when peace rules

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

I apologize for taking such a long break from my blog. I like to post a few times a week. But my life has necessitated a break in order for me to process the past couple of weeks. I have been able to gain some perspective about what God has been doing in me.

I have found myself being tossed around by circumstances, which has led to a desperate yearning for a peace much deeper than what I’ve ever possessed.

The fact that I can be surrounded by the furies of life and still have a deep internal peace is changing my relationship with Jesus. I’m growing addicted to the peace that doesn’t come from the world, but exists simply because I know the Prince of Peace Himself.

For most of my life, I have known the peace that comes through having a comfortable life; and though I have gone through my fair share of trials, through which I have been forced to seek a deeper peace, I do not know that I have ever experienced peace in such a tangible way as I have these past few weeks.

I used to view peace as something that I must strive to attain. But it appears that true peace is less about striving after and more about shifting our focus and surrendering to the only One who can offer us refuge from the worries of this life. I’ve obtained this opinion after looking at a few precious verses in Colossians 3:12-17. In the verses that proceed verse 15, we are instructed to “put on” a heart of compassion, humility, kindness, love, etc… “Put on” is an active verb. It mandates that we do something. Our clothes don’t just climb upon on our bodies in the morning – we must put them on. Likewise, many Christ-like attributes require us to actively live out the faith. But Paul instructs us to possess peace through a different mode – he doesn’t call us to actively clothe ourselves in it; rather, he tells us to “decide” to let what we already possess in Christ to take ownership in our lives, or to rule our hearts. That word rule means to determine, direct, or control. This is not a peace that comes and goes, but rather, something dictates the core of who we are.

Peace comes when we fix our eyes on (Who) instead of (what). Allowing peace to rule our lives, means that we completely alter our focus away from (what) we see and look upon (Whom) we know.

If we know that God is good… then why do we worry about where our                                 food will come from?

If we know that God is love… then why do we worry about being alone?

If we know that God is faithful… why do we concern ourselves with                                       money, jobs, health, etc…?

I think it’s because we simply don’t know God well enough. We don’t really believe that He will feed us. We don’t really believe that He will take care of us. We don’t know Him well enough to trust that His hand is always there to guide us and provide for us. We don’t know the richness of His love and the depths of His friendship well enough to be led by them; so instead, we turn to what we do know – the tangible elements of this world. And when our job fails, so does our peace. When our health wanes, our peace falters.

We are too much like the Israelites.

As they were being led away from slavery and into the promised land, they yearned for one thing – slavery. They knew the life of slavery, they didn’t know the life dependent on God. They trusted what they knew in a tangible way; and even though God had such better plans for them then captivity, they still desired to go back. Because they couldn’t see the promised land, immediately they groaned for what they knew.

How deeply I can relate.

One of the beautiful things about God is His incredible patience towards us. The more we find ourselves in circumstances that seem too big for us to handle, the more we are able to see our Rescuer for Who He really is. Our faith gets stretched and we get rescued – ahhhh, yes, God is a rescuer. Now I’ve experienced Him as such and I have peace next time I’m up against the wilderness… the promised land awaits me.

Knowing God doesn’t happen over night; it happens over a lifetime of studying His character and knowing Him in our own lives. I’ve become convinced that the more I know God, the easier it is to trust Him, thus possessing that deep tranquility of the soul.

Do I worry? Yes. But when I stop looking at my circumstances and begin to gaze upon my God, the worries subside. Allowing peace to RULE my heart simply requires me to have a steadfast gaze upon (Who) rather than (what).

four months

October is here.  The leaves are falling off the trees, leaving their yellow trace all over my front yard.  I love this season.  Life gets one last breath before winter takes it by force and in finality.  I’m so glad that death happens slowly and not with one good storm.  We get to watch the process unfold before our eyes – both in nature and in our existence.

Boulder has been our home for four months now and as I look back, I am in awe of what has transpired in my own heart.  So many things in my soul have been killed.  At the time, I desperately wished that God would just take those things quickly and leave me as (un)maimed as possible.  But like the seasons – and like life – our Spiritual being is formed with time.  We are slowly brought to death, only to be brought back to life.  Though it went unappreciated at the time, I am now so thankful that, like the seasons, death does not come in a fierce blow, but through several storms.

Each storm has called to question my service to God.  And as so much has died within me, so much has been brought to life as well.

Four months and…

  • I no longer stress about paying our rent – I know God will provide
  • I walked away from a potential full-time job – Raising my girls means more than a paycheck
  • I have stopped questioning if we are called here – We are here, therefore we are called
  • I have allowed myself to dream about the Church – I am burdened for this city
  • Discomfort pays frequent visit to followers of Christ – We are not called to comfort
  • Discipleship is costly – He is worth the cost
  • I have abandoned many worldly things – I can now embrace more fully Eternal things

For those of you who have been reading my blog… thank you for allowing myself to process this journey.  I am sure I will have more posts where I wrestle with doubt, insecurity, pain, and heartache.  But I want to make sure that in the midst of giving you an authentic portrayal of my life, I don’t neglect to share with you how good God has been in the midst of this journey!

It may have taken me 4 months too long to realize it, but I am being carried through this life by an amazing Father and an incredibly resilient Friend – the Hope I have is the Hope that brought me to this city in the first place – may God help me live that out daily.

not a hard Master

“How very kind of the Lord, not merely to send us the necessities of life, but even such things as, on account of the weakness of our bodies, or the want of appetite, we might have desired!… We have indeed not served a hard Master.”

George Muller penned that statement after he witnessed God’s amazing provisions in his life.

I have come to a very still place in my soul; I neither awake with extreme excitement nor do I wrestle with discouragement.  I am content.  Perfectly content in the season of life I am in.  Each day brings new joy to me – as a mother, wife, church planter, and child of God.

There are days when I question God’s involvement in my life, but those days have become more frequently submitted to the days when I anticipate God’s involvement in my life.  This has been the result of being brought to the revelation that we do not serve a hard Master.  It is not a sacrifice to serve a God of such insurmountable love and grace.  When He took on my sin at the cross, He did so to gain the Father’s reward.  He saw me as a Reward – something worth giving His life for.  And yet, all too often I do not see my own cross in the same way.  I do not count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds.  Maybe it’s because I esteem my comfort above my God.  But serving God is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice; this doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy, nor that it should be.  However, the way in which we carry our cross determines how we see God.  God is not a hard Master, and whatever I go through for the sake of Christ is not a sacrifice, but pure joy – Joy because of Whom I am living for!

Worth It

Last night I went to bed with my tear-stained cheeks and the thought in my head… just go to sleep – His mercies are new every morning… tomorrow the sun will rise.

This morning I dropped Ben off at work, followed by Belle, and I breathed in God’s new mercies… I AM going to have a good day today!  I commanded myself.  About this time I glanced at my mirror only to see the reflection of the dreaded authoritative flashing lights behind me.  I looked down at my speedometer and noticed that I was driving under the speed limit – maybe he’s pulling me over for driving too slow?

NOPE!

I failed to notice that I was in a school zone.  I needed God’s mercy in the biggest way, but instead I received a 4-point ticket with a double fine totaling $300.00.  It was the first time in my life that I cried in front of an officer.  I tried to mask it and took in deep breaths, but the sobs kept getting louder.

It’s not his job to ask my current financial situation; nor is it his job to know my Spiritual state and the fact that I’ve been through five months of brokenness, so I guess I didn’t feel the need to say anything to him.  Instead I just thanked him as politely as I could.

The tears accompanied me the whole way home as my thoughts quickly snowballed from one question to the next – I can’t afford groceries, how can I afford this ticket?  I never speed, how come the one time I accidentally speed I get stuck with a ticket?  God… where is YOUR mercy?

Genesis 15 marks the beginnings of Abram’s journey of faith.  God approaches him and says fear not Abram.  I am your shield and your very great reward.  Sometimes I think that we look for God to show us mercy through the world.  I wonder if I want my shield and reward to come through financial peace and a steady job.  Yet as God begins to take this man and refine his faith, He first lets him know who He is in His life.

And so it is true with me ­– God’s mercies are new every morning.  But that doesn’t mean that the morning holds no pain.  Sometimes the mercy of God strips us of ourselves so that we run behind His shield.  Sometimes the mercy of God rids us of worldly things so that we cling to the One True Reward – Jesus Christ.

By the end of today I felt completely drained… emptied… vacant of any “Camryn.”  And though I don’t see a way out right now, I know that I am hiding deep behind God.  I have wrapped myself in His hem and I am crying on His garment – LORD, please shield me!  I have nothing left and so I am learning to allow Him to be my exceedingly great Reward.  Days like these force me to echo the words of one of my favorite artists, Rita Springer… It’s gonna be worth it – He’s already worth it!

still not content

I sit here and write this as I watch my two daughters spin around their room in their play dresses.  I am constantly amazed by their naivety – especially during this most recent season, when the weight of the world has weighed heavier on me than it ever has before.  They have a room full of toys and we have never gone without a meal, so I guess now is a good time for me to repent for feeling sorry for myself.

Yesterday I walked through a store and saw at least fifteen outfits that I wish I could afford; to be honest, I just wished I could afford even one of them.  In these moments, I go back to when life was comfortable.  Ben and I have never had a lot of money.  We have never been able to just spend our paychecks on whatever we wanted in that moment – but we have always been able to buy those random desires… a shirt every once in a while or a cheap pair of jeans.  We don’t get to do that these days.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I spent money on a cute shirt, just because I wanted it.

But as I watch my girls enjoy life, I am reminded that I really have everything I need, and so much more!  My children are full of joy and get to be kids.  They aren’t worried about what they are going to eat because God has always placed food in front of them – in front of us.  Sometimes I worry about how we are going to pay our bills, but we have always been able to pay them (even if it is only “barely”).

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has provided and I know that all those things that I covet in the store are just stumbling blocks.  The enemy puts them in front of me to accuse God of not being a good and faithful God – I am sorry for believing that for even a second; because when I watch my girls play with carefree abandon, I know that God is a good God.  It may be years before I am able to afford to buy a new shirt just for the fun of it, but I will always be able to feed my family.

If only we lived our lives dwelling on the true treasures in life our lives would be so much richer.  When I cast my careless worries at the foot of the cross I get to live for the richer things in life – faith, family, and an eternal relationship with an amazing God!!!!

Breathe Him in… He is life… and He is good!

the goodness of God

If we believe that God is good, than everything He does and gives must reflect that goodness.  Sometimes, we look at what we have or don’t have and we think that our circumstances reflect God’s character.  There is great danger in doing this, because we begin to see God through a lens based on the material, rather than seeing our circumstances through a lens based on God’s character.

We often fail to see things through a Spiritual perspective, and therefore when we lose our job or say good-bye to a loved one, we immediately begin to judge God’s character from that.  How could You God?  Why would You God?  Questions like this are not bad, but they are revealing.  They show that we are seeing God through our circumstances rather than seeing our circumstances through God’s character.  If we are confident in God’s goodness, and that is our premise for understanding all of life, then when a tragedy strikes us, rather than allowing it to shape our opinion of Who God is, we would allow what we know about God to shape our opinion of what has taken place.

Can death really be an act of a good God?  The Bible says that God works all things together for good according to His purpose.  In this life I may never understand why God allows death to fall upon a child, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, that God is first and foremost – always a good God.  Because that is my foundation, I can see all death, even that of a child, through the understanding that whatever God gives me is good and will be used for good.