I knew before I left the house that the route to my destination would most assuredly include miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I reached the other side of Houston. I set my mind to enjoy my trip no matter what and made sure to leave the house early enough to avoid the late afternoon rush hour. I must admit there were moments which threatened my deliberate peace, but I was strong and resisted with my mantra “it doesn’t matter….you have plenty of time…enjoy the journey…” I was prepared for the trip – I knew where I was going, had adequate fuel, snacks and water. It’s easy to enjoy the journey when you are prepared.
I had been anticipating the retreat for months and with every mile that drew me closer, I could feel the pressures of the every day falling away. As I drove onto the grounds of my destination an even stronger sense of quiet washed over me. The kind of peace that you can drink in with every breath. Surrounding stillness that felt as if it were an alternate universe where tight muscles and tense nerves do not exist. Beauty of nature that softly beckons to let go of everything else and simply take it in. A setting that clearly whispers be still and know that I am God.
I happily unpacked my things in the quaint, cozy room where I would spend the weekend. There was plenty of time to get settled in and relax before the evening’s events. I scanned my emails and messages to be sure that nothing important was left without a response and took a moment to review the latest social media posts. It was there I learned of the attacks in Paris. I quickly searched the web for more details as the sense of impending doom was knocking at my door. This is our world and the inability to be prepared for these kinds of horrific acts strikes fear in our hearts. The threats are bold and fierce and very real and we are at a loss as to what to do.
I gathered the initial facts and put down my phone. Seeking Him quickly is the only way to turn away the fear of impending doom. I offered up a familiar prayer of “God, I don’t even know what to pray!” In times past, that would be the end of a quick “God help them. God be with them.” prayer, but I have since learned to be still and literally ask God “What do You want me to pray?” It is not hard to understand and pray for the immediate need for safety and comfort and protection for those who remain in the wake of the horror. But somehow it still seems lacking.
In this great mystery that is prayer, God, who knows what we need before we ask, has chosen to involve us in a supernatural process. The more I’ve grown closer to Him and the more I’ve sought understanding, the more it has become evident that I really don’t know very much. Perhaps He will give me deeper understanding of why He involves us in the process. Or maybe He won’t. But He is teaching me more and more how to pray and that with or without understanding, He requires obedience. If the bible is true and He is God and He knows everything and I cannot do anything (eternal) without Him, then it is very clear that I must learn from Him what to pray.
We can spend much time in worrying and fretting. We can scream our opinions and blame our politicians, publicly shaming them for what we perceive as their lack of action to keep us safe. We can cry and moan and fear for our lives, and spread the fear to those around us. We can beg and plead with God to do something!! But is that really who we are? Is that what we are called to??
We must learn to quiet our souls.
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me – ceased from fretting. O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever. Psalm 131
Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. John 14:27
It is clear that He intended for us to participate in this: “I (David) have calmed… (You) Do not let…” We are able to bring our mind, will, and emotions into submission to His Spirit, which is the spirit of Peace. We must find that place of peace so that we can clearly hear His words to us and learn how to act in times of trouble rather than automatically react in our flesh.
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you. John 16:33
There are days I ask myself why I am so surprised when trouble comes. Duh. Jesus plainly said there would be trouble in this world. Our ability to quiet our souls and not be afraid comes from the confidence that we are not OF this world. THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY. Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and get a new perspective. This life has purpose and meaning and is important to God, but it is a wisp, a vapor in time compared to eternity.
What did God tell me to pray when I heard the news of Paris? He told me to pray that in midst of the pain and chaos and grief people are experiencing that they would find Him as Savior. He told me that the mission remains the same, Tell others about Me. I won’t be traveling to Paris to tell others about Jesus. But I will be putting feet to my prayers for those in my neighborhood. It’s not just the people of France who are afraid. It’s our families, our friends, our neighbors. If we are afraid right along with them, we have no message of hope to share, no comfort to give.
Draw away with me. Quiet your soul. Pray whatever the Father tells you to pray. Do whatever the Father tells you to do. Find supernatural Peace in troubled times. He is waiting…
“I have quieted my soul” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com
Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.