Peace, be still

When you can’t do anything, what can you do? Simply… nothing! How do any of us know what to do next? The stimuli to act either come from outside us or inside us: demands of routine, our dependents or work duties – what I have in my diary or on a list – or, much better, from inner decisions (or perhaps non-decisions!) as I seek to live out of my inner self…

Yes, I know I am far too concerned with all this psychological internal working, always analysing and making new rules for myself as I attempt to ‘do better’ – or even as I try to ‘relax and enjoy life’ more!?!  It comes from way back, the way I grew up and was formed and parented: no point condemning myself for it… but I would like to undo some of the knots and live in a bit more freedom! Just because someone is blind to their motives or personality traits it doesn’t make them more free or somehow a ‘better person’!  Equally, the ancient Greek maxim ‘Know Thyself’ can according to wikipedia, ‘be applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are’ (sounds like Paul saying ‘let each one think of himself with sober judgement’ in Romans 12v3) or ‘as a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude’. As for Shakespeare’s, ‘To thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man’ – Polonius’ famous speech in Hamlet -or even Jesus’ ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself‘ (how can you if you don’t?) – they are all grist to the psychologist’s mill  🙂

But I was talking about those internal workings and making good choices about how to live. For instance, a few days ago I ‘decided’ I would give up facebook for the 30 days of November: one part of me thought this a laudable fast, a good discipline to stop wasting time and get on with more serious matters during this 2 months ‘to myself’. It didn’t take long for a couple of friends to appeal to the facebook-loving side of me – the silly banter and fun (LOL!), the sense of connection and extra colour it brings to the day – an outlet and often an encouragement… OK, maybe I could just spend less time on it?  Maybe… all or nothing is often easier – that’s what addicts find!  Then the guilt comes in – ‘you are addicted’ ‘you can’t keep to your decisions – failure!’ I really set myself up.  All I was really doing was punishing myself – expecting too much, making an internal decision that was coming from anywhere but grace.

How can we know when it is the voice of God? We can’t really…! It’s true – it is only by faith and by practise. I usually choose to believe it is God if it sounds like Him and will speak and act on it rather than sit on it and say ‘It’s just me’ – presumptuous you may think. But the one who gives the word is not the one who gets to test it and if I hold back… that is definitely not faith!  That’s why we do need others’ opinions and to be humble enough to make ourselves accountable and willing to be examined. Looking back I have often ‘decided’ to do things for what seem to me very good reasons but now I get the impression of the Lord smiling indulgently and saying ‘Alright then, we’ll do that if you want – I am always with you’ 😉 I have often bitten off more than I can chew – but He turns it all for good and teaches me through it.  The best decisions, the anointed ones, come when the idea was His to start with!

Peace is a good place to start – the only place to start.  Peace is Joy resting and Joy is Peace dancing. It’s the place where we can find restoration (Psalm 23) and rediscover Hope, the anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6v19); it’s the foundation stone for Faith and the ‘light when all other lights have gone out’ (that’s Earendil, the gift from Galadriel that Frodo uses as his weapon in Shelob’s lair, for non-LOTR buffs) Peace is the umpire blowing the whistle in our consciences, leading us in the right way, along with her sister Grace.  How we have experienced this in recent months! The Lord is a faithful shepherd and Goodness and Mercy follow us… look behind you – there they are!

Light in the darkness

And when I don’t manage to stay at peace? Well as a song I have recently heard says, ‘When it all falls apart like it tends to do sometimes – I am loved‘.  That’s the bottom line! I can do nothing – except rest in that love. As a facebook friend (LOL!) said to me this morning, ‘Our lives this year have been like being in a boat in a storm and we can either scream at it or learn to be still in it.’  Can I be secure and trusting enough to fall asleep in the storm-tossed boat – or at least have confidence in the One who is asleep in the boat? That screaming at the storm was what was happening when I blogged last night – and it’s amazing that there is also grace to let it all out when necessary!  Storms come in life and it’s OK to shout “Lord, save me!” like Peter did when he looked down – but don’t look down! The morning brings more peace – the wind has died: it’s OK, all these silly little things will pass. Perhaps sleep itself is a sign and a gift of quiet trust: I can rest in the boat and let the storm inside me be still…

I could feel ashamed about all this, because surely our domestic dramas cannot bear any kind of comparison with the current meltdown in the Greek economy that threatens to engulf the Eurozone – nor atrocities in the Congo, the suffering in Thailand, famine in Africa? Likewise, you may think that your cares and burdens cannot stand alongside the enormity this family face, living with our son’s terminal cancer diagnosis: but ‘we all have to carry our own load’ (Galatians 6v5) and this is what the grace is given for – we have grace for ours and there is grace for yours, however big or small, enough manna every day for each household of faith: ‘some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed’ Exodus 16v17-18. You can’t keep it overnight – it’s new every morning! There is never grace for tomorrow so stop worrying about that: it is a daily journey of relationship and faith, as in ‘Father! Give us this day our daily bread!’

So I have been thinking, in the peace of this morning, about the promise given – about what is is all for‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’  2 Corinthians 4v17. Our light and momentary afflictions are achieving a weight of glory kabodPut them in the scales together – the glory weighs more!  That is God’s economy – His currency – the treasure in heaven.  In fact the whole of 2 Corinthians 4  argues this so beautifully – good old Paul; the Scriptures lift our hearts and eyes to the truth – even better than facebook 😉

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’.

A good reminder. Perhaps I should give the old apostle a bit more room to advise me how to live in this seen realm of the here and now, with all the decisions and choices we all have to make – he was not so heavenly-minded as to be no practical use.  In fact the rest of that Galatians 6 passage ties in well with my meandering post – lots of helpful pointers for the seeker after righteousness and peace…

‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load.  Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor’  Galatians 6v1-6

Here’s to receiving instruction, provocation, encouragement and correction in how to do life – and when to simply stop trying so hard! Peace, be still…

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About Sally Ann

True-story teller - words and pictures
This entry was posted in Life choices, Quotable quotes, The process. Bookmark the permalink.

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