Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where Are Your Eyes?

Last week our nation was glued to the television as Hurricane Irene approached US soil. Where would it hit? At what speed? What could be done to prepare? Did everyone have enough batteries and water?

Now we watch airlifts take food to cut off towns and hear people struggle with insurance reimbursements in the aftermath of her trail. News footage was and is of people scurrying around frantic and overwhelmed by this life situation.

I’ve never endured a hurricane. As a Midwesterner, the very thought of one freaks me out. But, I have lived situations outside of my control that have raised my blood pressure and induced panic.

Haven’t we all?

While watching footage, I looked up the meaning of the name Irene. Years ago I was in charge of games at a baby shower. Since I’m not into tasting baby food or putting funny stuff into diapers, I decided to make my own game. After looking up the meaning of everyone’s name that would be attending the shower, I created a mix and match of people’s names and their meanings. Obviously, the person with the most correct matches won.

The game was a hit. Most people didn’t know the meaning of their own name so it created a fun conversation piece.

Needless to say, I was surprised when I discovered Irene to mean “peace.” Clearly naming storms is solely about a name that correctly fits the letter and nothing beyond that because natural disasters never bring peace to those living them.

But there is another One whose name translates to peace – Jehovah Shalom. First named in Judges, Gideon is threshing wheat in private to hide from the invaders. And he is clearly scared and frustrated by all happening around him. Like you have probably uttered a time or two yourself (or at very minimum heard from a friend), he says, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13).

For anyone unfamiliar with the rest of the story, Gideon asked for a sign that God was talking to him and went to prepare an offering for his guest. When he returned, the angel had him place the food offering on the rock, touched the end of his staff to it, and the food engulfed in flames – a miracle indicating God’s presence (Judges 6:17-20).

And this raises our question. Which has your primary focus? Irene or Christ? The hurricane in your own life (whether it be health uncertainty, financial struggles, work stress, broken relationships, natural disasters, etc) or your Jehovah Shalom?

In any area of distress we should do what we can to prepare, but where we then place our eyes will determine the peace we experience.

If our focus is solely on our situation - our storm - we cannot experience peace. We will run in circles trying to control what we cannot and expend all of our emotional energy fearing an outcome we do not yet know. But, if our eyes are on Him, we can slow down and do what we need to do when He calls us to do it. We can stop a spinning mind fast in its tracks and successfully take every thought captive. Even in the storm we can relax.

This is so beautifully illustrated in a version of the 23rd Psalm from Japan that Joanna Weaver shares in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

The Lord is my Pace Setter
The Lord is my pace setter…I
shall not rush
He makes me stop for quiet intervals
He provides me with
images of stillness which restore my serenity
He leads me in a way of
efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace
Even though I
have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his
presence is here
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by
anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility
My cup of joyous energy
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours
for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.

Certainly storms will crash our lives but we choose if our emotions follow an earthly situation or the Word of a divine God. He promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Peace in the storm. I love that.

In Him there is confidence in every step, a purpose in every action, and a unique calm every second of the day because we are operating in His strength rather than our own and, as a result, we walk victoriously.

We can only look one place at a time, however. I pray my gaze is steadfast on Jehovah Shalom. You?

1 comment:

  1. Melissa,
    Beautiful post and great reminder! Thanks for sharing!


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