“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
The other day, I was working in the kitchen as my thoughts raced about a new season our family is soon to be entering into. With our daughter now three and a half years old and our son two years old in a matter of days, God had laid upon my heart that “it is time” for me to return to the work world for this year. I have been a stay at home mom for three and a half years. It has been such a blessing and sincere joy to be able to share each day with our little ones.
We currently live in the Middle East and the Lord has put very specific things upon our hearts during our time here. Among them, God has burdened my heart to reach out to the community that we are affiliated with. So, after having a background check done and multiple people from various periods of my history now interviewed, I was asked to start within the position as the part-time this August.
My husband and I prayed about it and really felt the Lord clearly bless the decision to walk in the Lord’s leading. Thus, I gladly accepted. A few years back, we had lived in Rabat, Morocco–where my husband had been working. I had desired to hold the very same position (as the one I have now accepted here in the Middle East), but it never panned out. I did not understand at the time. But, I worked on another book during that time instead. I thoroughly enjoyed the research and time that was poured into the subject. We will see if that story may be completed within the next few years, if the Lord wills!
Yet, now back to the present, here we are in the Middle East—with no family around, the simplicity of “returning to work” is not as simple as a small town girl like myself would like to believe. There are many steps to ensuring the success of such a dramatic transition–both on a personal, as well as familial level. All will be effected by this decision. In such a time, where does one turn, while family and closest friends remain across vast oceans and various time zones? Simply put, to the promises of God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)
God has been teaching me what it means to “cease striving” in recent years. Another common word for this is “rest”. I have always been confused as to what God means by “rest”. I am a person that LOVES to be busy for the Lord. I do not like to wait around – or even pause—let alone rest! Yet, while on our family vacation to California just a few weeks back now, I asked God HOW I can rest in the way that He desires of me. And His response was immediate and cut to the core of my being. The Lord said, “Trust others”.
By allowing others to play a role in the store of my children’s upbringing (and my life in general), it is not a sign of failure or weakness. I had come to believe, wholeheartedly in fact, that by allowing others into my story “to help”, that I was somehow lessening the fact that God is supreme. This could not be further from the truth!
“I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:2 (NASB)
I have always had a hard time accepting help from others. I will drive multiple hours in an instant to be at the aid of a loved one, no questions asked! I wanted to be used by the Lord to be a blessing to others. Yet, I would nearly have to be on my deathbed before I would be willing to pick up the phone to ask for help. And oddly enough, that is what I indeed had to do a few months back.
As I had mentioned, we do not live by family. Our closest friends here have only known us for a matter of months. Yet, as a medical oddity began to happen to me while driving to a play date in February, it wasn’t family I had to rely upon, but my newly made friends.
As my eyes were unable to open, the ability to speak left me completely, and the ability to even move my hand or call out for help was momentarily suspended, I had to recall the fact that God had placed people within my life to lean on. God had given me people here in the Middle East, with whom to share life with and rely upon. This was terribly uncomfortable for me—being the recipient of such kindness and genuine compassion. I was not used to being on the “receiving end”! I had never wanted to feel “indebted” to anyone for anything. Yet, the kindness that these ladies showed me, as my husband raced home from work, was sincerely a God send.
“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27 (NASB)
Friends took care of our children downstairs and fed them lunch as I was paralyzed momentarily within my own body upstairs—unable to even call out for help. It was such a surreal situation–and such a powerful realization. I could hear them downstairs attending to my children, but I could do nothing to join them. For those moments in time, I was literally trapped within my own body without any way of communicating or even picking up a phone!
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
God really used that as an object lesson for the rest of the fears in life. I had not been willing to allow many to watch our children due to fear of what could happen to them in our absence. Yet, as I listened to our friends downstairs with our children, it was as though I was being held in place to LISTEN or REST and watch how God handles things – even in my absence.
As I recalled that terrifying time from a few months back as I worked in the kitchen one hot afternoon, a beautiful sight caught my eye at the window. Between the pineapple plant and growing herbs, a large dove had come crashing onto the window’s ledge and began vigorously pecking at the reflective glass. The more the large dove continued to forcefully tap, the Lord began speaking to my heart.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
Often times we do not experience the “peace of God” due to the reality that we do not open the window of our heart to it. Just has that dove was unable to enter our kitchen, no matter how persistent it was—the same is true of God’s peace. If we are unwilling to put our fears aside and walk in faith to the place God has called us to, we will not experience the fullness of God’s peace within our lives. Why? Because God is calling us each to put our fears into His hands and depend on His leading—not the “what if” scenarios that may be playing out in our heads.
“LORD, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.” Isaiah 26:12 (NLT)
Now, as Christians, we are called to give our anxieties to the Lord. We do this by bring all of our worries to Him in prayer. If we are willing to claim the truth of Isaiah 26:12, that God will grant us peace and that He is the rightful One to receive praise for the outcome–there really is need to pause and reflect.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
The God of the universe and all creation is calling each one to give each burden, heart ache and weighty decision to Him. No matter what challenge or hardship you may be enduring, take it to God.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26 (NASB)
As I now prepare to return to work, I have been encouraged by God Himself to put my fears aside and walk in the place He has granted me favor. The same is true within each of your lives! Ask the Lord what He may be calling you to do. Is there something that scares you that perhaps God would like to address? Is there an unresolved matter that simply needs reconciliation? Are you concerned about your marriage or your children? Take it to the Lord. He will direct you by His written Word, the Holy Bible and by speaking directly to your heart. You are precious and the situations that you are facing within your life are neither “too little” nor “too big” for God’s mighty care. Take them to Him today and allow His peace, that which surpasses the logic and understanding of this world, to penetrate and overtake the fears within your heart. Why? Because He alone is God and you are precious to Him.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)
Open the window of your heart to the peace of God; He is faithful to walk you through each trial and season of life because He cares for you.