Photo by Robin Blake
We are living in difficult times. Evil is the main course on a menu that has enough choices to confuse, snag, and destroy even the most discerning traveler. People are hurting. The percentage of the population on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medicine is at an all time high.
Every day my heart is breaking for those who have lost loved ones, been diagnosed with horrible diseases, lost there homes, given up on their marriages and the list goes on and on. Protests, acts of terrorism, hatred, racism, and anger fill the news of each day. Even the earth itself is in turmoil with earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, wildfires, mudslides, and hurricanes. The chasm between gluttony and starvation, wealth and poverty, freedom and chains, and love and hate deepens and yet we are all just a breath away from either side. The earth and its inhabitants are crying out for answers. We are longing for just a little peace and quiet, a little rest for our weary, battled souls.
So my question comes as I think on these things. “Where, oh God, is the still water? When the storms are raging, when the spirit is in turmoil, when the world is tumbling out of control, where is the quiet water You promised? I am searching but I can’t find it.” I cry out again in despair, “Of God, I can’t find peace! I am drowning in the waves of the storm.”
Then, from the One who knows me better than I know myself and loves me more than can be measured, comes an answer I never expected. “My child, you will never be able to find the quiet water. You can search earnestly your entire life and you will never find it on your own.”
So the conversation began. “But God, I want to be able to run to the still, quiet water whenever I am afraid or confused or tossed by the angry waves. I need peace God! I need a break. I need some rest here. You promised still water and now You tell me I can’t find it?”
Sometimes do you ever imagine God just lovingly shaking His head at you and looking into your heart, as He waits patiently for you to just take a breath and let the Holy Spirit explain things to your soul? “Look at my words through David,” He says.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:1-2
“I am the Creator of the Universe and I created you. I am the only one who knows where the still water is for you. You will never find it on your own. But I love you. I have provided a way for you. Take my hand and I will lead you there. Lay down in my green pasture, stroll with Me beside the quiet waters.”
Photo by Robin Blake
Oh my precious friends, the struggle is real. The evil one battles to steal our peace one anxiety ridden moment at a time. Our biggest mistake is that we try to battle alone. We worry about things over which we have no control and we try to fix things over which we have no power.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
If we could just learn to trust God for our provisions the way the Israelites had to trust Him for their daily manna. Only take what you need for today and trust that He will provide for tomorrow as well. What a concept.
It’s all about faith. Do we truly believe that God keeps His promises? Do we trust that His words to us are true? If so, then we have to release ourselves from the struggle. Take His hand. Follow His lead. Make His path our path. Stop frantically searching and simply follow.
You and I can search for the still/quiet water, we can strive to create peace in our homes, our places of work, our own inner selves, but we will never accomplish it on our own. I know I keep repeating this point but I am teaching this to myself as I share it with you. Read the following scripture and listen to its words.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
I cannot create my own peace. No amount of fengshui (yes I had to look up the spelling) or yoga or incense can provide the peace that I need. Christ gives us His own peace, the peace that passes all understanding. His peace enters overwhelmingly and unexplainably when we take the hand of our Creator and give the Holy Spirit a dwelling place in our hearts. People who have experienced it will tell you that it can come when the presence of peace makes absolutely no sense in a situation. It comes in the midst of excruciating pain, in deep sorrow and loss, at times of great joy, in situations of fear, and when all hope seems to be lost.
I would like to share a few more scriptures with you.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Psalm 37:7
Don’t be afraid to be still before the Lord. His desire is for you to know Him; really know Him, and to experience His presence. Put your hand in His and just be still.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:5
Don’t be afraid to be silent. Listen. Is He speaking to you through the bird’s song? Is He letting you feel His presence in the touch of the wind? Do you hear Him in the thunder of the storm? If your life is too noisy, turn off the volume. Be silent. Be aware of His presence. Take His hand and sit with Him in silence.
“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39
Don’t be afraid to accept God’s gift of peace. He can calm the storm, or He can calm you int he midst of the storm. Take His hand and stroll by the still/quiet water in your own soul.
The world’s definition of peace is passive. It is the absence of hatred and war. It is a country, organization, or person with no strife – either internal or external. The Christian’s definition of peace should be much different. Our peace, as Christ followers, is a state of harmony in our very soul, a calmness that is not disturbed by anything, a sense of quiet even in the midst of chaos. There may be storms raging, waves crashing, and the winds of death and destruction may be all around us, but we are not shaken, our peace is not stolen from us because we are anchored to the one and only God of the universe. For me, for us, those who have accepted Christ as our Savior and are filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the still water that Christ offers is already within us. You and I have only to take His hand and let Him lead us there.
Photography is Courtesy of my friend Robin Blake