Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The peace of the Lord

Lord Jesus I wish for one minute I could see myself as you see me. 

Just as I sometimes long to get a glimpse inside my children's heads so that I could perhaps for a microsecond fathom how they think, I wish that I could see the bigger picture. 

Am I a child who is dashing about bumping into walls and wailing over the bruises when all that is needed is to slow down and stop?  Am I well-intentioned, but doing the wrong thing? Or am I so far off the mark that I need to change direction?  When I come to you as I am now, full of anxiety and weighed down by things that I'm struggling with and can't control do you shake your head with sorrow and love because it needn't be this way?  Are you willing me to go a step further, to do whatever it is I'm on the brink of doing? Are you saying, 'You're so close! You're doing alright!' or are you hoping that I'll wait and rest and listen and be?

'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'

John 14:27 NIV

Lord, where was I when you gave out peace? I feel as if I'm the least peaceful person in the world, though surely that's not the case. There must be people out there who are more chewed up than I am, one would think, but I suspect that hunting for someone worse off than me isn't particularly helpful right now.  I want peace. I want to be peaceful. I want to sail along unruffled, unhassled.  I know that life won't leave me alone, untouched and untroubled, but I want so very much to learn how to cope with the difficulties without being sunk by them. I want to be the one who says, 'Yes, life is hard, but I can cope because God helps me.'  

...and I want it to be so. I want to learn how to leave my troubles with you, because you care for me. 

'Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you.'

1 Peter 5:7 NIV

It's not that I don't believe that you care for me, it's just that I can't seem to let go of things. Or I do for a while but then I pick them all up again. 

I know that some people can compartmentalise their lives much better than I can. Some people can have a troublesome area of their lives and they box it away and get on with the rest without allowing the problems to spill over. My life is much more of a sandwich. If there are layers of bread and butter and ham and salad and the ham is off then the whole sarnie becomes inedible. I can't move on with anything if something is wrong. And if more than one area of my life is in turmoil at the same time then it gets worse and worse. 

Peace. I love the idea that I might have your peace. Peace, calm, stillness. Composure. All of those things and also an absence of turmoil. An absence of thoughts that go round and round in my head, of things that wake me in the night and prevent me from getting back to sleep. 'What if's that form the basis for nightmares. A burden of worry that some days feels physically heavy to carry round. I would like such a peace. How wonderful that would be. 

So, when I know where to get it from, and I know that you keep your promises, so if I ask, I will receive it, what's going wrong?  Are my hands too full of other stuff to grasp the peace that you offer? Am I never still enough to let your peace drip into my soul?  Or something else?

I wish I could see myself as you see me for a minute. Then I'd know what to do differently. 

I think that I plan to spend time with you and then sort of run out of time. Of all the things that need doing in a day for some reason the thing that falls off the bottom of the list is spending time with you. It seems so ridiculous to say that sending an email or watching TV is a higher priority than spending time with the Creator of the Universe, but on a daily basis that's what seems to happen.  I felt peaceful when I went on my Quiet Day the other week  (The Unforced Rhythms of Grace) but how quickly that stillness evaporated when I plugged back into real life. 

How can I make it into real life? How can I amalgamate the two so that it isn't either one thing or the other? Surely it doesn't have to be either peace or chaos? I need to find a way to top up the tank before I'm running on empty. When I was learning to drive my Dad told me that it wasn't good for the car to let the petrol tank get right to the bottom as all the impurities and sludge (is that a technical term?) would cause problems for the car. I can't be any more specific as I don't really understand how a car works but I have an image of a load of thick, lumpy, dirty sludge being sucked into the mechanism of the engine and clogging it up.  I feel a bit as if my life is like that. I'm choking on sludge. 

Maybe I need a week of Quiet Days. Or a month. Ha!

So I need to incorporate a little bit of quiet into each day. This is hardly news, since I've been bleating on about it for so long. I'm going to make a real effort because life without peace is getting harder and harder. 

'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'

I want your peace, Lord Jesus. I don't like what the world is giving me at the moment - it seems full of uncertainty and confusion and stress and fear. I would rather have your peace. I don't want my heart to be troubled and I am tired of being afraid. It sounds from this quote that you think I have some control over whether my heart is troubled or not; 'Do not let your heart be troubled..' and so the answer must be to draw closer to you. If I were truly sheltering under your wing then I would not be afraid of anything, would I? 

Take me somewhere where I can find your peace. Help me to find time and space to be with you so that the rest and peace I felt in the quiet can be a regular thing and not just something that happens when I can escape to a different place. 

Show me how to grasp the peace that you're holding out to me.

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