I have had a few amazing days of peace, rest, and stillness. Then, the words of those closest to me...the demands of the people around me...the needs I feel I must meet on a daily basis...all of those combine to recreate expectations and ultimately bind me back up in the shackles from which I thought I was free. Fortunately, as He always does, God provided a respite in the midst of the attacks. He has given me an oasis in the desert. He has given me a promise....a promise of peace fulfilled.
I just returned from an amazing Bible study...one of the few places that I deem a "safe place." I am free from judgement, expectation, and demands. I cannot let those women down. I cannot disappoint them. I am even now starting to believe that I cannot shock them. We have only met a couple of times, and yet I am amazed by the powerful bonds God has created through these incredible people. The women that make up this study are raw, vulnerable, honest, wise, forthright, unpretentious, and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Many open up about their own personal spiritual struggles. Some share the deepest parts of their heart, their innermost fears, and their surprises of joy. I have known a few of these women for a very long time, and I consider their friendship one of God's great treasures. He truly has surrounded me with an amazing group of believers, and they have walked beside me through some very dark times.
In our study tonight, we discussed a verse in Haggai that had profound meaning for me this week. " 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty." Haggai 2:8
The Lord reminded His people that every earthly possession was ultimately for His use...His glory...His purpose. God will shake the nations, level mountains, and raise valleys all for the purpose of expanding His Kingdom. What is even more amazing, to me at least, than God leveling actual mountains to proclaim His word is that He would use me...a small-town girl without much sense of purpose or direction...to ultimately fulfill His purpose. He has adopted ME into His family. As it says at the end of Haggai, He has placed a signet ring on my hand, His seal, to mark the rest of the world for His sake. The idea that God would use you and me to proclaim His gospel to the ends of the earth...well, there just aren't words to articulate the power of that thought and the COURAGE we can take in knowing that He is faithful to accomplish His Word. By far, my favorite part of that scripture, "And in this place I will grant peace." He doesn't just say it, as He does the preceding verses. He declares it. God will grant peace.
There are many places in my life where I do not feel known or loved unconditionally. I did not understand complete unconditional love, and as a result, my view of God was distorted for a large part of my life. I believed He desired something from me. I believed I had to work for His blessing and work towards His grace. I believed I needed to work for forgiveness, instead simply asking for His mercy. I believed I had something to prove before I could receive something I earned. My faith walk was a performance walk...and I stumbled all the way to exhaustion. Thankfully, God has begun to tear apart the lie I have lived for so long, and while there will be difficult challenges and "casualties," as my mentor says, along the way, ultimately, He will rebuild those broken places in my heart and establish an unshakable peace in my life. As He promises in Isaiah 61:4, He will rebuild His temple, and He will rid life of peace attacks.
When you are certain that a decision is God's very best...when scripture has confirmed it, and circumstances illuminate, hold tight to that certainty and rest in God's sovereignty. It only takes a small seed of doubt before my entire heart bursts forth weeds of worry. Doubt and fear are like the kudzu of my life....just swallowing up any hope of fruitfulness. Let God take the pruning shears to those vines. He wants to rebuild His temple, and He wants His people to hear His word. Take a Biblical Xanex...search the scriptures, and see what He's done before. He will do it again.