Tag Archive for finding peace

Mary’s secret for peace {for all of us.}

Do you find peace elusive? Do circumstances dictate your mood? Does the behavior (or misbehavior) of others rattle you and threaten to steal your joy?

On what does your happiness depend?

One of the greatest lessons we can learn is that peace is not dependent on circumstances when you are in Christ. When my peace is threatened, I know my focus is on the wrong things: problems, injustices, situations.

Getting alone with my Bible and some time with the Lord is really the needed re-calibration for my anxious heart. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee.”

Mary-of-Nazareth-Nativity

Perfect peace.

One of my favorite examples from scripture, as you already know, is the humility of Mary.

Mary exemplifies a peace filled heart.

Mary’s world was turned upside down and we see her in a state of surrender. Angel appears, news delivered: You’re going to deliver the Messiah.

Peace. Belief. Surrender.—>And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Mary was living in a time when women had few rights. She was not master of her own destiny. She was dependent on God and she knew it. She called herself a servant–one who does the will of another.

Mary had few resources. She didn’t have riches or influence or people in high places that could get her out of a fix.

It’s easy to romanticize the manger scene with a soft-focused nostalgia. But think about Mary in her material state, flesh and blood, pregnant and uncomfortable with no where to give birth after traveling on a donkey to get to her birthing room, which turns out is no where, because there was no room for them. Plan B: Give birth in a stable on the ground.

Picture her giving of herself in order to give life to another, like every mother does. Her delivery wasn’t sterile or pain free. Shaking, sweating, panting, cold, hot, writhing in pain, holding her breath, frantic to survive another contraction and hoping the excruciating pain would soon be over. Her attitude on the dirt floor and hay bed of a birthing room: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”

When shepherds interrupted the scene to see the newborn, and people were invading their space, chattering on and on about the angels and the stars, about the news, and why they were there…

with all that noise and confusion after you just gave birth.in.a.stable.

and we see that Mary is not joining in with the noise and confusion, and is not agitated or demanding her space or rights, but is simply quiet. At rest. Pondering. Unaffected by the outward circumstances. She knew her God and she simply trusted Him. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

We see very little of Mary during the Lord’s 33 years on earth. We assume she did what normal mothers do. Night after night she nursed baby Jesus. She changed diapers, rocked, burped Him, cleaned a home, made meals, swept floors, cared for Joseph. Nothing spectacular by the world’s standards. Just faithful care for the people around her in her own little sphere of influence. But when we do see her, she was doing the right thing, and following the teachings of God. She followed Joseph when he was warned in a “dream” to flee to Egypt. We don’t see any recorded resistance to Joseph’s leadership. Then, years later, she was faithfully bringing the Lord to the temple when he was 12. Before Jesus first miracle, we see her instructing the servants to “do whatever He tells you.” Her steadfast heart was the same. She still saw herself as a servant of the Lord and trusted in Him.

And this is the secret to our peace as well. We need to see ourselves as servants of the Lord, to do what He commands, to walk where He leads, to serve in humility where He puts us.

Your life may seem mundane and maybe you are doing small things by the world’s standards. You may be obscure and poor and hidden. Maybe you are changing a baby’s diaper, or maybe caring for an elderly parent. And while you’ll never receive recognition for these things, an nobody seems to notice or care, God does see and notice. In fact, you are His servant doing His bidding right there as you feed that baby in the middle of the night, and as you calm that anxious loved one with Alzheimers.

Mary taught us that the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary, are to be embraced as “unto the Lord” and as “from the Lord.” This should teach us to say, with Mary, “Yes, Lord. Anything. Everything. Whatever you think is best for me.”

Mary held the “The Prince of Peace” in her physical arms. We have something better: We are “in Him” and have Him in our hearts.

Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

This Christmas, why not hand over that thing that has toyed with you and robbed you of your joy for so long. Why not meditate on the Prince of Peace and the one who did so much to bring peace with God to your life, heart, and eternity? Like Mary, why not trust God with everything and proclaim yourself a handmaiden/servant of God?

Why did we allow that small thing to steal our joy and peace again? What can threaten our peace now?

How to Survive the Wilderness

Today is one of those days where I woke up feeling fully blessed. We had a wonderful weekend full of blessing and answered prayer, and received good news from our daughter in college about some upcoming opportunities the Lord has given her.

But I don’t always wake up this way. Somedays, I wake up feeling lousy. Somedays, I wake up with an unresolved conflict hanging over my head. Sometimes circumstances are 100% out of my control. Those are the “Wilderness Days.” The days when you don’t think you can stand one more trial or irritation.

David, in Psalm 63, gives us wise counsel about how to survive in a wilderness and it’s instructive to note some of the qualities of this this God- loving, yet imperfect man, so that we can prepare ourselves for our wilderness days.

To survive in a wilderness takes forethought and planning. You don’t enter a trial and try to muster up spiritual strength on the spot. Inner spiritual strength comes from building up reserves before your trial hits you square in the face.

To survive in a wilderness:

1. You desire God alone. You seek Him. Your circumstances may be dry and horrible, but your soul is thirsty for God.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (63:1)

2. You prefer God’s presence more than anything or anyone.

Our daily worship prepares us to meet the trials of life, not just our Sunday worship. What goes on in your heart all week defines you more than going to church on Sunday.

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” (63:2)

3. You choose to praise God. 

When we go through trials, many times our lips betray our hearts by exposing our wrong thoughts. What’s going on inside of our mind eventually comes gushing out of our mouths! What are you known for? A life of praise? Or a life of cutting comments and complaints galore? Instead of complaining or protesting what God is allowing, remember all that He has done in the past and all that He will do in the future. Choose praise. Pray for lips that praise. If you can’t praise God, keep your mouth closed. Don’t infect your kids or neighbors with negative comments that make them question God’s goodness.

A thankful heart is at peace, because it’s content, not wanting more or less than what God’s provided.

A contentious, fretful, discontent heart always wishes, dreams and longs for different circumstances.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” (63:3)

4. Find your satisfaction in God alone.

We can thrive in a wilderness because we’ll always have God. Might I suggest that if you aren’t fulfilled in God, you read Ephesians and note all of the riches we have in Christ?

And if that still isn’t enough, maybe you are clinging to lesser things for your happiness? Those, “if only’s” can quickly become idols.

You know the thought process:

“If only”…

I had more money, more time, more children, less children, better behaved children, a more assertive husband, a less authoritative husband, more money, a bigger house, more respect, more love, more understanding, more opportunities, more health….

The list is only as long as our imagination.

The better way: “Be content in whatever state you are in.” That’s it. The big secret. Be content. Don’t wish for more. Be satisfied with what God has given. God. God. He is the giver. Let that sink in. When we rise up in complaint, it is to Him and his provision and providence.

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” (63:5,6)

5. Cling to Christ.

I don’t know what to say about this, except that when we are allured and enamored by lesser things, we’ll never be satisfied with Christ. We forget what we have. We chase wood, hay and stubble. No woman likes a man with “wandering eyes.” They just kinda creep you out, don’t they? Well, that’s what we are like when we are constantly on the lookout for something better. We have wandering eyes, and it “ain’t attractive” to a woman who professes godliness.

Clinging to Christ sounds desperate, but honestly, clinging to Christ for dear life is what is necessary. “My soul cleaves after you” is the literal translation! It includes submissive faith in God’s plan and an active pursuit of God. If you aren’t clinging to Christ, you are clinging to the wrong things.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” vs. 8

I love how Elizabeth George uses the metaphor of a tree’s roots to describe the strength and support that our private time in scripture reading and prayer provides:

“Just like a plant with its roots hidden underground, you and I –out of public view and alone with God–are to draw from Him all that we need to live the abundant life He has promised His children (John 10:10) We must seek to live our lives near to God–indeed, hidden in Him!” A Woman After God’s Own Heart, pg 30

What we do today determines how we weather our wilderness! What steps can you take today to realign your heart to Christ? What lesser things need to go to make room for the most important relationship in your life? Whatever it takes, do it! :)