I am emerging from a long, long, long period of unrest and war in my heart, my spirit, my soul. It is the only way to describe my lack of peace. The more I would fight and strive to find, keep and secure my peace, the more frantic and hopeless I would become.
Though I cast my expectations on others, almost demanding that they bring me peace, I was faint of heart, weak and weary. No one could meet my need. Not even the Lord. I sought Him! I prayed, I cried, I lamented. Nothing. Just more inner and outer turmoil.
Circumstances in my life that were (and are) beyond my control would send me spiraling downward and daily activities became too overwhelming. I managed to keep my head above water but I had begun to stay under for longer lengths of time. Thoughts of why and how and what-if raced in my head constantly. It was like being in a crowd of thousands of people, all talking at me, simultaneously. No one person speaks clearly but individual words would break through the cacophony of voices which made up nonsense verses in my head.
Do or die time came. I knew that something had to change or survival may not be an option.
Last week, I packed two huge suitcases, checked into a hotel for a week and the only expectation I had was to hear from the Lord. I needed something. Anything!
Within the first few days, my mind settled and was at rest.
But with one phone call, bringing yet another crisis, the race was on again. I wept before the Lord begging for my peace to return. God sent me to His scriptures and challenged me to look up “peace” and see what I would have to do to be at peace.
Over and over the Bible talks about the peace offering which was an offering of thanksgiving. Paul tells us not to worry and fret about things but to present our requests with thanksgiving and God’s peace will guard our hearts.
That is what has been missing from my life. I haven’t been cultivating that spirit of thanksgiving and all of my cries for peace were thwarted by my gnashing and wailing and moaning over my circumstances. I haven’t even been grateful for the good things much less the trials which bring faith maturing opportunities.
It is easy to be thankful for the blessings in my life but that isn’t a sacrifice. The sacrifice comes when I can be grateful for the difficult times, the trials, the broken hearts. I have discovered that if I won’t be grateful for EVERYTHING, including the bad, I can’t be grateful for ANYTHING including the good.
Just as I am typing this post, the simple praise song is in my head . . .
I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter his courts with praise
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.
The song describes that if I want to enter his gates and into his presence and ultimately his peace, I must do so through the means of thanksgiving.
I found Sacrifice of Thanksgiving to be very helpful in understanding this peace offering. To summarize what I learned:
The sacrifice of thanksgiving makes the way for peace in my life. Nothing is to be left out; I must be thankful for all things in my life. Not just easy and difficult circumstances but also those things in my life that were meant for evil. My words of thanksgiving go directly to God and He is pleased with them. I am able to be thankful for all things in my life because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving brings communion with God and with others. It is impossible to be in conflict with someone if I am nurtuing a grateful spirit toward them . . . that is true peace. Yesterday’s thankfulness will not suffice for today. I must cultivate my gratefulness anew each day.
So tonight, before I go to sleep, when I seek peace for the night hours, I thank God
- For hearing me when I cried.
- For being an on-time God who did not let me suffer one more minute.
- For welcoming arms that hugged me and held me when I returned home today.
- For playing simple games and hearing my children cheer and encourage each other.
and lest I forget being grateful for ALL things
- For a daughter who has wandered, who was protected by the hand of the Lord in my womb, who was brought into this world with great gift and talent, who turned my life around, who tests my trust in the Lord. I ask for His provision and protection and guidance over her every moment. I release her into His hands . . . not as if it is a one time decision . . . I am releasing her everyday, letting go, trust Him.
Thank you Father God.
Immersed in the Mystery,