I’ve been struggling what to write for a post since last week. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in God’s word and in other readings. As you know, I’ve been writing and reading about The Quest for Serenity, but it seems to have evaded me this week when it comes to finding peace in a focused topic. So here are some late-night ramblings …
Life has so many unexpected adventures and experiences. How difficult life can get for some that they end up overwhelmed, struggling with depression, health issues, financial burdens, to the point where they can’t cope and just can’t find peace. Recently someone I used to teach in youth group decided to end his own life. There are so many unanswered questions when someone decides this. It is such a burden and loss for the family and friends left behind. It leaves such an incredible void. It really made me do some serious thinking once again about what is really important.
In my small circle of friends, family and acquaintances, there are people dealing with all types of issues: divorce, financial difficulties, job uncertainties, infertility, countless health issues, problems with parent-child relations, problems with other relationships, and job stress. Life is full of trials. My husband had a heart procedure in January and will face another in July. I find myself playing one of my not-so-favorite games – “What-If?” I’ve done it with so many changes in life. I should realize it is such a waste of precious time and energy (and sleep). Instead, over and over I play the different scenarios of what the future holds.
Here are a few things that have played in my mind the past couple of weeks:
In The Quest for Serenity, G.H. Morling shares from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, when Paul was in prison. Paul tells them, “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Paul also wrote these words,
“I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what He is doing through me.” -Philippians 1:20-26
Morling shares this quote:
Competency to deal with things as they arise and the confidence that goes with it are essential to serenity.
I am challenged by that quote to be filled with the truths of the verses above.
I find myself becoming concerned and then progressively worrying about life’s issues: Will I get something in writing to post on this blog? What lies ahead with Rich’s procedure? Will the pain in my friends’ lives ever go away? Will a planned family gathering go well? Will the health of family members improve or continue to decline? The list is seemingly endless.
Yet God reminds me of these precious words:
“I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:25-34
If I take the time to remember that God is in control, so I don’t have to worry about the details, I am so much better off and filled with His peace and serenity.
Basking in the blessing of serenity that comes from God’s perspective and grateful for His strength in difficult times ~ Faye
Why does guilt plague me? I feel guilty, not just bad, for not getting more things posted since I started working. At least I did struggle with the guilt feelings until God had another sit-down talk with me. God reminded me that this is His blog, I’m just His tool. He has always given me something to write about that has been a benefit to myself and/or others. So why do I let worry and guilt fester?
As I was sitting in the infusion chair yesterday, I was continuing to read from Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell. God’s timing being ALWAYS PERFECT, I found myself in a section that talked about overcoming the struggle with guilt. I thought I’d share a story from the book,
A minister in the north of England, who oppressed by guilt, had a breakdown, was advised by a wise doctor to concentrate on biblical passages expressing love, mercy, and forgiveness,temporarilyputting aside the ones on condemnation and judgment. The minister followed the doctor’s advice, and he was wonderfully restored.
I was waiting on a 20-something lady the other day who was struggling to make her hands work to get the money separated for payment. She was quickly apologizing for the time, and I was blessed to be able to say, “It’s okay. Take your time. I have R.A. and remember what it was like to struggle to pull up the bedsheet with my fingers.” Immediate relief seemd to pour over her face at not being judged or pressured. God’s grace is like that. God isn’t there ready to condemn – He’s ready to pour out His abundant grace on each one of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.
Paul says in Romans 5:20 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
God gives us His grace – abundant, freely given, unconditional, and inexhaustible in supply. Psalm 23 tells of God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Too often, we are our own worst enemy heaping on guilt and not being filled with God’s grace which in turn brings spiritual rest, peace, serenity and joy.
I’m praying that you will be blessed with the joy and peace that comes from resting in God’s inexhaustible grace ~ Faye
P.S. The incident with the young lady, reminded me of how abundantly God has blessed me – a good rheumatologist, medicines that have given me the ability to work a full day, and the support of family and friends.
I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.
These are all words that fit the definition of the word “onomatopoeia.” An “onomatopoeia” is defined as a the state or condition of a word formed to imitate the sound of its intended meaning, such as hiss, buzz, murmur, rustle. Over the years when I’ve looked at “Peace,” “Tranquility,” or “Serenity”, I imagine them coming to life as I write them on a page in my sermon notes. P-e-a-c-e just languishes on the tongue and makes one desire quiet calm. Se-ren-i-ty is a flowing, long, drawn-out word that when pronounced that way just brings a harmony to one’s world. Tr-a–n-qui-l-i-ty, likewise, lends itself to a feeling of restfulness and stillness. I visualize these words as scripty, flowing from a pen and off the tongue.
Our lives are so busy and we are bombarded every moment of the day it seems by the things that need to be done. Words like serenity and tranquility rarely fit in our vocabulary. Yet God wants us to be filled with His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
We can’t be filled with the peace – serenity – tranquility that comes from God unless we hand over our worries and fears to Him. Do you have a loved one who isn’t saved? Surrender them over to God in prayer. It’s not your battle to save them. It is God’s. God requires you to love them with the unconditional love of God. You are radiate Christ’s life to everyone. When you find yourself really loving someone through God’s eyes, you are filled with a serenity that comes from knowing God is in control and you have surrendered your will to His.
Are you frustrated with a body that isn’t working as well as it used to? Remember that you are uniquely made. Jesus knows what you are going through and more. Pour out your heart to Him and be filled with a tranquility that only comes from the Holy Spirit bringing you peace.
G.H. Morling says, “It is much that God the Father is above me; it is more that God the Son is for me; it is still more that God the Holy Spirit is within me.” When we live with this focus, we will be filled with the blessings of peace ~ serenity ~ tranquility from God.
May the blessings of grace and peace be yours from God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ~ Faye
Serenity doesn’t come from a life without trials. Look at the life of Jesus. He faced betrayal, hatred, beatings, family and friends disowning Him, poverty, and yet He was filled with an inner peace and calm. This calm came from KNOWing the Father intimately. There are many things in life that rob us of serenity – resentment, jealousy, bitterness, worry, pride, and busyness. I have learned over the years how much more I am filled with God’s peace when I am in His word daily. Being busy working in a garden center during spring, I’m finding I can always find more work to do, but I’m also having to intentionally remind myself to stop – slow down – and spend time in God’s word. If I don’t spend time with God daily, I’m finding that my times of walking and talking with Him aren’t as peace-filled, my life doesn’t have an inner calm about it. I realize I am missing what I really desire. Fortunately the boss wasn’t pushing me to keep doing, I was. Once again I need to reprioritize my time and refocus where God wants me to be.
I found I have been reacting to the events around me and as the spring-planting frenzy grows, I was thriving on the busyness of doing, but was suffering from the serenity that comes from resting in God. Whether that is quiet time talking, praying or reflecting on His word and acts in my life, reading His word or singing His praises, I know I desire that serenity even more during the busyness of life.
An old hymn, written by Horatius Bonar, reflects where God wants us to focus:
I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me and rest; lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon My breast.’ I came to Jesus as I was, weary, and worn, and sad; I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
I pray that the blessing of “God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Faye
I have talked with several people this week who are concerned over loved one’s behavior and choices, or facing serious health issues, or decisions about their future employment or move. I’ve spoke with a parent who is beating themselves up about their child’s lifestyle and how they could have changed things somehow, maybe … I’ve been in conversations about the mistakes – no, let’s call it what it really is – sin – we as Christians make daily and how that is observed from an unbeliever. Over the span of a few days I’ve found myself wanting to fix problems that were out of my control. I’ve found myself wanting to be bolder in my faith to have answered when someone challenged about someone calling themselves a Christian and yet spent time gossiping. And I’ve struggled with God trying to find the wisdom to know what I should do in certain situations.
We all want do-overs in life. There’s a part of us that wants to live a perfect life, but sin is ever-present in this earthly world. I’ve enjoyed reading The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell several times over the past decade. Morling wrote the chapter, Leaving It All Quietly to God, based on portions of Psalm 62. Bell included a poem that reminded me not to live life with regrets but to give them over to God so that I may live a life filled with serenity that comes from God alone.
Leave quietly to God ~ My mistakes. The sins and shortcomings of others. The mistakes of others. That which is none of my business. Politics and world affairs. That which I cannot get done. And that which I cannot get undone. The un-understandable. That for which I am not remotely responsible.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Psalm 138:8
Praying you will be blessed with God’s serenity ~ Faye
I seem to be surrounded with this topic this past week from Bible study, to worship planning, to family questions. So thought I’d share what I think contentment means to me. A quote from Dr. Billy Graham reminds us that we can be content within, even when everything seems to be very difficult:
The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through tears.
The Apostle Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). Those words sound simple, but look at Saul/Paul’s life. He spells out some of many things that have happened to him (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 – imprisoned, beaten, left for dead, stoned, shipwrecked, always in danger, hungry, sleepless), yet later he says he’s learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
But is it always that easy? My nephew asked a questions this morning on Facebook, “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” There is no easy answer. God does what He decides in His timing. But when we rely on Him, we are filled with a calm assurance He is in control. He knows the bigger picture about what is best for us. Not necessarily what we want or desire, but what we need to help shape us into the person He wants us to be.
I think too often I focus on me, my pain, my discomfort, my fatigue. I don’t step back and look at the bigger picture – my faith has grown during my life, but it has really GROWN during the deepest trials. I’m not content with the trial, but I am content knowing that God is with me. He’s living in me, guiding me ahead each day, giving me strength for what comes next.
My husband is a men’s quartet fan, and so we have listened many years to the Cathedral Quartet. Years ago, George Younce read this poem by Red Foley
Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her….she seemed so gay….and wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed….a smile!
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine!
I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him. He seemed so glad. If I were late, t’would do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes. The world is mine.
Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play. I stopped a moment,
When I said, “Why don’t you join the others, Dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
with ears to hear what I would know….
Oh God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
After the poem, they would end with We Are So Blessed, by Bill and Gloria Gaither
We are so blessed, by the gifts of Your hand we just can’t understand why You loved us so much. We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.” When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
We are so blessed by the things You have done, the victories we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all everything, Lord, we bring it to You. When we’re empty You fill us ’till we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.
A lot of contentment is just about perspective. Take time to see how God is pouring out His abundant blessings on you today. Have you seen Him? Please share, I love His divine appointments, encouragements, acts.
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye