Purposeful Faith

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Peace & Leaving the World Behind

peace wild rest

Post By: Angela Parlin

We should all spend time outside each day. I don’t know about you, but I spend too many hours indoors.

As a remedy, sometimes I work at the kitchen table near the propped-open door to the deck. Hearing the wind rustling through the trees and birds fighting over seeds at the feeder does something for my heart. It’s not all the way outside, but it’s close.

Long ago, I posted this poem, one of my favorites, on the bulletin board at my desk, the one I don’t actually work at very often.

The Peace of Wild Things 

By Wendell Berry

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

I wonder if so often when we misplace our peace, if the answer is simply to spend more time outside.

I say I wonder, but I already know what kind of person I become when I spend extended minutes under the sky. There I see the rest of the beauty, and it’s not that I forget the chaos of the day. It’s not that the challenges disappear or the discouragement dissipates.

Out there, we realize we can walk away for a bit and the whole thing doesn’t all fall down.

Ohhh, right–it wasn’t really me holding everything together.

In the presence of still water or even angry waves, we remember again we have no control over the things we fear.

We remember Who does control all things—He Who is good and true and beautiful and eternal.

Who is acquainted with all this growing old and wearing away and falling down and rising up again. He Who endures forever and ever, Who is seen at the center of all this worldly beauty.

The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. Psalm 118:27

It takes a few minutes, but I confess the truth. I’ve been taxing my life again, imagining losses that haven’t even happened. Why do I continue to repeat this?

Once again, I return to the wild. I take a walk in the woods past the yard, thick with green and a melody of snapping sticks underfoot. I imagine snakes hiding out like sharks in the ocean, while hoping they’re at least as rare.

Somehow I’ve left the rest of the world behind me. I come into the peace of wild things, and their holy message sinks ever deeper to my core.

Like Berry, I rest in the grace of the world—and I’m free.

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From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

Is Showy Christianity Leading You Astray?

Showy Christianity

Entertain me.
Delight me.
Distract me.

We are on a constant hunt to find pleasure in all we do.

We are seeking a God that is palatable, tasty and pleasurable. We go to big conferences, with big screens and big pastors.  All is good as long as it points to Christ, right?

This makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder whether the fan-fare would be a delight or a fright to Jesus?

We know it is all about his glory for his story.
We know it is all about his name and not our fame.

But, somehow the famous draw us, the powerful captivate us and the big lights lure us.

Is lowly and humble Jesus found against the big lights of Christianity?

Is he found in the lights of the big show or in the shadow of the big Father?

I can’t help but think that when we demand church be an experience, we miss the experience that is Jesus. We miss the stillness of a moment where it is just us and him. We miss the quiet heart that says, I don’t need all that – I just need you. We miss the convictions of the Holy Spirit at work within us, because we are too focused around us and we can’t hear what he is saying to us.

Entertainment becomes an opiate to hide us from reality.
A crutch to keep our anxious minds in motion.
Novocaine to dull our suffering.

But, perhaps suffering is just what God has set forth for us to feel in the moment, because it will move us towards deeper love and faith.

It’s not the big lights we need to keep our eyes off of ourselves, but simply the light of Christ to shines truth into the hidden places of our aching hearts.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

But, for us entertainment seekers, silence, quietness and stillness of mind scares us. It’s uncomfortable.

Instead, we become so focused on what others are saying and doing, that we often miss what God wants us to say or do for another. We expect the producers to make the show good enough for us to consume and when we don’t we leave disappointed.

But, did Jesus seek to put on a show to make Christianity glow?

He didn’t seek big followers in order to make new followers.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:17)

This woman went alone. She went with her thoughts. She went with a simple bucket, most likely. But, what she got was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus, who stepped away from the other disciples, away from the crowds to meet a woman in a simple way, through simple words, that would simply change her heart forever.

Jesus’ approach was simple.

He simply approached man with straightforward truth to let the power of the living Word transform dying hearts.

Jesus knew the Word of the Lord is more than sufficient – and more than capable – to accomplish all it is set forth to accomplish.

He withdrew from the crowds for quiet prayer with his Father. He calls us to do the same – to talk without noise, without pretense and without the show being our idol.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps. 150:1-2)

Our call is to praise the Lord, to seek his soul, to seek his face.

Perhaps it doesn’t come down to what others do, or what people offer us, or who says what or how many people are at whatever event or the amount of lights, but it comes down to how we enter into church and how we approach the Father.

It comes down to who and what we follow.
It comes down to what we expect, to what we demand and what we seek.

It comes down to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37) and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt. 22:39)

 

It comes down to – it’s all about Him.

 

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