five senses. My prayers are with you, maintaining the defenses, breaking through to victory!

  7. Great insight, Cath. How great is our Father? He not only gave us the free gift of eternal life because He IS the way but He allows us to crawl up in His lap and dwell with Him now!

    How blessed we are. If we could just remember these truths all the time!

  8. Beautiful words, as usual. So reassuring when trouble overwhelms enough to make us feel like we are drowning. Our Lord surely IS the way. We need to remain focused on His path, which is difficult during times when we seem to gasp for air. Thanks.

  9. Cathee…it was so good to see you this past Sunday. I didn’t get a chance to ask you about Dori…I am so sorry for this latest curve in life’s journey. Please know that you will ALL continue to inhabit my prayers daily. Your heart, your words, your faith, your life speak SO eloquently of Christ’s indwelling spirit. I am moved beyond words. Love to you and the family. Lynnie

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