3 Keys to Peace in the Storms of Life

One summer in my late teens I went on a rafting trip with a good friend and her boyfriend’s family. This family had been doing this for many years and had a lot of experience on the river. I had never done anything like that before and was clueless as to what I was getting myself into. Before getting into the rafts, the boyfriend’s father gave us a brief training session. He told us that if we were to ever get thrown from the raft we needed to relax and not panic. He proceeded to say that the river would eventually spit us back up to the surface, so we needed to allow the river to do what it does. Panic would cause us to fight against river and put us into a more dangerous situation. That proved to be some life-saving advice for me later on. After the second or third rapid our raft flipped while going through another and I ended up stuck under the raft. The initial falling caused a deep panic as I began to gasp for air; however, I remembered those words. “Relax, the river will spit you back up.” So, I took in a deep breath and let the river be in control. Sure enough, after getting pulled underwater through the rapid, the river calmed and spit me up. And I could breathe again. It was terrifying and I truly believe those words saved my life.

Jesus spoke similar words in a familiar Bible story that I believe are life-giving in this season of crazy.

In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus and his disciples head out across a lake on a boat where they encounter a storm. The men become frantic and look to Jesus only to see that He is sleeping. They awaken Him with accusation. He calms the storm and rebukes them for their fear.

I can imagine the panic they felt was similar to my experience on that rafting trip. The storm raging, water filling the boat while putting all their effort into keeping it afloat. I’d imagine their lives were flashing through their minds, thoughts of loved ones they may not see again. And the one person that could do something to help them was asleep. As anxiety and fear overwhelmed them, they woke up Jesus by yelling at him. “Don’t you care about what is going on?!”

Sound familiar? Current events have produced storms that have shaken the very fabric of our lives. It seems there is no end in site and the hope of going back to normal continues to fade away. What are we to do? How are we to respond? The weight of all the decisions to be made in this hour can be overwhelming to say the least. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has shaken my fists at Jesus in these last few months.

Now for those words of Jesus I mentioned earlier. “Peace, be still!” Just like how that man told me to relax through the rapids, Jesus speaks peace to our hearts. Every time a wave hits…peace, be still.

I believe there is an invitation into peace in this season. We can experience it by laying down in the boat next to Jesus. We need to stop bailing the water out of the boat. Surrender…lay down all the decisions..stop looking at the storm…get down next to Jesus.

What does it look like practically?

  1. Change your focus. Spend time with Jesus in His word rather than watching the news or bingeing on social media. Consistent time with the Lord will enable your spirit to be at peace and better equip you navigate the stormy waters of life. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever honorable, whatever is just, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:8-9
  2. Surrender. Through prayer bring every fear, anxiety or decision before the Lord. Acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus in those areas. Repent where it’s needed. Ask him to guide you. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
  3. Thanksgiving. This is a divinely powerful weapon that often gets overlooked. One of the best ways to experience a change in attitude, mood or perspective on anything is to spend time thanking God. Just try it! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be know to everyone. The Lord is at hand;” Phil 4:4-5

Friends, we can thrive in a season of uncertainty. Jesus is with us in the boat and we do not need to be afraid. The waters may rage but they will spit us back up when we stop fighting and relax. Put your faith in God, trust the process and live in peace. I’ll leave you with this final scripture.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46 ESV

The Author of Our Story

Who is telling your story? What is the voice that you are listening to every day? Is it a condemning voice; is it the voice of the accuser? Or is it the voice of the Advocate, the Author and Perfecter of our faith?

My friend preached a powerful message on the life of Abraham on Sunday and I can’t get away from something he said, “Our story is better told by the Author.” Abraham did not lead a perfect life by any means. His story is filled with failure, unbelief and fear. On his way to Canaan he grew afraid of the kings in the land. And not once, but twice, he lied by saying Sarah was his sister to protect his own life. He allowed his wife to be taken into the kings’ harem. He got impatient with God’s promise of a son (wouldn’t you after 25 years?!). He and Sarah took it into their own hands which resulted in Ishmael and a host of other problems that accompanied his birth. So far his story isn’t looking too great. But how does the Author write his story?

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:18-21 NIV

Jesus is so kind. His perspective on our lives is so much better than our own. If we are honest, I’m willing to bet that our story looks a lot like Abraham’s. There are plenty of moments of unbelief, fear and failure. We can be so hard on ourselves; I know that I am. But this morning, I asked the Lord how he writes my story. One word was all it took to bring me to a puddle of tears. ONE WORD from the Author. ONE WORD to retell my story. ONE WORD!!! I just sat there in His love and let His words wash over my heart and mind. It was so good!

I encourage you to ask the Lord that question today. How do you tell my story? Allow Him to minister to you and rewrite the tape in your mind. Allow Him to give you a heavenly perspective because it is so much better.

Here is a link to my friend’s sermon if you want to give it a listen. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-faith-of-abraham/id1451330678?i=1000457086616

Self Love vs. Self Denial

My insta feed continues to be filled with “self-love” quotes and memes. As much as I want to scroll on by, I can’t ignore the message that is being fed to us by the world. It is a lie and so many well-meaning friends are falling under it’s spell. And as someone who has struggled to accept my God-given personality and gifts for a lot of my life, I have found myself in the grip of it at times.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

I feel it is necessary to stand for truth in the midst of the rising tide of self-love sweeping the nation that is specifically targeting women. The above Bible passage tells us that a sign of the end of the age is that people will be lovers of themselves. Another way to say it is “too intent on one’s self interest.” That sounds a lot like the message being spread across social media.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.

Really, the bravest thing we will ever do?! What about slaying giants, conquering kingdoms, enforcing justice, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching the power of fire, receiving back the dead, being made strong out of weakness, becoming mighty in battle and putting foreign armies to flight? And the list in Hebrews 11 goes on. Does it take courage to own our stories, yes. But the bravest thing we will ever do, I think not. Living a life of FAITH is much more brave.

Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.

The Bible begs to differ again on this one. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and all will be added (Matthew 6:33). God’s kingdom is opposite of the world’s. We serve and become great, we die and yet live, we give away and then receive. As we prefer others above ourselves, we begin to look like our precious Savior, Jesus.

Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.

Well…wrong again. We are able to love because of the love we have received from the Father (1 John 4:19). Agape, or unconditional love, is supernatural. It doesn’t originate with us. In order for us to express that love to another, we must first be touched by it ourselves. The perfect love of God will drive away all of our doubts and fears about who we are. As we come into agreement with the truth of God’s love, we are able to love others and think more rightly about ourselves.

The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.

It is difficult to overcome our false self perceptions, believe me, I know. It has been a battle I’ve been fighting for many years. But you want to know what the real difficulty is? It’s SIN. We all have a sin problem. Sin is so much more destructive than we realize. It was powerful enough for the Darling of Heaven to leave His place of glory at the right hand of God to walk this earth as a man, die on a cross and raise again. All so that we could be delivered from the problem of sin. To have victory in how we see ourselves, we must first address the sin in our lives: Repent, receive forgiveness, rebuke the enemy and replace with the truth.

The opposite of self hate is not self love. It is self-denial. The Bible says that one must deny themselves by taking up their cross daily to follow Christ. We need to take our eyes off of our “self” and look to Jesus.

I believe the way forward is recognizing that we have put off the old self. It has been crucified with Christ. (Gal 2:20) We must walk in the truth that we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). By receiving our heavenly identity, declaring that truth over our lives and seeking Jesus first, we will find the peace we are looking for.

I’m back

This year I am on a mission to write more frequently. I have lots of ideas but just never seem to get around to develop the thoughts into writing. Well, I finally found some time and hope this challenges and encourages you.

“Self-care” is big right now. Well, at least it is in my mom corner of the world. Something about it kinda bugged me but I didn’t really know why until a few weeks ago. I was really hoping for some “Me” time at the end of a long Christmas break. When I talked to my husband, I realized that it wasn’t going to work with our schedule and I got upset. I went crying to my room and the Lord whispered to my heart, “I am your reward.” Immediately, one of my favorite passages of Scripture came to mind:

Psalms 16:5-6 “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed. I have a beautiful inheritance.”

In that moment I realized the reward I had been looking for was a break. The demands of motherhood are endless, emotionally exhausting and mundane a lot of the time. At times I felt like I was doing everything I could to just get through the day. I started to look at everything I was doing for my family and began to feel entitled to some time to myself.

A quick google search turns up the following (and so much more):

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. A healthier, stronger, happier you is better able to take care of those depending on you.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

At first glance all of those statements seem good and true, but let’s examine them in the light of Scripture.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Philipians 2:3-7 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…”

Where does our light come from? Who is supposed to come first? What fills us up?Suddenly, those self-care statements aren’t looking so good. There is a thread of truth in them, but it has been twisted just enough to lead us into deception if we aren’t careful. We can be seduced into thinking and looking more like the world than like Jesus.

Going back to that opening passage, Psalms 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.” Let’s be careful not to turn self-care into a god. It will only perpetuate cycles of self-pity, sadness, anxiety and defeat.

Now, I’m not saying self-care is all bad and we should just abandon it all together. We do need to take care of this temple we’ve been given. However, we need to turn to Jesus first to meet our needs. He alone satisfies. He alone can fill our cup. He alone is our source. Look to Him. One glance into His eyes will wipe away every bit of exhaustion. That is a much richer reward than some self-care indulgence can ever provide.