Three words. Peace. Be. Still.
Enough to calm a storm and put a few frightened disciples at ease, these are the words that I breathe. In….peace…..And out…..be still…..
I don’t know what you, the reader, are going through right now, but for me and others near and dear to me, it’s been a season of white-knuckling it to stay in the boat.
In my first week in a new job, my manager announced to the entire staff in a group email, “Monica will be filling in for me while I’m away on vacation and will be happy to help in any way she can.” Huh? Monica would simply have been happy to know beforehand. But instead of going into panic mode, I decided to meet the challenge head-on and use it as an opportunity to prove my competence and integrity as a leader.
The first days had been anything but promising. Rumors of how long this one would last had already been whispered around the department and I was asking myself the same question in light of the hopeless atmosphere in which I found myself. Still, I was determined to be like Caleb; one of the ten spies who chose to be strong and courageous and see hope and victory while the others saw defeat. Like the ancient Israelites, I was viewing the giants blocking entrance to the supposed promised land.
As if this transition wasn’t enough to throw me off course, the winds changed direction; this time coming from the west. My children who had left Ontario for the promise of new beginnings and adventure in British Columbia, were being hit by the gale-force winds of deception, betrayal, and loneliness. More bad reports from the remaining eight spies. Pftt.
Add to this a random shooting in a part of our city that left two dead and thirteen injured, a friend in California who was forced to evacuate her home because of the devastating fires, and another acquaintance whose son is on life support following what should have been a routine surgery, I was left feeling like the disciples in the boat, shaking Jesus awake, demanding, Don’t you care if we die?!
Turns out, He does.
The first life-preserver was tossed into the female staff locker room of all places. I was just about to walk out when one of the staff members of whom I was “in charge” stopped me to announce that she needed the following day off.
“I need to be off Thursday–possibly Friday,” she began, tears rimming her eyes.
“My husband and I are going for IVF. I’m scheduled to have my eggs harvested,” her lips trembled and tears began to flow in earnest along with the stress that each tear contained.
“I’m a praying mama,” I heard myself say, much to my own surprise. “Would it be okay if I pray for you?” Not answering in words, she put her arms around me and tears fell upon my shoulder as I spoke life over her barrenness and asked God to open her womb to receive a baby. At the writing of this post, it’s too early to say what the result will be in terms of a little one entering the world, although thus far, things seem to be going in a positive direction. Regardless of the outcome, I do know a seed of another kind was planted. New rumors are being spread about me, and as spoken of in a previous blog, Reputation vs. Character I’m totally okay with that.
From the west, the winds of reconciliation have been blowing. Once determined that she didn’t need a mother–specifically me– my daughter called me in tears.
“I’m so sorry mum,” she sobbed. “I got a taste of how badly I have treated you and when I realized how much I must have hurt you, I felt awful!”
“I’ve already forgiven you,” I assured her.
“Yeah, I know you’re all over this forgiveness stuff, but I just needed to say it.”
While I haven’t stepped into the fullness of my Promised Land, this is a good start. Like the disciples of Mark 4:39 this season has been about trusting God in the storms, and there have been many, it would seem. In all of it I’m realizing that there is nothing I can do in my own strength. There are no variables that can be manipulated in any of the situations that I, or those I care about find ourselves in; there is no “Plan B”. I either place my trust in God or I don’t. Over and over again, I’m discovering that the best strategy it to take shelter in the secret place. Sometimes it’s a time of quiet reflection, meditating on His promises with hope and renewed faith. Other times it’s more of a battle; contending through declaration and decrees of what He has already promised. In the midst of it all, I choose to remember the story of some new believers in the middle of the sea with a storm blowing around them while their only Help slept, seemingly oblivious. When He awakens to their cries, He simply raises His hand to the wind and commands, “Peace–be still!” and the winds stop immediately and peace is restored. He asked them then, as He asks us now, “Where is your faith?” If we truly believe that He is in us and we are in Him, we can raise our hands to the storms around us and make the same command, believing as Hebrews 13:8 says:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
As I’m learning daily to put my trust in Him, He has shown infinite patience with me in the process, reminding me that I am His kid and He loves me. Today I went to the post office to pick up a prize I had won in a group on social media:
Coincidence? I think not.
I’d like to think that I am the shell nestled in the centre of this art work. A little ragged from being tossed about in the sand of affliction, but smoothed by the waves of His mercy washing over me again and again.
Yes and amen….