She was in a dark ally, all alone. She often came here to think.
There was nothing beautiful about this place. It was dark, cold, a large puddle at the entrance of the ally and graffiti all over the brick walls.
The girl, whom I will call Annie, sat down and cried. She felt extremely broken and wasted. Her face was full of scars, scarred from years of sin and guilt, scarred from people who had called themselves her friends. After awhile, Annie slowly made her way back home.
Once Annie arrived at her home, she quietly slipped into her room to find refuge, but all she found was tears and sadness. Suddenly, she heard the front door open and in I walked, for I being her cousin was a frequent at the house. Annie quickly ran out of her room to greet me, as I sauntered in, I perceived a pierced, sad and dejected look in my cousin’s eyes. I also concluded that she was trying to hide the wretchedness of her life from me. Did she not know that her smile and cheerful voice could not deceive me? For the eyes of an individual are the windows of his soul. Instead of greeting her with a normal, “Hello Annie! How are you?” I had a notion to tell her something, which I knew would greatly mystify and vex her. With that thought, I seized her hands in both of mine and told her very quietly, in the most serious tone I could muster, “Annie, turn around before it’s too late!” Thus, I dropped her hands and left the house, for with my mission being complete, I deemed it wise for me to withdraw from the house and make for my own home.
Lately the phrase “Nothing lasts forever” has been stuck in my head and invading my days. Not necessarily in situations that I love and want to stay in, and not in a negative “I’m so sad that this moment won’t last forever” kind of way, but more for comfort and for clarity in so many uncertain, uncomfortable, and uneasy situations.
It’s something that brings me such peace to think about — the fact that there is nothing in life that will last forever. No hardships, rough seasons, or times that aren’t fun. It’s easy to get trapped in the moments. Feeling stuck in a bad place or moment. What helps me so much is remembering that the season that I’ve stepped into isn’t forever, and that it’s just that – a season. So I can breathe easy knowing that my heart and my mind are safe in the hands of Jesus because the season that I’m in, that I feel like I’m “enduring” isn’t something that will last forever. Whatever season I’m in is a chance that I get to choose how I respond and react to moments that will soon turn into memories.
Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Recently I’ve been focusing on these verses in Matthew 6. It’s such an inviting, peaceful, and reassuring feeling knowing that my Jesus has tomorrow all figured out. All the mess that I’ll be walking through, the fear that I will feel, the dreams that I will unveil…He sees it all and He knows how to handle my life. All I have to do is be still and know that He is God and He is good.
“Let this encourage those of you who belong to Christ: the storm may be tempestuous, but it is only temporary. The clouds that are temporarily rolling over your head will pass, and then you will have fair weather, an eternal sunshine of glory. Can you not watch with Christ for one hour?”
– Williams Gurnall
For about two years, I had a predisposition toward fear. I felt powerless to the consequences of transition. Change felt unsafe, so I coped. I partnered with anxiety to anticipate areas of potential pain. Then, I attempted to control the outcome of everything I could get my hands on. Forfeiting wonder and an appetite for adventure, I settled into the role of “risk-manager.” I’d get a new toy and leave it packaged to guarantee it stayed safe from harm. As I grew up, I attempted to do the same thing with my heart.
Control is an ineffective and destructive method of survival; it’s the way of the orphan.
Control gives a hollow guarantee of a specific outcome. It validates the underlying belief that change is bigger than us.
I’ve since come to understand the goal is not to build fortresses around our lives so we become immovable against the winds of change. We are not orphans who need to rage against transition in fear, fists in the air, dependent on control for comfort. We are sons and daughters. We can bravely accept the invitation in the shaking. Change creates opportunities to understand what things currently hold value in our hearts.
Change is the pause between the ending of one sentence and the beginning of the next.
Change is the pause between the ending of one sentence and the beginning of the next; the space between “glory” and “glory” where trust occasionally waivers. It’s the moment of truth, when the lights come on in the rooms of our hearts and uncover what we believe to be true about ourselves. May we lean in closer to find our definition through His voice. Change permits us to course-correct when we realize that winds of other voices have bent our sails away from “True North.”
Shifting is an inevitable part of the human experience. Movement means we’re alive. The winds of change will come, sometimes as a hopeful breeze and other times as a storm. But fear not, He is in the wind. He is unchanging, so we don’t have to be. We can anchor our hearts in the Immovable One.
In Mark 4, Jesus speaks peace to a storm and it ceases— and that’s amazing, but backtrack a little in the chapter. The story begins in the evening when Jesus invites the disciples to adventure with Him across the sea. When I imagine an evening boat trip with Jesus, it includes a gorgeous sunset, a meaningful conversation, and a cool breeze chilling my skin — reminding me that I’m alive in the moment. The disciples had quite a different experience. Jesus falls asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat while wind and waves nearly overtake their vessel. Water is filling the craft. The disciples frantically wake Him up and, likely in terror, one of them word-vomits the question, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” More often than not, I’m that guy on the boat.
When our family moved out to Gilroy a few years ago, I was in search of peace — I was tormented with anxiety. I needed things to make sense, and they didn’t make sense. I was the frantic disciple, overwhelmed by my circumstances and putting the nature of God on trial.
When we encounter circumstances that stretch beyond our understanding it’s easy to question the goodness of God. Anxiety often comes into play when we attempt to circumvent trust. We opt for controlling our circumstances because clinging to control feels so much easier than giving way to trust. The truth is, we can’t have peace and also live with a preconceived idea of what everything should look like. As much as we’d like it to be, peace is not in the outcome. Peace is a Person. Trusting the Prince of Peace is an invitation to not have to know everything.
His nature was never intended to be a variable in the equation we use to logic our way to answers.
While it’s normal to look for peace inside of understanding, if peace is dependent on our interpretation of circumstances, then peace will always waiver— we will always be environmentally sensitive. He’s invited us into something better. Bill Johnson said it so well: “If you want to have peace that passes understanding, you have to give up your right to understand everything.”
Trust is activated when we make ourselves vulnerable to who He says He is, beyond reason. That vulnerability could also be described as childlikeness: belief without the prerequisite of proof. It’s the key to inheriting the Kingdom. He left us the Comforter, the implication being that we’ll encounter circumstances in which we’ll need comforting. Once we’ve given up our idea of what everything should look like, we are free to live under the assumption that the Prince of Peace is intimately involved in everything that concerns us— with or without immediate evidence.
He’s Emmanuel, and that means every mystery is an invitation to discovery; every unanswered question is just some form of goodness not yet in full view.
Regardless of what chaos we encounter, His nearness is guaranteed. He’s on the boat. May we be the ones who embrace mystery over certainty; may we be marked by trust.
According to the dictionary, peace is defined as: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. While that may be a definition of peace, it should not be the definition we use when we face difficulty.
Through many seasons of my life, I’ve seen a great number of transitions in my home, family, friends, everything. I believe that peace is the reality of Heaven within you. As believers, the Prince of Peace dwells inside of us, giving us direct access to Heaven. So often, we forget to tap into our God given attributes, such as the fruits of the spirit, but when we do there is a rush, overflowing. Peace does not mean everything in life is going to be still, it means that despite the ebb and flow of circumstances, peace washes over you, like a river. Peace reassures you that you are safe in the middle of everything.
There is a story about some art students who were asked to paint a picture of their definition of peace. One student painted a very calm sea with a boat resting atop of it and another student painted a small bird sleeping in its nest during a raging storm. When asked about why they chose those interpretations, the student who painted the bird said, “peace isn’t everything being okay, it’s knowing that you’re going to be okay even though there may be danger roaring around you.”
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus sets the perfect example of peace. In the middle of the storm, He sleeps, knowing that the wind and the waves of the storm will not overtake Him and the disciples.
‘Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey Him!’’We can take a lesson from the disciples: cry out to God when you feel overwhelmed. When we feel like we are about to be swallowed by the sea of our circumstances, call His name. He hears us. He has the power to calm every storm or He may just hold our hand as we navigate the choppy waters.
In the middle of the storm, we can partner with insurmountable peace. He can give us the courage to say "it is well with my soul." The disciples give us the example of crying out when we feel lost, and Jesus shows us that because we are children of The Most High, we can simply tap into what He has placed within us. As people, we are prone to forget the power we have through Him, but that is why there are so many beautiful examples of it. When we forget, we are reminded that we have exactly what we need when we are living in His presence. We have peace like a river, gently engulfing us in His love, carrying us into the truth of safety.
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