Purposeful Faith

Tag - contentment

Finding Lasting Peace: The Secret (That You Probably Are Not Doing)

Find lasting Peace

Wake up.  Drink coffee. Spend 5 minutes with God.  Rush to get ready.   Handle day’s work or home activities.  Drive.  Pay bills.  Have some difficult conversations.  Think about lunch.  Think about life.  Think about money. Dinner.  TV.  Think about health. Think about the future.  Brush teeth.  Think about family.  Think about worries.  Think about fears.  Sleep.  Wake up.  Repeat.

It is no wonder that we don’t feel “lasting peace”.  Life feels like a rat race that never ends.  And, our minds are like a gerbil that goes round and round and round in a wheel that is constantly spinning.

Day after day, we hurry hoping that something changes.  Hoping that maybe we will get enough, buy enough or eat enough, to make ourselves feel enough.  But, no matter how much we consume, life never seems to satisfy. 

Isn’t there more than this frustrating cycle?  Didn’t God intend for us to have lasting peace, more joy and more purpose?

The answer is yes.  He has so much more for us than worried rushed peace-less living.   

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

If we really want lasting peace, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about. 

Our thought processes determine our feelings and our actions. If we are worrying, fearing and consumed with things of this world, we will feel fearful.  We will lack lasting peace. If we are focused on God’s truth, what is noble, what is right by his eyes, things that are pure and lovely and admirable, we will embrace lasting peace.  We will live lasting peace.

It is no wonder that God tells us how to think and then he follows it up with “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9)

God calls on us to be obedient in our thoughts.  Not perfect, but obedient.  When we focus on what he values, he blesses us with himself and his presence.  We don’t need to reach for some new thing to fill us with peace or contentment. We need only to reach up to him.  God comes as the answer in our quest for lasting peace.  His requirement?  That we trust him at his word.   That we focus our minds. That we think and dwell on things that are uplifting and true.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

When we obey, we have a chance to witness God’s faithfulness.  He will come and grant us lasting peace in our hearts.   He will make himself at home within our mind because we have prepared it as holy ground for Him to reside.   As a result, we will find a place of safety, a place of refuge, a place of escape – as we sit in his presence.  

He will refresh us in him.   This is true and lasting peace.

God is the ultimate peacemaker.   This is who He is.

When the rat race has you running on empty, welcome him into your mind and let him fill you with his peace – that transcends all understanding.

 

Rules are His Tools

“Mikey, don’t stand on Maddie’s stroller.  Mikey, step down.  Michael, now!”  He looks at me and steps up higher and higher, until he starts to lose balance.  When I see the stroller tip backward and Mikey slam on to the ground, my heart drops.  If only he listened.

His sad eyes look up at me. Through the tears he asks, “Mommy, why?  Why did I fall? Why did you let me Mommy?”

I want to grab him and yell, “Because I told you to get down.  Why didn’t YOU listen to me?”  But instead I say, “I am sorry you fell.  I love you, little Mikey.  It is important to listen to mommy.  I am watching out for you when I tell you things. I want you to be safe.”  I give him a hug.

How often are we like Mikey?  How often do we push the boundaries just a little bit more?  We think, I can get away with this – I’ll be ok.  We want to do things our way.  We fool ourselves.   We think God isn’t watching.  We think he won’t punish us.  We think we can work our way around consequences with a little smart thinking.  We think that grace will just entirely cover us, so we are okay.  But, even though by grace we are secure in heaven and with God, consequences to our actions do arrive.  When they do, like Mikey, we often look up at God and say, “Why God?  Why did this happen? Why did you allow it?”

In many ways, we never grow up.  We are on the verge of tipping over our own life strollers because, in the moment, it feels worth it.  We step up, just a little higher, right to the very edge.  Why?  Because, many times, we view God’s commands as restrictions – rules – set in place to hold us back from fun, pleasure or relief.  These “rules” rain on our parade. We step up a little higher on our strollers; we take the risk.  Let’s see what happens!

Then, we down we fall.  We fall flat on our face and we feel hurt.  Like Mikey, we tend to miss the point of parental guidance entirely.

God lovingly, laid down directions for our lives to keep us in areas of safety.  He doesn’t want us to drive into places of fear, pain, and consequence.  He gives us a roadmap, so we can drive with an idea of where we are headed.  With this, we know exactly how to get there and what is involved.  He informs us of the places we shouldn’t venture.  Why?  Because we may get hurt, we may encounter bad people or we may get stuck.   We may even miss our destination entirely if we go our own way.  His directions are not given to demand his way, like an authoritarian dad.  His directions keep us from pain, shame, guilt and regret.  Even more, they are to offer us joy, fulfillment and purpose as we trust him.

He offers us the route to help us in our commute because he loves us.  If only we would actually see it this way.  We see his commands as rules, he sees them as tools.  Tools to help us, to guide us and to keep us in places of contentment, peace and purpose.

When we drive within the lines of the boundaries he has set, we will find safety.  We will live lives that are focused and purposeful.  As a result, we will effectively love God and love others more because we are not walking around as hurt vessels.  We are walking as loved children who are protected and secure in the path that God has set before us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  (Ephesians 6:1-3)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25)

God has perfect directions, or laws, for our lives.   Let’s keep our strollers upright as we walk hand in hand with God towards the destinations he has set before us.

 

 

When Love is Blocked

Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?

If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.

Boy was I dead wrong.

I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.

I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?

This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.

When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.

When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our  might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.

So what are we to do?

We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing.  We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will  approve us as we move forward in his calling.  Our love is not reliant on others.   It is reliant on God’s love for us.   This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.

When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance  with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

When we wait, God makes our love great.