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.

Sabbath Rest

In Leviticus 25:4, God instructs Moses on taking care of the land He is giving him.

during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.” (NASB)

Sabbath rest is holy rest, and it is necessary for land, bodies, and hearts. We live in a sleep deprived society that refuses to pause. Stillness and rest are luxuries that escape us, or maybe busyness is simply a convenient excuse for not stopping.

I led a very busy life before retiring seven years ago and immediately took on a new job and worked for another four years. After that, I helped with my granddaughters while my daughter-in-law finished school and began working. I know the importance of Sabbath. It is one of the ten commandments we so adamantly want displayed in public places, but I’m afraid I’ve never modeled the commandment very well.

Shalom means peace or completeness, and Sabbath is the seventh day of the week set aside for spiritual renewal. We wish others Shabbot Shalom when we hope they will find a peaceful time of renewal with God. No one knows better than God how hard it is for His children to find a moment to rest in Him, and no one desires that time together more than He.

Psalm 46:10 says,

“Be still and know that I am God.” (KJV)

It’s always been difficult for me to be still, but I am getting better at stopping my striving and being still in God’s presence. I grew up believing I had to work for God, do for God, give to God, get for God, etc…. God prefers for me to stop for a moment and simply be with Him. The practices of silence, solitude, and simplicity are vital to spiritual growth. Stillness is an important element of each.

Land will be depleted if the same crop is planted year after year; the same is true for my heart. It, too, needs to be fallow for a season. Winter is a perfect season to rest in obedience and allow Christ’s precious love to seep deeply into my heart. I know God has wonderful plans, and I know that He knows my heart better than anyone. Doing is important, and God doesn’t want me to stop doing. He just wants me to take time to rest peacefully in His presence.

I slept for ten hours last night and have found myself day dreaming one and off all day. I love my sacred imagination, and I love watching it play in the open space of my fallow heart. I used to think that was a waste of time, but I’m learning it’s the most important time of all. As I go into the holiday season, I plan to make stillness a part of my preparations. It is a season of peace on earth, and what better place to start than in my own heart.

image courtesy of Darryl Smith via rgbstock.com

image courtesy of Darryl Smith via rgbstock.com

Unplugged

I was reminded on Friday that unplugging the computer and waiting a moment before rebooting will solve most problems. The same is true for people. It usually takes an illness or bad weather for me to unplug, and I was faced with both today. Yesterday, I started coming down with the virus the girls have had for the past week. I was running on fumes and worn completely out when I went to bed last night. My schedule today was filled with important meetings and such, but I just couldn’t muster up the strength to get out of the house. I decided to unplug, rest, and reboot.

Weather and illness force me to stop when I want to keep going, but I need to unplug before my system crashes. God knows the importance of rest, so He created Sabbath as a space for us to do just that. There are many scriptures on the Sabbath principle, but I like Mark 2:25-28 best because it emphasizes the fact that God created the space because He cares for me.

Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?” Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” (The Message)

I veer away from the Sabbath God had in mind, but Jesus reminds me that God cares for me and wants me to take care of me. He also knows that when I stop and get still, I’m filled with His presence. I don’t stop often enough. Sunday and Sabbath are not the same. Sunday is the Lord’s day and involves stopping and taking time to honor and worship Him. That is a form of rest that is also necessary to maintain a healthy heart, spirit, mind, and body. Sabbath simply means to cease/rest.

I don’t get sick often, so I’m not a patient patient 🙂 It’s good to be reminded that health is something to be appreciated and not taken for granted. I’m sure this bug will be gone in a few days, but I hope it leaves me remembering to unplug and reboot my system before it crashes next time.

unplugged

Healing Peace

Past hurts and future worries invade my present peace if I allow them to take up space in my heart. I do wish I could stay in the present moment more and enjoy God’s presence more fully. I suppose it is human nature to forget that God’s presence is about allowing His Holy Spirit to control each moment. It’s not easy to simply be, but I’m doing a better job in that regard. I’m not holding fast to my plans and my wants, and I’m trying to live and love in each moment. Praying centers, but I have to make sure my time with God is more about being with Him than rehashing the past and rehearsing the future.

It’s been a week filled with time, and that has led to slipping into the past and fretting about the future. I caught myself feeling sorry for myself and decided to redirect and do something for someone else. It’s the surest way to truly stay in the present and forget my worries and regrets. Listening to the rain also brings me to the present in a beautiful way, and I’ve certainly had lots of time to do that this week! I love the sweet peace rain brings, and I love the sleep that comes during a downpour. I’m not sure why I sleep so well when it’s raining, but I love the feeling I get from the deep, replenishing rest that comes during a night of rain.

Healing peace is not only attainable, it gets easier as I learn to focus upon God and what He places in my path each moment. His work is never tedious, and I loose track of time when I listen to and obey Him. Healing and peace go together perfectly, and I’m sure there is research out there to connect the two. In Mark 5:34, Jesus makes a beautiful connection. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” NASB

I know from personal experience, that Jesus brings peace, and peace brings healing. When I rehash and rehearse, I loose peace. When I rest in God and have faith that He is Who He says He is, I find the sweet peace that heals. My heart hasn’t been as whole as it is now ever in my life, and I thank God for bringing me to this place of healing. It isn’t about happiness as much as it is about joy and holiness. Living in God’s Spirit allows me to live out Christ’s precious love in each moment, and that heals my heart, settles my soul, and brings me nearer to God.

Peaceful Rain

Rest in Peace

God’s healing brought a new rest to my heart, unfamiliar in that restlessness is absent. He left my heart as sore as it has ever been, but it isn’t broken or aching any more. The soreness, like the rest is a new sensation that causes me to pause as I notice the absence of aching. I’m not sure how long this soreness will last, but I pray the rest will never leave. There is nothing better for the body, soul, mind, and spirit than rest. I believe it is the stillness in Psalm 46:10. I’ve tried to find that sweet stillness but have been frustrated by its fleeting nature as I have caught a moment but been unable to hold it.

This rest is more than a moment; it is a state of being unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I struggled last week as God worked out the hurt buried deep in my heart. The exhaustion of the week along with facing the choices I have made in regard to my heart one at a time, but all in one week took the last bit of stubbornness and the need to retaliate right out of me. I was as depleted as ever on Thursday evening after aerobics, and I was ready to find a secluded spot and hide away. The beauty of God’s timing is that He placed that facing in a week filled with reminders of one beautiful choice I have made when it comes to love.

My son Tyler is an amazing man, and I love him more than life itself. When he puts his arms around me and tells me he loves me, my heart is never better. God knew I would need his sweet presence as I went through the ‘surgery’ He had planned for my heart. He also knew that having those sweet girls would help put my mind and heart right where they belong. Lillyann spent the night with me last night, and I love falling asleep with her next to me. She and Mylah know just how to soothe my heart, and God has made sure they were near me all week. Gina was a beautiful bride in my path this week, and she reminded me of what God wants for me when it comes to love. I haven’t ever seen myself as a bride. God does, and I plan to see myself in His light from now on.

It’s never easy to face my mistakes, but it is especially difficult to be confronted with so many in such a short time. I suppose it’s like the surgeon saying, “while I’m in there, I plan to…..” Well, the Master Surgeon took His two-edged scalpel, and while He was already in my heart, decided to go ahead and take care of all that needed cutting away. The soreness is similar to the feeling I get when I haven’t walked or exercised in while, and I call it good soreness. I welcome it as it reminds me to be mindful and remember that it is easy to fall back into those destructive patterns if I listen to the wrong voices.

The rest since Thursday has been just what my heart needed. My mind and body haven’t minded it either:) True rest is what God promises in Isaiah 26:3, and it is what my heart desires. I love that scripture, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” That’s the peace and rest that allows me to be still and know that He is not only God, but He knows what He’s doing. Handing over my heart was not easy because it meant giving up my desires and embracing His. When I felt the rest that followed, I knew I had no desire to go back to the old restless aching. Just as walking in His kingdom doesn’t have to wait until I die, neither does resting in peace. I can do both now, and that’s a lesson I loved learning:)