Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Peace of God

I've been looking forward to blogging again, but many things in my life have taken priority that it has been a season for waiting and not writing. Nothing that was too hard for my God, though. And all things have been working out for good.

My son graduated Homeschool high school this year. We had a small celebration with friends at a nearby park. What a milestone this was! Being able to completely educate my sons at home has been an incredible journey and an indescribable blessing. I'm so glad that God made a way for us to do it and finish well. I'm so proud of the men my sons are shaping up to be. 

Our new house has been coming along nicely! We have all the new flooring installed and the new kitchen is finished. It's so wonderful. Next on the list will be bathroom renovations, baseboards and other trim here and there. We had to get rid of a LOT of stuff to fit into this house. It's about 1650 sq feet which is 500 sq ft smaller than the last home we were in. And even with the paring down, I still feel like there's more to pare! :) 

In sadder news, my mother passed away 2 weeks ago at the age of 75. She fell and hit her head in a place where an undetected aneurism was present. It was grievous news and I'm going to miss her so much. Our family traveled several hundred miles to attend her funeral. It was so odd to visit the city I grew up in. It's a very evil place that I thought I'd never have to visit again. The amazing thing is that God used her death to initiate a family reunion that only he could orchestrate. 

A little parents divorced 33 years ago and my mom always believed they would get back together — even after my dad remarried. Not a biblically correct standpoint for her to take. My dad's been remarried for the past 26 years now. The odd part of the story, is that he and my stepmom just happened to be in town (we all live in different states) at the time of my mom's death and subsequently attended her funeral. It was quite astounding. Things that make you go hmm. 

I wish my relationship with my mom had been closer, but it never was, despite my best efforts. The strain of her divorce and the turbulent waves it evoked during my final years at home eventually led to a sort of unspoken truce between us throughout my adulthood. Never wanting to venture into conflicted territory with her again, I settled for a peaceful, albeit emotionally reserved relationship with her. We enjoyed friendly visits and laughter while doing our best to sidestep controversy. She had a tendency to talk far more than listen and that was always a hurdle I could never surmount. She had a bruising way of condescension...I guess that pain was a subconscious impetus to progressively keep her at arms length. 

My other siblings seemed to have a similar relationship with her, all except for the youngest. I think the baby of the family tends to have a greater need for parental approval and favoritism than the others. And that was certainly the case in our family and continued until her death. 

My heart has grieved for my youngest sister over the years. It's been several years since I'd seen my family and she's the only one I didn't recognize at first glance. Out of all of us, she chose a wayward path time and time again. And now that is catching up with her. I'm praying for her soul. She has always disregarded my influencing her toward repentance. And while my mom was the closest to her, she never, to my knowledge, warned her to fear and obey God and come to him in repentance. 

The reason for this (I believe) is because, while my mom believed Jesus was the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again, she also ascribed to the false doctrine of Universalism which states that all will be saved eventually. This belief is, of course, contradicted in Scripture. Her doctrine prompted her to explain away the scriptures that warn of God's judgment and wrath on sinners who die in their sins. I think it's a comforting doctrine for ex-catholics to fall into. It's reminiscent of the purgatory nonsense that the catholic church teaches. My prayer for many years has been that this false doctrine would not be an impediment to my mom's salvation. 

Now my conviction is to step out and urge my sister to repent and receive God's salvation. Very difficult to do with someone who thinks they're already saved. :/ And since our relationship is already strained, I don't anticipate it will be received well. But that hindrance does not excuse the responsibility. 

Anyway, the miracle in all this has been that, throughout this season of family estrangement, God swooped in as the mother and father I needed. Scripture says he is a father to orphans and widows, and I have found this to be true. God is my awesome, ever present father. A help in time of trouble. A brother that sticks closer than a friend. He has taught me that he alone is my portion, provider, strong tower, deliverer and help.

The take away for anyone reading this, is that no matter what kind of loss you face in your life, God is more than enough for you. When you cast your cares upon the Lord, (for he cares for you!) he will absorb the hurt and bring comfort. He will dry the tears and bring healing. He's working things out for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Trust him. Abide in him. Lean on him. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he'll make your path straight. 

It's hard sometimes to discern which circumstances in life are brought by God and which ones are just messes we make and have to deal with the repercussions. But I think I've finally learned the way to tell the difference. When I'm walking in total obedience to the Lord (which he gives all believers the strength to do) the hand of God becomes very clear. If we're running around doing things in our own strength, in our own way and just occasionally consulting the Lord, we'll make a mess and can't hear his still small voice him above all the noise. We'll be oblivious to which doors he opens and which doors he shuts because we're breathlessly working out our own life in a frenzy. No peace. No guidance. Just chaos. 

BUT when I slowed down and waited on the Lord, acknowledged him in all my ways, submitted to my husband's leadership and prayed for God's direction, I was abiding in him. Suddenly I began to see clearly the path God laid out before me. Suddenly, I could hear God speaking to me. He gave me dreams and visions. He directed me to scriptures that jumped from the page and applied to my situation so pin pointedly, I would sit dumbfounded in total awe and wonder at the amazing God I serve. And that is how and why I believe I am exactly where God wants me to be. Abiding in him is awesome!

When we bought this house a few months ago, the Lord spoke to my heart that this would be the place where HE would instigate the reuniting of our extended family. He reminded me that HE was the one that brought about the separation in the first place. He had spoken Ecclesiastes 3:5b to my heart several years back when I could see his hand dividing us so deliberately. "...a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing". 

I did NOT understand what he was doing then. I still don't fully understand, but it's slowly becoming clearer. He works in mysterious ways and my job is not to worry when it doesn't make sense. My job is to trust implicitly and lean not on my own understanding. One thing I am beginning to see is the last few years apart from extended family has strengthened my faith in ways I never thought it would. I have learned how to truly abide in the Lord. Could that have been his purpose all along? I have no idea. But his plans are usually multi-faceted so I'm inclined to believe that he's accomplishing a lot more than I can see. Whatever the case, I feel peaceful and content to live each day abiding in him and following hard after him!

Spending the day with family members that I hadn't seen in over 9 years (and a cousin I hadn't seen in 30 years) was surreal. Watching the casket with my mother's body be lowered into the ground was emotional and difficult. 

There are many things I don't understand. But the blessing is that I don't have to understand everything. There are times when God gives understanding and times when things remain a mystery. And I'm okay with that. God can do whatever he wants to do.

But it's awesome when a humble prayer request of mine can move Almighty God to act on my behalf.

Mind bogglingly awesome.

I'm trusting God and praying for understanding and wisdom. And praying for the people that God has put into my life. As well as the ones he's removed and then put back again! Being a Christian is never boring - that is for sure! No matter what happens, we can and must rejoice in the Lord always.


What about you? Is there an area of your life where God is working mysteriously in ways that you don't understand? Has your trust in him given you the peace that passes understanding? 


DeNiece Barnes said...

My dear friend I truly have missed your posts of encourging words. My family and I am so sorry for the lost of your mother and we pray that God continues to heal your hurt and pain. I truly believe God is with us though everything we go though because his love is truly unconditional. He is our mother, father, doctor, friend, etc. just know that I will be praying that God's will be done in your life as well as the extended family.

Simply Keeping Home said...

Thanks so much DeNiece! Your words of kindness are a blessing to me!

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