But the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. (Matthew 14:24) NIV
Sometimes God has been that wind. I started off in my own direction and the wind was against my plans, against my wandering heart, against my half-hearted pursuit of Himself, against my attempts at love outside of His will, against my foolish pride and stubbornness, against my decisions, against anything that would keep me from Him and my destiny in Him. I am thankful for the wind of His Spirit being against me, pushing me so that He can freely flow through me as He turns me toward the safe haven of His love. I need the rushing mighty wind of His Holy Spirit to cause a course correction, to teach me something about myself or Him that I would not have otherwise known. (Acts 2:2)
Sometimes adversity has been that wind. Just before the above verse Jesus makes the disciples get into a boat and head across the sea for the other side. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. Jesus knew that the wind would be against them. He knew they were struggling to get to the other side. Instead of going immediately to them we read in verse 25, Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. The fourth watch was between three and six in the morning. He was praying alone in the evening. This means that they were out on the sea fighting a contrary wind for many hours.
Have you been here? Fighting the winds of affliction, sickness, loss, rejection, fear, doubt, despair, turmoil within and without? Wondering where Jesus is? As Peter and the others found out, although He seemed delayed in His coming, He was right there, He saw them in their adversity, and He walked out to meet them in it. As Peter stepped out of the boat at the Lord's command and began to walk toward Jesus on the water , ...he saw that the wind was boisterous, and he was afraid and began to sink... (vs 29). Here we see the wind being a violent distraction, and often that is just what our circumstances are---distractions to keep us from walking in faith toward Christ. But...when they got into the boat the wind ceased. (vs 32) The winds swirling all around us are no match for the unparalleled presence of Christ.
Jesus is Lord of the wind and the waves. He commands the wind whether it is the wind of adversity, or the strong wind of His Spirit pushing against us, keeping us from blowing off course in our own selfish desires. Don't fear the wind nor be distracted by it's force, but rather let it carry you to ever higher levels of faith! The wind that comes is sent to refine you, to blow away the rough edges and to ever bring you into the safe harbor of His grace and love. The wind is meant to bring you into His presence, onto your knees, deeper into intimacy with Him. He never promised to keep you out of the wind and waves, but He did promise to never leave you nor forsake you in them... (Hebrews 13:5)
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"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
A single tree does not make a forest.
A small group of trees does not make a forest.
A forest is a vast, dense sea of trees.
A forest is a place you can get lost in.
A forest is a place you can get found in.
A forest holds untold beauty.
A forest holds untold danger.
A forest is dark.
A forest is light.
A forest is awe-inspiring.
A forest is intimidating.
A forest is full of life.
A forest is full of death.
Our hearts are like a forest. They are light and dark, life and death, beauty and danger, awe-inspiring and intimidating, a place where we get lost, a place where we are found. Like a forest they are wild and untamed, yet they can be a place of quiet and rest.
There are many of us who stay on the fringes of our hearts, not wanting to delve into the vast expanse of dominating trees for fear of getting lost among them. There are a brave few who venture into the depth of the forest of their hearts and abide in all of its wild untamed wonder. There are fewer still who invite the One who made their hearts into their forest, knowing that He will want to tear some of the trees up to make a clearing for His grace. He will want to push some of the trees over to make a bridge for His mercy. He will want to cut some of the trees down to build a refuge from the storms of life. He will want to tap some of the trees and let them pour forth the sap of sorrow. He will want to carve some of the trees into sculptures of remembrance. He will want to let every tree be seen as a stake in the ground that marks the territory that The Tree has forever marked as His.
Can you see the forest for the trees? He is after the whole forest of your heart, not the singular trees at its fringes. It is the inner depths of the forest of your heart He wants access to: the light and the dark, the beauty and the danger, the life and the death, the awe-inspiring and the intimidating. He wants access to the places we get lost in our own hearts, so that we can be found in His heart, in the forest of His love...
"Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel." (Isaiah 44:23)
"I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods."
"...That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3b)
"Moses My servant is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them---the children of Israel." (Joshua 1:2)
My dad passed away Wednesday afternoon. I am sad to say he was not the best of fathers, and for the past three years we have had no contact. He made that choice. There are many unanswered questions, many things that I do not understand about a heart that could close itself off from his six children, from his many grandchildren, and never try to set it right, never surrender fully to the grace and love of Christ.
He was my dad. I choose to love him despite the pain he caused. I choose to forgive him even though he rejected me. I choose to move forward now that he is gone.
Our first impulse in loss is to dive into the sorrow and dwell there...to drown in it. But God told Joshua to get ready to move, to cross the Jordan: to go forward after Moses' death. It is easy to become stuck in our grief, in our disappointment, in our sorrow, but we were not meant to stay there. We were made to move forward, to handle our sorrow in the right spirit, to trust the Lord with our heartache. Psalm 23:4 says, "Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 84:5-7 says, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain covers it with pools, they go from strength to strength..." Baca means "weeping." Both valleys were places of sorrow, but in both places, as they passed 'through' they found that their sorrow was replaced with comfort and strength.
Through is a word that signifies continuous action. If I ask you to go through a tunnel, it is implied that you will come out the other side. Likewise if we are asked to go through a time of sorrow, even if we feel like the seemingly flimsy sailboat pictured above facing a raging storm of pain, we can rest assured that we will come through it. We will not only come through it but we will move from "strength to strength" because of it. His strength takes over our weakness, which in turn gives us renewed strength and the confidence to trust Him more deeply, to move forward more assuredly, to be "persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
When we remain in our sorrow it overtakes our life, we become consumed by it, and in this place of continual pain God's purpose is put on hold. Our sorrow is not just about our loss, our pain, our suffering. In the life of a believer it is always about others. Our pain can become the catalyst for our purpose. The very thing that is hurting you so deeply right now, can become the very thing that God uses to touch someone else, to bring healing to others, and to move you into your divine destiny. BUT in order for this to happen you have to make the choice to move forward, to cross over the Jordan, to allow God "to give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." (Isaiah 61:3)
Choose to move forward...ever forward!!!
qUIET IN CHAOS
Quiet in Chaos is a blog about nothing, everything, and all things inbetween…it’s a space, an ellipsis, a deep pause. Life can be chaotic, and often needs more moments of quiet…So join me as I share and give through the written word, the place I find my Quiet in Chaos…