One of the hallmarks of the events of 2020 for me is a sense of unrest and lack of peace in my soul. As I was thinking how to start our time together I tried to put some kind of concise word to what I find very unsettling in my daily life and I finally landed on “conflict.”
Whether it is in our home or out in public or on the forms of media that we have so much access to, conflict/debating/arguing/attacking…these things rip my soul apart and cause me to be anxious and distracted. While some seem to enjoy a good rousing conversation of ideas shared and no answers or solutions of consensus actually arrived upon, I stir and churn in my spirit and desire nothing more than to have everyone agree or pull the covers over my head as I drift off into some safe place away from the noise.
Neither of these are good options of course as the conflict of our day and age is only escalating and there is life that needs to be lived. The roller coaster of 2020 has been a rough ride for all – some more than others and if you have an ounce of compassion, you are not only feeling your own angst and pain, but absorbing a fair amount of so many others who are dealing with hard things right now. Add to this the ugly commercials and political shenanigans of two parties that seem more interested in being superior to the other than in explaining exactly how they think they can get us out of this mess…and well…I am spending a lot of time meditating on the truth of Scripture and praying and asking God to help us turn this shipwreck around.
Which is probably the best thing that has happened to me in a long while.
Because I realized of late that I have grown a bit ho-hum and lax in studying, really studying God’s Word.
With my stepping down from teaching, I also stepped down from study as I didn’t have that weekly lesson to prepare. I forgot that teaching is the outpouring of study, the end of the means…the means being chasing rabbit trails led by the Holy Spirit. I was relying on some devotionals to feed my soul. Devotionals are wonderful, but they are like cheese and crackers. They help stave off your hunger, but they will never be fully nourishing. They are just the extra before the real meal.
So I have been returning to the discipline of really studying Scripture and in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, God is working in me His peace. He doesn’t call us to study to punish us, He calls us to study because it is good for us.
I had a little incident yesterday where what I have been working into my soul, worked out into my day.
Around 4:00 I pulled into a gas station and realized this must be prime time for people heading home from work. Most of the pumps were occupied, but I saw there was one lane on the far side completely open.
As I circled around the full bays, an SUV that had come from the same street entrance behind me picked up the pace of approach. I don’t know if it was intentional, but this larger vehicle did a wild u-turn maneuver rather rapidly assuring its ability to back into the pumps I was headed for. I was alarmed to see it was coming at a pretty good rate of speed backwards into me as I was attempting to pull in to my spot.
Granted it then attempted to pull forward a bit to make room, but by this point what is fondly referred to here in our home as the “Lochner temper” had ignited. I felt hot rage rising in me at the injustice of this car not following me around and using the pump behind me when I pulled in, but instead whipping in for the win. I would not have done that, hence this driver’s choice was an affront to my sense of fair and righteous behavior.
As my heart rate increased, this SUV began to represent all the personalities of the smug and the oh-so-smart “winners” of this world system that exalts self and laughs at things that are wholesome and godly and pure.
And that’s when it clicked in me. Wholesome and godly and pure.
My rage…my anger…my rights..are not wholesome and godly and pure.
Quick as you please, I gently went around the obstacle. The peace of Christ overruled the temptation to be insulted by someone who may have not even intended insult. And even if he or she did do it intentionally and thoughtlessly, so be it. That’s on that one, not me.
I determined to just pull in behind another car and wait my turn, and low and behold…there was now an open bay for me to pull into.
The peace of surrender.
The peace of not having to win or be right or be first.
We will be assailed today by all manner of things that will seek to steal our peace. But if we will bow in surrender to the Prince of Peace…if we will live under the authority of His guidance and leading in OUR lives, we will have that peace that passes understanding and we will live with purpose and effectiveness for His Kingdom here on earth. We worship what we bow to. I am learning to bow to God, not the forces at work in this world.
My prayer for us today:
May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you!2 Thessalonians 3:16 The MSG
God bless you as you grow in surrender to Him alone <3