Faith, life, Spiritual Encouragement
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How to Have Peace, Today

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today

Spring is fickle. At least in the Northwest.

Perhaps April comes on warm trade winds in Florida, but those winds can stir up trouble, winding themselves into storms that flatten houses and take children and change lives forever.

Summer warm days can quickly be overcome by a northern cold front, and snow covers new grass and caps tulips whose petals huddle tight to keep out the chill.

Spring weather reminds me that there is little use in predicting the future. We can’t calculate the events of today or next week, but we can reflect the goodness of God in all things.

When difficult seasons, pain-filled and pulsing, stretch faith into a thin, gauzy line that barely connects us to the goodness of God we might, like the tulip, close up and resist. We may fall under the weight of the pressure of the decisions we have to make, the demands of the day that lay ahead of us. We want to go back to bed, sleep it off until the sun shines slant through the window again.

But we who claim Christ can hold fast to promises that remind us that even in the most devastating of circumstances, our God’s love and power and purpose and redemption remain unchanged, solid, even in the midst of every storm.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. {Jeremiah 29:11-13}

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. {Isaiah 26:3}

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. {Romans 6:4}

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. {1 John 4:16}

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. {John 14:27}

Last weekend, we spent the first night of the year at the cottage at the lake, the little fixer-upper we call Grace Cottage because it came to us through the accident that changed our lives.

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today

Every time we see the old-style streetlamp glowing near the driveway, like the lamp in Narnia, we are reminded that winter can’t last forever: Aslan lives and will take back what belongs to him.

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today

Every sunset on the lake reminds me of the sunset we watched–a technicolor show of magenta, salmon pink, and orange flames that finally succumbed to the purpled indigo of night and a full, plump moon–before we took the drive home on August 14, 2011. We can’t help remembering the grace that was both buoy and lighthouse in our storm. The thread of God’s goodness drew us back to the lake, a full-circle of promises and possibilities, and our little cabin is an altar of gratitude.

So we packed up food and hoped the weatherman was wrong and optimistically built a fire in the wood stove and snuggled in for the night.

We awoke to gently falling snow and a misty-robed lake, steely gray and dark. No blue skies and blue water promises of the coming summer, just gray, wet, colorless cold. See, the water can only reflect the sky above, it cannot manufacture it’s own color. The lake mirrors the dome that covers it: sunrise and sunset, blues and pinks and yellow sun, green trees and floating fishing boats. The water reflects the picture displayed against it’s surface.

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today

Just days later, I packed my garden gloves and paintbrushes, a little lunch and coffee and drove the familiar road northward to the lake. I passed the intersection of Crawford and Highway 395, a holy place, a tiny spot forever set apart in my mind where God’s goodness intersected with the real need of our lives. A speck on the map where all that is ugly and terrible and fragile in this world collided with all that is sovereign and powerful and merciful in my God. A place where lives converged and badness and goodness and faith and life and death rested in a miraculous balance, like an insect floating on the tensile surface of the water, and held it’s breath in hope.

I sped by and breathed a Thank-You prayer and kept going, toward my destination.

As I turned onto the beach road, I followed our new tradition of rolling down the windows, giving the sweet, lake air full access to my lungs. I kept going, toward my destination, toward the symbol of grace.

And all the day, I painted and scrubbed and raked and worked; I watched birds of prey and swallows and the new-green leaves glisten under the shade of the evergreen pines. I watched the bluest sky reflected in the never-still surface of the water. Always moving, even when it appeared glass-smooth in the late afternoon, the water reflected the azure sky, the green trees, the gliding white belly of a gull.

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today

I like to think my spirit is the lake and my countenance a mirror of the goodness of God in my life.

I am a daughter of the Earth: fickle and moody, happy and sad, good and evil, dangerous and exciting, but my God, he is perfect. He Is. His immutable character, flawless as the clear, cloudless, infinite blue of the sky remains and is and forever will be. I don’t understand it, fully, I have to admit. It isn’t just comfort or a crutch, it isn’t the purpose or the community or even the forgiveness and the future in eternity that draws me to God’s infinite self–I think it is the peace.

The peace that guards my heart and mind.

The peace that passes all understanding.

The peace that covers me and provides shelter.

The peace that exists unchanging beyond the storms surrounding me and within me, draws me to flatten and open wide my soul, like water in the bowl of the valley and reflect him.

I met an old man who has lived a  long-time and year-round in our lake community. We got to chatting and found we were both children of God, Christians, and realized we could swap grace-stories clear into fall. I’ll write more about him another day. In our conversation, he told me that there’s an underground river that runs beneath Deer Lake and Loon Lake. For many years, he tapped into the springs that bubbled up through the lake and piped fresh spring-water to his cabin. He told me the only time one can locate the springs is when the surface of the lake is freezing over. The fresh, warmer spring water, insulated within the crust of the earth, rises and circles of dark gray on the whitening ice reveal their location.

I’m not sure how that works, how one taps into a lake spring, I’m more of a turn-on-the-faucet kind of gal, but I know I have a river, a life-giving, fresh Living Water source, too. It runs deep and it’s best realized when my life isn’t blue skies and sunshine, but steely gray and stormy and iced-over. It’s at those times that I can locate the source of peace and tap into it’s goodness, finding life and refreshment and hope, even in the midst of winter.

www.alyssasantos.com How to Have Peace, Today linked up with Jennifer and Lyli and Emily

 

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