Rest in Peace

Change is never easy, but pliability brings peace to the process. When mama died five years ago, my heart was a pile of shattered clay that I tried, in vain, to put back together. Mama’s death was an expected one, but that didn’t make it any easier. We longed for her pain to end and even questioned her lingering for so long. My heart hung on to her even though I knew she longed to be with her beloved Lord. Part of the problem was that I wanted to go with her. Mama and I shared a special bond that began at my birth and continued after her death. I still feel her loving presence, and I’ve learned to rest in it.

Lillyann was born the day before mama’s last birthday. Mama thought she was born on her birthday because that’s when she saw the first pictures of her. She also believed she was named after her mother Lillie Belle. We all let her believe both. Three months after Lillyann entered the world, mama left it. She never saw her sweet great-grandbaby in person, but she loved her all the same. Mama loved with her whole heart, and that caused her a great deal of grief. She told me over and over that other people weren’t like us and that would break my heart one day. I carried her fear of being hurt into all of my relationships. As a result, I connected to those who could not, would not, or did not love me the way my heart needed to be loved. Over the past five years, love has entered into my life in new and beautiful ways that have allowed my heart to rest in love. I know I am loved and see myself as God’s beloved daughter.

The powerful lessons this week have been about trusting God to change the desires of my heart and then resting in His love. I’ve never been one to rest or trust, so it has been a challenging week. I’ve prayed fervently for God to make the desires of His heart the desires of my own, but I realized this week that I have to trust and rest before that can happen.  I’m not sure when or how it happened this week, but my heart rested into a pliable peace that was very much like the feeling you get when you notice a terrible headache is gone.  I knew in October that resting and relaxing were going to be an important part of the learning this winter, but I wasn’t sure how God would get me to do either. I was thinking hibernation, but that isn’t at all what God had in mind.

Resting in peace is associated with death. I prayed fervently for mama to find such rest when she left this world. One rarely finds peace in this world; but just as we can walk in God’s Kingdom now, we can also rest in His peace before dying. It never occurred to me that rest was related to obedience until a friend reminded me that relaxing into obedience is part of the journey toward holiness. I learned this week that I can rest in obedience, rest in hope, rest in peace, rest in grace, and rest in love. In fact, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can rest in all things. Once I allowed my heart to rest, I felt the pliable peace of Philippians 4:7, and it changed everything.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Christmas is the season of peace on earth, and there is still nothing that brings peace into our hearts like the pure unconditional love of a child. God knew that when He devised His plan for peace on earth. His Son’s precious love captivates our hearts as we remember His birth. May the pure love of Immanuel bring pliable peace to all our hearts this season.

Love + Grace = Peace

Love is the first step in finding peace. As incomprehensible as God’s love is, it is the beginning of everything and must be the place from which my heart starts its journey toward peace. Grace enters into the journey in the life of Christ. God became one of us and extended grace to a world in need of connection.

Grace became the glue that connected God’s love and the Holy Spirit’s peace in our hearts. Christ made that connection possible when He died and rose from the grave in the most amazing plan ever. Grace is more than amazing; it is more than any word we have in our vocabularies. It is what brings love and peace together. Just as the Trinity are three and one, so are love, grace and peace beautifully connected. They do not exist apart from one another, but they are three separate entities.

I don’t pretend to understand the Trinity, but I feel Its effect upon my life. I can’t define love, grace, or peace; but I know what they do to my heart. I cannot imagine life without the love of God, the grace of Christ, or the peace of the Holy Spirit. I know when my heart is out of balance it is because I allow other than love, grace, and peace to be present in it. Love, grace, and peace will step aside when hate, lust, or discord enter in. They will not share or force their way into my heart’s space.

The beauty of love, grace, and peace is that they create a beautiful harmony that cannot be found anywhere except in a heart tuned to them. Hearts can find love and peace for brief periods, but without the grace Christ offers, it is only a temporary possession that dissipates quickly and must be sought over and over again. Christ’s grace provides a sweet Comforter in the Holy Spirit who coexists with me. There is a world of difference between possessing and coexisting, and as big a difference between the peace I can find on my own and the peace Christ’s grace brings. The peace of the Holy Spirit is like having a beautiful friend who hears my heart and never leaves my side. Peace that possesses is a temporary high that feels good for a moment and then goes away.

My peace is disrupted when I allow my desires to override God’s will. God is all powerful, but He will not force His love, His Son’s grace, or His Spirit’s peace upon anyone. He knows I must experience discord occasionally to appreciate the difference His peace offers. Last week, I got carried away with my selfish wants and found myself floundering and flustered. I know prayer is the path to peace, so I did a lot of praying. What happened is what always happens when I get tired of spinning out of control and ask God to help. He extended love and grace, and I surrendered to His peace.

There is no verse more comforting to me than the sweet simple words of Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NASB)

I suppose I will veer off the path of peace as long as I live, but it comforts my heart greatly to know that peace is only a prayer away. Now, if I can only get better at praying a little faster each time 🙂