‘Yes, Lord’

These two words have redefined my life in more ways I could ever recall. Throughout this month as we have been talking about peace, I have taken time to think about all the moments I have felt surreal peace. Every single situation that came to mind began with the words, “yes, Lord.”

Obedience is tricky. It is not natural, goes against my innate nature, and if I am honest, usually means doing the exact opposite of what I want to do. And something tells me, I am not alone in that feeling. It did not take me long to find story after story in the bible of people who loved the Lord and rebelled because they did not like the path God was asking them to walk.

Let’s look at Jonah…super popular Sunday school story that every church kid knows as the time God commanded a whale to swallow some dude because he did not obey and then was regurgitated three days later. Or if they had not heard the story on a Sunday morning, they definitely watched the veggie tale version. ;]

Jonah was a prophet and he was asked by God to go to Nivevah and warn them about their upcoming destruction. Instead of going where the Lord had commanded him to go, he hopped on a ship and sailed in the complete opposite direction of the Lord, to a place called Tarshish (Jonah 1:1-3). Jonah thought he could run from God, but reality set in when a huge storm came and he was found sleeping in the inner part of the ship when the captain came running down asking him to call to his god for help.

Pausing the story now. I would hate to be Jonah right now because he knew he was in complete and total rebellion and disobeying God and was being asked to call upon the Lord for help. He was being asked to beg God to save their lives.

The shipmates cast lots to see who was at fault for bringing evil upon them, and of course, the lot fell on Jonah. Sin was brought to the light as those on the ship learned Jonah was fleeing the presence of the Lord and he told the men to cast him into the sea. The end of chapter one says God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. Three days later the fish spits Jonah out and again God tells him to go take the message to Ninevah and spoiler alert, the city was saved.

Growing up, it was way too easy to point the finger at Jonah and say how stupid he was for ignoring God and thinking he could run off and not be seen or need to confront his disobedience. But I believe if we are all honest, we are no different than Jonah. More times than not, God will ask me to do something and instead of saying, Yes Lord, I will do *fill in the blank,* I say no. And metaphorically speaking, I then am swallowed into the stomach of a fish and have to deal with my decisions.

There is no peace at all in disobeying God. I will be the first to say I have experienced firsthand the peace of saying yes and the torment of running away and I don’t believe I am alone in that category. We receive peace when we walk in obedience because peace is not just a feeling, it is a person. Rarely are we as believers called to do the easy task or walk the smoothest roads. But when we know and have Christ as our lifeline, the more steps we take in obedience, the closer we are to peace himself. When we say no and turn back, we run from the peace freely offered to us.

I don’t know what God is asking you to say ‘yes Lord’ to. But everyday we come to a crossroad, we either obey or disobey. The wonderful news is even when we turn away, God never leaves us and the cross is always welcoming to repentant sinners.

Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I wrote about the peace of repentance a couple weeks ago, I suppose this is the prequel of that. This post is getting longer than I planned, but bear with me…

We saw the turmoil brought by the storm when we say no to God, but I want to touch on the peace we find when we say yes. A couple years ago I was asked by God to leave my home church and move an hour away from what was comfortable and the place I grew up for 21 years. I walked into this new church, in a new town, with new people, only knowing a handful of them in a room filled with strangers. I had visited the church before, but never with the full intent of pursuing it as my “home.” Until one Sunday in August. To be exact, August 24, 2014…two and a half days after my grandma passed away from cancer. That particular Sunday, church was kind of the last place I wanted to be, but I knew God was asking me to go and that week there was a prophetic word given to those who were hurting and felt burdened by life. Although I did not acknowledge to anyone I identified with what was shared, it was that moment I knew beyond a shadow of doubt God was calling me to move. And so I did.

In saying yes Lord in this, the amount of blessings that have come are innumerable. Life is not easier because I obeyed God’s calling, but the peace that fell upon me as I was preparing to move is surreal. Obedience is never easy, actually it’s usually the hardest road to walk, but one step after another it suddenly becomes a little easier. One act of obedience leads to another and another and another and before you know it, you’re experiencing a peace like never before…because you are walking toward peace himself.

Say yes Lord today. Start small, but keep walking toward him, even when it is hard. He is not going to turn you away, but instead, He’ll walk each step with you.

Until next time,
Christi

Peace defined by Children

 

As I was typing my first draft of this post I was joined (distracted) by two kids who came knocking on the door of the cabin I currently call home. It was an admittedly welcomed distraction. The first thing I asked them was to define Peace for me. I wasn’t sure what answers I would get from a thirteen-year-old and a six-year-old, but their answers made me smile.

The thirteen-year-old talked about a sense of calmness, sort of like a sigh of relief. I liked this image quite a lot. Thinking of when everything around me starts to go crazy and then once it’s over taking a deep breath. A sense of peace really does wash over you. It makes me think of  Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s such a simple thought and yet it brings such a sense of peace and calmness knowing that we can simply put our trust in Him, and He will take care of it all.

Now the six-year-old responded with a response that was a bit confusing to me at first. When I asked him what peace meant to him, he said “God’s Love”. I responded, “What?” and he repeated, “God’s Love, sharing God’s Love!”. Now it made more sense to me.   God’s Love is the definition of peace. How do we find peace? Through God’s Love. How is peace even a possible concept for us to feel? Because of God’s never-ending love for us.

I feel blessed knowing that even though I’m a leader, and I teach different things to other people, that I can also be on the other side of the spectrum as a learner. Learning things, and realizing that people have different viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, is one of my favorite things.

Until next time,
– Sarah

GUEST BLOGGER: Finding Peace

Bringing you another introduction to preface an awesome guest blogger post! This month’s guest is Kayla! Kayla worked with Christi and I this past summer at Camp Sandy Cove where she was in charge of all things pool (and then some). I loved every time I had to lifeguard a little bit more because it meant I got to spend time in Kayla’s presence. She’s fantastic and is going to do incredible things. This is her first ever blog post, and I can’t wait for you all to hear what she has to say! -Sarah

Finding Peace

Every morning I am in a rush out the door, I try to find enough time in my day for a decent amount of sleep and time to get everything accomplished on my to do list. I am constantly thinking about upcoming assignments, my work schedule, keeping in touch with my family, and making sure my friends still know I am there for them! I am sure you know that overwhelming feeling that can flood your mind at times and is sometimes difficult to drain. When I find myself in this situation I think to myself, “there is no point worrying about the things I cannot change,” As Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” I ask God to take care of those things and trust in Him that He will. After this thought goes through my mind, that is when I find peace.

Peace:

  • Freedom of war
  • Tranquility
  • Mental calm
  • Harmony

Peace is a universal concept yet everyone may have his or her own way to define it. Even for me it has multiple definitions; peace is a place, a state of mind, security, and stillness. How do you define peace?

Peace is somewhere I can go to get away from my extremely busy life. Most often I find peace in my truck as I am driving to class, work or the gym. I am thankful to have a peaceful place, which I visit multiple times a day. Peace plays through my speakers while the hustle and bustle of my college campus surrounds me. As I sit at the stoplight I watch the students hurrying by trying to cross the street before my light turns green. I hear a lyric break through the static on the K-luv station “be still and know that he is God.” I am reminded of Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” If peace could scream it would scream this verse but instead you must seek peace in order to find it.  So often in life, we are distracted by the hundreds of things going on in our day that we forget to be still.  This verse reminds me of the power God has, letting it be known He is lifted to the highest power on earth and in heaven! Knowing the most powerful force loves me feels like a security blanket. By trusting in the Lord you too can have that comfort that He has a clear path for you, to not worry about the things you can not change but find peace in that your plan is specific for you. Lean on the Lord for guidance and strength and you can find peace within. I want to encourage you to find peace throughout your day, reminding you to talk to thank God, give your worries to Him and seek comfort through Him.

May you find Peace,
Kayla

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @k4yyyyl4
snapchat: @kkaylabbrand

Peace of Repentance

When I take a step back and look at this world, my life, the things that surround me, peace is not exactly something I think of or immediately see. The news tells of acts of violence, day to day life brings a variety of trials, doing life with those around me often times does not result in peace but is messy and hard. This got me thinking what exactly I define “peace” as and how in the world am I going to write a couple blog posts about it.

And I didn’t know if that answer would come in time for this post and then I slowly began to find a different understanding of peace. An understanding of what peace is not. If I am honest, learning my understanding of what peace is not had me quite frustrated and I have struggled to put this post into words. This past week I have asked God to show me what His peace is. What it feels like. Where it comes from. How does one attain it. At first, He did not reveal anything and again, I got quite frustrated.

Until one night after photographing a concert for Ginny Owens. The show went a lot later than expected and I already was under the weather and fighting a cold, so the volunteer coordinator let me leave the show early. I was walking out of the venue and in the background heard the words “Jesus thank you for the fire” being sung. This got me thinking…a lot.

I live over an hour away from the venue and had lots of time to think and process. I admitted with a slight chuckle that I do not thank God for the fires in my life because they just are not fun and are often chaotic and overall just hard seasons to walk through. I asked God to humble my heart and what turned into a prayer for a sister of mine, resulted in a prayer from the deepest parts of my heart asking God for help, forgiveness, comfort, guidance, and ultimately to give me His peace. I came to realize repentance was missing in my world, thus my lack of peace was because there were parts of my heart I didn’t want God inside of. I started to put to words what peace is not:

Peace is not the absence of chaos.

Peace is not a life void of trials.

Peace is not always a quieted mind.

Peace does not always come in a stilled soul.

As these understandings of what peace is not started to fall into place, I began to comprehend what peace is to me. Yesterday (Tuesday) I was preparing for community group with my church later that evening, we were having a relatively chill night around a campfire and devoted the night to prayer, looking at the crucifixion of Christ, and reading a couple verses in Philippians. The two verses were the flip side of the peace equation I was trying to solve….check it out…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Peace is that still small voice inside my heart that whispers the promises of truth in the midst of chaos.

Peace is feeling when my trials seem to overtake me that then gives me the courage to take one more step toward the finish line.

Peace is when my minds won’t stop racing and my heart is overwhelmed, but falling into the arms of Jesus

Peace is when my soul is all stirred up and that faint whisper reminds me to rest and be still.

To me, peace can be found in the quietest places of the forest or the craziest parts of our lives. Peace is that still small voice in my heart that reminds me of what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable in God’s eyes. Peace comes when we are obedient to Christ, when we repent of our sinful ways and turn to the cross, then sprint back into the arms of the Prince of Peace.

Since that car ride home from the concert, no circumstances in my life have changed, but my perception of them has. I am overwhelmed with peace because God has tuned my ears to hear His voice above the noise and chaos in my heart. Wherever you are, find a place to be still and ask the Holy Spirit to incline your ear to His voice, to bring conviction and lead you in repentance, to take you back to Christ. And then rest there. It’s a beautiful place to be.

I hope you find peace this week. Go be with Jesus and ask Him for it

~Christi

 

Companionable Silences

April is upon us which means we are changing gears from Joy and heading into Peace! 

I can’t recall the first time I heard the term ‘companionable silence’. But this simple term has explained so much to me. Think of it this way: you are sitting in a room with a few of your favorite humans when a sudden silence washes over the group. It’s not an awkward pause, where thoughts come rushing to your mind of “Oh gosh, someone better say something soon. Should I say something? Did we run out of things to talk about?”. It’s not a deafening silence, where all that you can hear is nothing, and the nothingness begins to drive you crazy. It’s a companionable silence, where a sense of peace wells up inside you and you realize that your friendship is growing stronger by purely existing with those other people.

This term ‘companionable silence’ has become one of my favorites. I was standing on a mountain with four of my college friends in North Carolina when I first realized it to be true. There we all were coming down the mountain, and the sun began to set. A couple people stopped just to look at something and then we all ended up stopping, and just standing in almost complete silence together. Nothing needed to be said. I was at peace.

I like to think that these companionable silences that bring this sense of peace don’t have to come solely from instances where you’re with other people. There are times when I’m outside by myself where I just take a deep breath and simply exist. I sit and observe the world continuing to happen around me, but I forget about responsibilities and stressors and just focus on existing in that moment. No music, or electronics, or other distractions. Just me.

Even in those times when I’m alone, I know that the sense of peace I feel comes from believing that I’m never truly alone. That ‘companionable’ aspect is still there because Jesus is right there existing with me. I’m safe. I’m alive. I am at peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says that in every season there is a “time to be silent and a time to speak”. So much can be said in just a moment of silence.

Until next time,
Sarah