A Soul at Rest

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O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131

It’s a wonderful thing to think about isn’t it? That our soul can be completely quieted by resting in the Lord, as rested as a weaned child. I love when I stumble on a verse I either haven’t read in a long time, or don’t remember reading at all. It’s like it opens up a brand new vista just when I need it most. This morning, I asked for a word because I had nothing and then after prayer the words flowed out without me even trying.

Jesus said,  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

Yes, indeed. This morning was a gift, as I sat outside in the breeze I quieted my soul by noticing little things……a dried leaf skittering across the ground. The sound of the little bee wind chime which has a delicate sound that the big clanging buoy bell tries its best to drown out. A hummingbird chirp was coming from somewhere but I never saw it. When the world is turned down and the soul is quieted, you can hear these things.

Last night I went out and gazed at the bright wedge of moon and thought that faith in God is very much like that moon without anything shining on it. We know it’s up there but only when the sun is shining on it do we see it. Every day I see faith living itself out in the land where the shadow of death hangs.

I see the man who comes preaching and singing to Joyce’s care home. What a tough crowd, half of them have their heads down on the table. But He is doing what God calls him to do, and I don’t know how he does it week after week but he does. And with joy too.

I see Elaine having to change her Mom’s clothes, a thing that horrifies them both but they do what they have to do. And I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Faith living itself out no matter what, because like that moon, we can’t see Him but we know He’s there and there is hope because He lives and He’s with us, every step we take however painful.

Right now I am reading a wonderful book I  found called “The Green Desert” a silent retreat. It’s written by Rita Winters. She quit her high stress advertising job and went on a 3 week retreat in the Sonoran desert. I highly recommend it. As I read her descriptions of the desert I know so well, I thought how blessed I have been to have lived here in this Hermitage I call my home for 8 years now.

The desert speaks to you if you let it. It teaches you what no other place can, it speaks of lonely sun-scorched places and turns the quiet up in your soul. The death in the landscape all around you, the severity of it all makes it that much more beautiful when it surprises you with life. Powerful resurrected life that has the power to take your breath away.

And it gives you the sense at night when you look up at all those stars amidst the shadow of those towering sentinels, the Saquaros, that they are bearing witness to something older and bigger than you.

You recognize there is another side to it all and you can sense it. Beyond the blackness, beyond space there is a ring of light so brilliant we aren’t prepared to see it yet. Our eyes are still too attuned to this world, but just the same they are there. The crowd of witnesses the Bible talks about is there. And just today I realized I didn’t have to question if they can see us, because a witness sees who and what it’s witnessing.

And like the moon, like God, just because we can’t see them unless the light is shining on them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

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Craving some Peace today?

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You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

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 14:7

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

What would happen if we all just ceased striving for one day? Left our cars in the driveway. Let the stack of bills sit……let the dust bunnies roll around and settle in the corner. How quiet it would be if we didn’t hear the sound of the washer, if we didn’t hear one car on the street.

What if people put down their weapons of war for just one day and asked themselves what they are truly fighting for? It’s never happened yet but it’s something to think about. The Bible says that in the future there will be such a time, Isaiah’s vision for peace:

People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
    and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
    his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The Lord will mediate between nations
    and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
    nor train for war anymore.

We live in a time of continual striving. It’s become our normal, especially in America. Even if our bodies are relaxed and peaceful, our minds are going a million miles an hour. We have to train ourselves to relax because we don’t know how. We have all the drugs in the world to prove it. But only Jesus can give us the kind of peace we truly seek. The peace that satisfies. The peace that remains no matter the circumstance.

I often walk past this little dove. She is sitting in perfect peace amidst all these thorns in the crux of this huge cactus. We live in the world which has much turmoil right now, thorns everywhere we turn. But if we take a deep breath and slow down, peace is possible. We don’t have to fear the thorns. I have watched this Mama dove weather many summer storms but she peers out at me as if to say…..”See, not to worry, I am still here.”

I am praying for peace today, not the kind the world gives, the kind Jesus gives. The kind that settles deep in your heart and lodges there like a calm lake without one ripple. No matter what else is going on in your life, ask the Lord for that peace. He is generous with it. If you find yourself in turmoil today, slow down. Rest easy. Do one thing at a time and focus on only that one thing and then go on to the next. That way you won’t be overwhelmed.

Soon you will find that lake of peace that rests deep in your soul. I leave you with a little Psalm………….

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46: 9,10

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