Sometimes my life feels so normal and other times, times like today my family’s path becomes so narrow that I can feel the branches on either side of us scratching my arms as we squeeze through. Always fixing our eyes ahead, though. Pressing onward to the light that we can see shining at the end. Reminding ourselves that the open space is sure to come soon. For the joy set before us, we endure.
Earlier I logged on to social media to message family about an urgent prayer request for my husband. We are a family in overseas Christian ministry, and my husband is currently on his first solo trip in a nation in the Middle East. I typed the brief request on my laptop, partially hoping for some sort of quick response to ease my nerves, yet to no avail. And so I began mindlessly scrolling through my news feed simply attempting to not think for a few seconds; mind wandering as the words and images blurred upon the screen. Meanwhile my children continued to talk across their beds to each other in the other room despite me having already visited them four times asking them to be quiet and go to sleep. The kids and I have to catch an early train in the morning to get to the airport, meet my husband there after he flies back from his trip and then we will all fly together to stay in another country for a few weeks. Before January we had never left our home country, and now by the end of 2019 we will have been to thirteen nations, traveling and sharing the gospel of the kingdom. Whoa. That’s wild. I can hardly grasp it myself. A lot.
Peace. Come in with Your peace, Daddy.
Facebook will never meet that requirement for me. Nor chocolate. Or my favorite Scandinavian pastries. And neither can people, honestly. They can encourage us and usher in the Lord’s presence who in return will bring peace. But there’s a Divine flow that can only drench us fully when it comes straight from the Source. The River of Life.
So I sat, waiting. And He came. I knew He would. I thrusted my cares on to Him, knowing that Jesus endlessly cares for me. And His peace washed over me like cool water on a warm day.
For several months now I have been intentionally practicing living in the peace of God. This mission hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve basically offered myself up to be refined and purified. Willingly choosing to become more aware of how much time I spend outside of the pool of peace that was always meant to be my inheritance in Christ. A life without peace becomes so noticeable once you begin actively pursuing the real thing. And that’s what I had, a life without peace. Of course there were countless moments of peace that came and went, but the moment adversity arose I was panicked and desperate.
Help me, Lord. I’m sinking!
I am full of faith. I can walk out on to the water with no hesitation. The moment God calls me to something I jump, “Here I am, send me!”, taking the huge leaps of faith with little flinching. But without the peace of God over me, suddenly the waves would begin to lick my ankles, a panic would rise from my gut to my throat and before I knew it I would begin to sink.
Help me, Lord. I’m sinking!
Moving forward in bold faith with peace that came and went looked like frequent stops atop the sea in order to be lifted out of sinking waters by Merciful Hands. With that I am learning that faith and peace are not the same.
Chaos. Anxiety. Stress. Overwhelmed. These are big words that no one wants to identify with but many are caught up within the endless rotation nonetheless. These are senses of reality that I, now, consistently rely upon the Holy Spirit to not realign with. I am witnessing firsthand that it is possible, to live within the peace of God. This year has been one of overcoming. My greatest fears and challenges have taken place, and within the fire there has been another One standing with my family and I. Jesus has never left our side. He has been glorified through every ounce of victory we’ve had in the trials. Yet I realized that even overcoming all of these crazy, radical things did not organically cultivate a life of peace. Peace was an inheritance I still had a choice to steadfastly claim or not.
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord,Isaiah 54:13 NKJV
And great shall be the peace of your children.“
This mission of peace was kickstarted one day when I heard the Lord tell me to consistently pray that scripture over my children. God knows us so well. He knew I would truly receive it if the revelation came through parenting. So I started praying claiming that peace would be my children’s inheritance. Being a missionary child is not your typical childhood. My husband and I’s prayer has been that throughout all of the changes in our journey as a family, the peace of God will remain constant over us. But I didn’t notice until I kept praying and attempting to force peaceful behavior, that I was never really taught by love to receive this peace inheritance from the Lord myself. How then could I possibly train my two under-5-year-olds to live in the peace of God? This was something I needed first. Something I truly longed for. And so I merely asked.
I want to dwell in Your house forever, God. Give me Your peace.
He’s a good Dad, He gives good gifts. Peace is a part of my inheritance in Christ and I claim that over myself. Before long, in the midst of our multiple travels I noticed that long-lived knots began to work out of chest. Thought patterns were molded and transformed in truth. Peace became a Person that I was in relationship with daily, and He also goes by the name, Jesus. Something wild happens when you begin to actually get to know God. As you talk with Him and discover more about about Him, your heart begins to expand with a love unfathomable and your mind renews with a freedom unattainable in your own strength. He is just that good.
My husband has been gone for four days now on this incredible, miraculous trip seeing God move in a new way in a nation that will effect the world. While he has been away, I have had to slow down my pace of life to be able to thrive with my kids. The change of pace has brought rest and also revelation to my life. Living in the peace of God doesn’t mean adversity stops, it just means you have a fortress to live inside regardless of what comes your way. Changing up the kids’ routine by not having their daddy around was a bit of a frenzy those first few days. We fought to remain in peace. Monday rolled around and I dropped the ball in maintaining the peace in our household. Getting them dressed, fed and dropped off at school was rushed because I needed to also lead worship that morning. And my hastiness choked out peace for myself and my son. He refused to be dropped off at school. Screaming and clinging to me when I tried to leave, fighting off his teachers, and completely not acting like himself. I knew I shouldn’t leave him, but I was so upset without fully understanding why. I tearfully put his snowsuit back on and stomped back over with him to our house. In the absence of peace, stress created anger. He was upset. I was upset. I quietly let frustrated tears slide down my cheeks as we sat down on the floor of my kids’ bedroom. I had no clue where to go from there.
Then the Lord drew near, put His lips to my ear, and whispered to me, reminding me of His peace.
Oh right. I’ve been living outside of it again.
I repented for projecting my stress onto my kids and eventually letting anger flood my actions. Following that, revelation swept in. Instead of leading worship for our community, I had an opportunity exceedingly more important in that moment. I excitedly ran to get my computer, returned to his room, and put on some soaking instrumental worship music. I began leading myself and my son into the presence of God. He sat in my lap for a few minutes and we both were still as we let the instruments wash over us while listening to the voice of God. I encouraged my son to ask God if there was anything God wanted to say to him. Fifteen or twenty minutes of quiet worship and little words spoken went by while my son periodically moved about the room, laying down, sitting up, and playing with toys here and there. My son was lying on his belly, rolling his sapphire blue marble across the floor when he said,
“He told me that I need to get peace and then I can go to school today.”
“God told you that?”, I asked while holding my breath. “Yeah.”, he said with a smirk and shrug of his shoulders.
My heart exploded. The reality of that scripture I had been praying over my children was occuring before my eyes (ref. Isaiah 54:13). My children are taught by the Lord and great is their peace. My four year old not only hears God’s voice, but he chooses to live in God’s peace. Not by my control or manipulation, but out of my willingness to provide space for the choice of peace to be made. We laughed and talked for a while; so full of gratitude for the Lord coming in that room, the Prince of Peace Himself coming to meet us in our mess. Afterwards my son felt the peace of God and wanted to return to school. We walked back and attempted to drop him off again. This time I took my time with him. Soaking in every moment that I had rushed through the first time. And the day went on, not ruined by one moment of things not going my way which ultimately resulted in me choosing to sin. I chose peace, and the man Himself came in glory not only for me but for my child. He is just that good. I’m excited to continue on this journey of getting to know God and make Him known.
Things will not always go my way. Like Peter, I’ve given Jesus permission to call me out on to the water with Him. And He responded. He has called me to be with Him, to be like Him. I’m out on the water with Jesus. Sometimes the waves will reach my waist, sometimes the wind will toss me off my balance. Adversity will come. I’m not asking for it, but I know that if I share in the sufferings of Christ then I have a solid hope that I will attain to the fulness of His resurrection as well. To fully know Christ, and glorify Him to the nations. He is Jehovah Shalom. The Lord my Peace.