Peace Within the Gray

PWTGAre you in a gray area? You know, in one of those situation where God hasn’t said stop, but He also hasn’t said go? Though he clearly hasn’t said yes, He definitely hasn’t said no. Do you feel like you’ve been in this or at this for far too long, that it is far too painful, and that you are far too fragile to be able to stay here? Where is the solution? The door isn’t locked, but it isn’t really open either. Do you beg God for an answer? Any answer! Do you cry out to Him for the next step, or for assurance or confidence to do something other than just pray and pray and pray and pray?

Yeah, me too.

And I’ve heard it painfully expressed from so many people lately. Friendships, marriages, careers, and future plans are all in these drab, gray areas.

With my heavy heart thinking of my burdens and the burdens of so many around me, I went to the one place of true comfort, the only source of peace-God’s word. I needed to read and see that He hears me, and that He cares, and that He is doing something now or is going to do something soon. I needed that assurance and that comfort that there is a purpose for where I am at now, and that God can grant peace even in the gray area if I trust in Him.

Among other truths, I ended up being wonderfully encouraged by this compilation of verses all about God hearing us. As I read through them my anxious heart started to feel more at ease, and I noticed something. Twelve of the verses listed came from Psalms, many of which came from David. They sounded so confident. They sounded so sure. It made me wonder, did David really know gray areas?  Was his life mostly easy? Would he be able to comfort someone stuck in a rut?

So I looked up a chronology of David’s life and saw gray upon gray upon gray! I forget that this giant slaying, song writing, legendary man after God’s own heart, lived a very difficult life. Read the list! He was exiled from Saul for 9 years, endured a three year famine, involved in wars, committed horrendous sins of his own, and then saw his own family commit equally horrendous offensive sins, he was tormented during most of his son Absalom’s life, exiled again when he was 65 because of that very son, and many other untold heartaches I am sure.

Yet, this is the man who says all these things about God answering, and delivering, and listening, and saving, and being merciful, and being steadfast, and being gracious and good and loving.  How? And if he can, how can you and I?

Where I landed is that David did (and you and I should do) two main things. He looked back and he looked forward. When I say that “he looked back” I mean that he went through enough in life that he could reflect on and see God’s hand and faithfulness in each circumstance.  He could have confidence that God would not abandon him now because he clearly saw how God did not abandon him in the past.  And he looked WAY back, to the pages of scripture to know God’s character and who He is. And the second thing David models to us, is that He looks forward. He trusts God future plan of perfection. He knows that eventually (even if it is nine years later, or in eternity) God is going to bring resolution, and it will be in His perfect timing and His perfect way.

In order to, like David, have peace in the gray areas you must take time to cleanse your heart of cynicism and search for God. You must trust his Word and his goodness by praying and reading Scripture. That is the only way your heart will change. Yes, this is work. It takes time. It might be hard at first. It might feel like the cliché Sunday School answer. But you CANNOT have peace apart from God and his word. And you cannot know God apart from spending deliberate time with Him. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” So stop just thinking that peace or holiness or contentment is just going to come. It isn’t. It takes work. But the end result of peace is completely worth it-so do it. Look forward and know that you are not going to be in this situation forever; don’t waste this time. Look forward and trust God is working, and that He will work ALL things together for good. You want to grow and be better, and wiser, and more loving, and more patient because of this time. Life is full of ebbing and flowing, and after this trial will come another one, so learn to have peace now so that you can have it in every circumstance. Your gray area, it will be redeemed one way or another. Until that comes-cling to truth that God is present and faithful and loving and has a purpose-search Him to know.

Keep Moving Forward!

Perhaps you’ve heard this little quote by Grace Murray Hopper, an admiral in the United States Navy:

And I love this quote because so often we are fearful of the unknown and tempted to stay where we are comfortable and safe. We want to leave the harbor, but we don’t know where we should be going! Should we steer to starboard or to port? One thing is for sure, you can not steer to either if your boat is no in motion.

It is totally okay if are not sure about where God is leading you right now! But that doesn’t mean you can just idly sit in the harbor; you need to move forward. Because often times He does what He did with the Israelites after they escaped from Egypt. He could have parted the Red Sea DAYS before they got to it. They could have seen in the distance, “Look guys! The sea is parted! That is how God is going to deliver us from Pharaoh’s army! He’s done it! Hooray! Woopie! Ye-Haw!” (they, of course,  do a little dance of merriment) But no.

But that is not what He did.

He waited until they got right the edge of the water. He waited until they could taste the salt in the air and hear the sound of the beating hooves of the chariots, waited so they had no other option but to completely rely on God and trust Him wholeheartedly, and then, THEN he parted the Red Sea and they walked across on dry ground.

This might be that time for you. You might be waiting, walking, knowing that God has told you to take a next step, but you are not sure where to! You know what He is saying? He’s saying “Trust me, daughter. Keep moving forward. I will shut doors no one can open and open doors that no one can shut (Rev. 3:8)! I want you to glorify me with your life, and I WILL direct you to the best place for you to do that. Just seek me.”

As you move forward, the Holy Spirit will be sure to grant you peace if that is where our amazing Triune God wants you to be. He is the giver of peace! I love Proverbs 3:5-7 -“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.” The Lord’s timing is perfect, and though the path may not be EASY, He will make it straight. And because He is good and trustworthy and beautiful, you will grow to love and trust Him more because of this experience, of this I am sure!

We CAN Trust God

I think I’ve learned more about truly believing in the sovereignty of God these last few months than ever before in my life.  For a long time I’ve trusted and believed He was sovereign over the “big things” but that truth never really trickled down into my life and the things happening to me.  I would fear that I made a wrong decision and fear future outcomes because  of it. It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit, a deeper look into Scripture, and the wonderful encouragement of a mentor-that I’ve began to see how little I truly trusted God and his sovereignty and HOW MUCH I can and should.

Peace in every circumstance comes when I remind myself of His sovereign plan and purpose for me.  I cannot put into words the blessing that it has been to be able to stop my tears when I ask myself, “Is God not sovereign? Is He not working things out for your good and his glory? Does He not know you best and love you most? Is He not intimately involved and invested in your life? Are not His purposes greater than all else? Are not His ways perfect?”

Yesterday, I found this little hymn and was so encouraged by its words of truth. I put a new little tune to it and committed it to memory. I’ve already had to sing it to myself in a moment of anxiousness! Hopefully it blesses your heart as it blesses mine, and you too can be reminded that all your times are in His hands!

My Times are in Thy Hand

My times are in thy hand

Father I wish them there

My life, my soul, my all I leave entirely to thy care.

My life, my soul, my all I leave entirely to thy care.

 

My times are in thy hand

Whatever they may be

Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, As best may seem to thee

Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, As best may seem to thee

 

My times are in thy hand

Why should I doubt or fear

My father’s hand will never cause his child a needless tear

My father’s hand will never cause his child a needless tear

 

My times are in thy hand

Jesus the crucified

The hand my many sins once pierced is now my Guard and Guide

The hand my many sins once pierced is now my Guard and Guide

 

You Might be the Answer to Your Own Prayer

There are some people in my life that I pray for pretty consistently. And I pray for them about the most important thing I can pray for anyone about-their relationship with God. Often times I say something like this:

“Lord I care so deeply for ________, and I know you care for them even more. Please Lord, I know that they will only be whole if they stop trying to live life on their own and they run to you. I so badly want them to find purpose and joy and in you. I want to be able to talk to them about how amazing and faithful and fulfilling you are. Father, please, do whatever you have to in their life to bring them back to you. Do whatever it takes for them to see their need and find their meaning in you. Help them see the truth. I love and trust you. Amen.”

And I pray that and I mean that. But I am still surprised when it starts to happen.  We God starts to allow things in their life to unravel to show them that HE is more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. That HE is the only true love, real friend, steadfast peace, and eternal hope that they can have. But they can’t always see it on their own. Not past their own tears, confusion, and pain-they are blinded by it. So again I pray “help them see the truth”.

Then I realize that God has been preparing my heart for this. That I am not supposed to stand idely by and watch them grapple with purposelessness, but instead I need to be ready to help them see what God wants them to see. I don’t want this opportunity to come and for me to miss the role that God wants me to play in it because I am too afraid to “offend” or “make things awkward”.

I guess my point to all of this is to say, that if you have someone in your life (like I do right now) who is hurting badly, I think that you might be the answer to your own prayer. If you have been praying for them and God allows trials to come, maybe through the power of the Holy Spirit it is YOU who is supposed to be breathing truth and weaving the beauty of the gospel into the tapestry of their story. Pray for words of wisdom, the perfect mixture of love and boldness, and divine appointments to know when to be silent and when to speak to help them see the truth.

Peace Will Come

Here’s a little song I’ve been working on. It’s been really neat to see the lyrics transform over the months from bitterness to hope. Maybe one day I’ll show you the first draft!  It’s really neat to be able to see God’s grace permeate different areas of my life.  Enjoy!

(Oh, and by the way-the tune goes something like this: bum ba da dum da da dum da da dumm bum bum bum bummmm bummmm baaaa buummmm.” Just so you can know what it sounds like.)

Music

Fairy Tales or Fate

Verse 1:

Sometimes I sleep so peacefully.

Sometimes it’s not for days.

Sometimes I see my future crystal clear

But, most times it’s just a haze.

And thru every season,

And every trial

If you look straight through me

I’m still the girl with the batting, brown eyes and the crooked smile.

My crooked smile.

Verse 2

Sometimes I pray about tomorrow

Sometimes I pray straight thru today

Most things I ask for are black and white

Though this is oh so gray

And through every memory

Both good and wrong

If I look inside me

There’s still a reason to write, to play, and to a sing a new song.

Sing a new song.

Chorus:

I will not cling to fairy tales or fate

You allow some hardships

And that’s okay

I believe what your Word has to say

Obeying you cannot be a mistake

I can trust you with our breaking hearts

Knowing peace will come one day

Verse 3

Sometimes I sit on the sidewalk

Sometimes I run in the rain.

I’ve got joy, joy, joy down in my heart, but

I still know pain.

And through every hopeful night

And all my questioning

If I look up at my Elohim

You are the one who knows, permits, and redeems all things.

You redeem things.

I will not cling to fairy tales or fate

You allow some hardships

And that’s okay

I believe what your Word has to say

Obeying you cannot be a mistake

I can trust you with our breaking hearts

Knowing peace will come one day

*Modulation*

I will not cling to fairy tales or fate

You allow some hardships

And that’s okay

I believe what your Word has to say

Obeying you cannot be a mistake

I can trust you with this breaking heart

I trust you with this breaking heart

I trust you with my broken heart

Put my faith in your Sovereign grace

Knowing peace will come one day.