“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
Sometimes I write things that surely are not of my own doing. I reread this recently, and it laid over me like Ezekiel’s rain blessing.
“Perfect Peace. The only peace that keeps us sane in the midst of the chaos. How do we obtain this Perfect Peace? By keeping our minds steadfast, focused on God, on His Word. By trusting in our Father, His Plans and His Purposes.”
Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton writing for Today’s Christian Woman, In an article titled, “Why Does God Leave His People in Pain?”, describes pain in this way:
“Suffering Christian, you are alive today because God has a purpose for your pain that is for the good of others and the Glory of Christ. Death-to-self may be at work in your suffering, but life-in-Christ is at work in the church.”
I have made peace with my uneasiness; I have made peace with my fears. I used to struggle with the call to social justice AS spiritual warfare—it’s not particularly appealing and rarely is it much fun. However, it is that to which God calls me, urging me out far beyond my comfort zone into the desert, as it were, to be away from the world and closer to Him. (It’s not all that lonely, for you see, we who hear the call are legion.)
Formerly, I would silence the whispers and tell simple, pretty stories of Grace and His Goodness. I still write those stories. Braver now, as I thank and praise God daily. I am grateful for the prayers of my friends and fellow laborers in the vineyard for holy boldness and for their encouragement of my voice even as my fingers tremble at the keyboard. I don’t always desire to write and say what I do, but I must. My people are God’s Hands, His Whispers, His Urgings, and His Grace and Peace over me, especially when I am weary, worn, and sad.
When the world disappoints me, as it so often does, (Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Charlottesville, VA, Pittsburgh, Parkland, FL, El Paso, TX, Dayton, OH) I seek God and sit quietly with doubt, with my discontentment, even with my fear, letting God and those feelings have their way. And then, seeking The One, I listen for my lessons.
These words, written more than two years ago by friend and author Colleen Mitchell remind me that I am not alone, that which breaks my heart also pierces the heart of those who love the Lord and are called according to His Purpose,
“I wonder what my newsfeed would look like this morning if a bunch of people of color with Black Panther symbols would have charged into an anti-abortion protest and killed 3 people. I wonder what the word on our pulpits would be. I wonder how loud the clamor would get. Because we think saying we are praying without proclaiming openly the inherent sin of racism is action, we are quiet today. I can’t be quiet. I will denounce and denounce and denounce again racism in its forms as evil, and I will ask you where you are if you are part of my church culture and you are silent. Because it is unacceptable.”
We sin. We sin because we have accepted alignment with conservative politics as Christianity, and we silently consent to any perverse forms that credo takes in our current climate, and we remain awkwardly silent.
My official position is that I am over the whole “Christian” moniker right now as it sticks in my throat. While we who follow Christ remember that we are perfectly made in the image of God, we neglect to include those whom we cannot stand and those with whom we passionately disagree. However, mature followers of Christ, those who remain beyond the point of convenience, risk hurt, but never fail to talk to and pray for one another. I’ve had hard conversations with sisters and friends in Christ and often agreed to disagree. I’ve also been challenged in love and respect, to tone down my rhetoric when it does not honor the God I claim to serve. I am frail, flawed, and beautifully human. I make every effort to humble myself, to take myself none too seriously, and to seek Him in every moment. When people whose hearts I know call me out in love, I am blessed. I am at peace.
And what is chaos? We are taught in Genesis that “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:-2, ESV). In the beginning God brought order, but before order, there was chaos. There is a Divine Purpose for chaos. We cannot do anything about chaos, but we serve The One Who Can.
And that is often when He feels most near. When chaos swirls, either in my heart or in the world, I am reminded that we have a holy obligation to yield; to seek Him, mindful that we drag ourselves through chaos each time we forget the Maker of our Peace. That Perfect Peace, the one surpassing all good sense, reason, or human understanding. That achieved only by remaining steadfastly in Him. Trusting His Purposes and His Plan, and acknowledging that even chaos serves Divine Purpose. That we yield. That we surrender. That we mindfully, gratefully, obediently submit. To worship. To quiet, and then to Action. So that, even in times of great chaos, we may be brought into order, by Him Who Created chaos, Who Created us.
Until we are willing to comfortably reveal our scars, we lack credibility to promise healing to those in pain. Until the Body of Believers consistently aims to actively practice compassion, the lack of compassion and humility I have personally experienced is woefully disappointing, hurtful, and worst of all, counterintuitive to any Christian teaching I know.
When the world disappoints us, we must be mindful, in the face of eroded social norms, discrimination, government policies that actively contradict the gospel, to seek peace. I forgot about rest. To enter into the spiritual warfare that is social justice, that noble calling of Jesus upon this earth, we neglect our obligation to our temple, to rest, to fellowship, to restore, and in this, in our hubris, we suffered greatly.
I say to you as I say so often to myself, we’ve got to do better. We have a holy obligation to yield. To seek God and Grace, mindful that we drag ourselves through chaos when we forget the Maker of our Peace.
That surpasses all understanding. That achieved only by remaining steadfastly in Him. Trusting His Purposes and His Plan, and acknowledging that even chaos serves Divine Purpose. That we yield. That we surrender. That we mindfully, gratefully, obediently submit to rest. To worship. To quiet. So that, even in times of great chaos, we may be brought into order, by Him Who Created chaos, Who Created us.
So until the Body is ready, I will continue to write, and speak, and act according to that which God calls me. I will continue to do as I do daily; make peace with my unease. And finally, when the world disappoints me, as it often does, I will continue seeking Shalom as I sit in quiet, discontented doubt or fear, letting God the Healer and my continual learnings have their way.