Whenever I find myself “out of peace”, it should prompt me to ask “why”. Why am I out of peace…why am I not content…why am I uneasy…. what’s going on? It’s a grace to actually pause long enough to ask these questions. When I don’t pause, I tend to move quickly into the “blame game”, into the “victim scenario”, i.e. the reason I’m out of peace is because I’ve been wronged, harmed, cheated …. I’m the victim of some unrighteous actions. Hmmmmm maybe, but probably not.
For the last 30+ years of my work life, I worked for a Christian non-profit corporation and received what is called a “sacrificial (minimal) salary”. It was a privilege and honor to be given this opportunity. My prior work life had been focused on being a success in Corporate America….. advanced education, moving around the country to take advantage of opportunities, flying on corporate jets, giving presentation to the Board of Directors at my “Fortune 100 Company”. I was doing well, making a very good salary, and on the cusp of more advancement. But something was missing and I was very happy to lay that aside to place my “time, treasure, and talents” at the service of the Lord. I have no regrets about this move. The Lord has always provided…30, 60, and 100 fold. I was peaceful and grateful that I had this opportunity…. and still am today.
Yet there was a moment as I moved into retirement that my convictions were tested. I had no retirement plan and trusted that things would work out, anticipating some modest help with my health insurance plans. When my expectations were not met, I became agitated and felt wronged, ….. “after all my sacrifices …bla,bla,bla…. after all I did……bla,bla,bla.” I had trusted the Lord for all those years, raising 10 kids, living simply, and then when tested once more, I felt wronged, mistreated. I’m happy to say that the Lord helped me thru this trial and I was able to regain my peace and again trust the Lord. He had always taken care of me and I knew he always would. I asked the Lord to forgive me for my ingratitude, remembering that you can never out give the Lord in generosity. And as my tailor can tell you, “I’ve never missed a meal”.
So, what’s the point of this BLOG? Back in the 1950’s when I was a child walking to school, we were taught to “stop, look, and listen, before you cross the street”. So when you lose your peace, I’d say to “stop, look, and listen”. Stop and ask the Lord, “what’s going on … why am I out of peace … look around, listen to the Holy Spirit”. We all get knocked on our fanny at times. We all overreact at times. We all make rash judgements at times. The important thing is to stop and listen to the Lord and find out what’s really going on. What is God trying to tell me… what area of my life needs further work. God uses challenges to get our attention and purify us. Look at the apostles, at Peter, Thomas, and all the rest. Peter failed, but the Lord used that failure to equip him with mercy and compassion so he could “strengthen his brothers” in his new role as head of the church.
Let’s not be discouraged when we’re surprised by life’s challenges and our resulting failures. God will work them to the good, if we but “stop, look, and listen” to the Holy Spirit. And that is very good news.