Peace…it’s not just for hippies anymore…

Have you ever heard the expression, If it’s not one thing, then it’s another? Sometimes life can seem like a rollercoaster, twisting and turning you so that you don’t know which way is up. I think Forrest Gump said it best, “My momma always said, life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.”

You know, the very thing that makes life exciting is the very thing that can make us stay up all night in fear. Uncertainty. Not knowing what is coming next. I remember going to see a scary movie with a boy when I was about 16 years old. He sat with his knees pulled up to his chin, hands over his eyes, saying “What’s happening? No, don’t tell me!” over and over again.

There was a time that I felt this way. It was after the death of my brother, Jim. In the period of one short year, our family experienced the deaths of six loved ones…I also lost three friends that year. We got to the point where we didn’t want to open a newspaper or answer the phone. Uncertainty…what would happen next.

I was raised in the church. Jim and I were attending church at this time. I knew of God’s love, but I didn’t know God’s love. It wasn’t something I felt. I sang songs about his amazing grace and peace, but I never felt those things. It wasn’t until I dropped to such a low point in my life that I cried out to him in my despair. I used to say afterwards that God didn’t bring me to my knees; I was flat on my back with no where to look but up!

But you know, that peace I was looking for was there. The moment I turned to God and earnestly sought him, his peace washed over me like a gentle spring rain. It was immediate. It was freeing. It was amazing.

This is not to say that I didn’t have bad times after that. Of course I did…I’m human. But when the bad times come, I know where to go. I know that my heavenly father has the answers, whether he chooses to share them with me or not. I know that…and it brings me peace. Like a child taking a parent’s hand to cross the street or running to a parent’s bed during a thunderstorm…I know that I will find the comfort I am seeking…every time I go.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  ~~Phillipians 4:10-13

I was reading this passage today and it reminded me of a conversation I had with Jim the other night. We were discussing our finances and how in the midst of everything, God has been a great provider, with even some to share. Jim made the comment that he didn’t miss the things we couldn’t afford; that he was content. I agreed with him…God’s continuing grace and blessings have brought us such peace in the last year.

One of my favorite hymns was written by Horatio Spafford, after several traumatic events in his life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871 at the age of four, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre,  but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship,  and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Whatever my circumstances, you have taught me to say, it is well with my soul. Lesson learned…by a grateful child. Thank you Father!

He is rich who is content with the least; for contentment is the wealth of nature. ~~Socrates

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