My wife and I have been navigating some tough decisions in our lives, involving our kids and our family. If you have children, you know how challenging some choices can be. Often, there are no easy answers, and clarity is foggy at best. When I hit those moments, I often turn to my mom and dad for help. God has blessed me with parents who love Him and provide wisdom and insight where both are lacking. As I was talking to my dad, he characteristically said little, while asking many questions. Then, without answering any of my questions, he told me to look up Isaiah 26:3-4, a passage he had come across in his morning devotions. I did, and while I was thankful for the Scriptural insight, I was disappointed with his input -- I was looking for answers, not vague principles!
Two weeks later, I was wife-less at a conference for pastors (and spouses), still working over the same issues in my mind. I was a bit tormented in my spirit, still feeling no clarity on the parental/familial issues at hand. On the second morning of the retreat, I headed to the beach for my morning jog, and repeated what I had done the day before. I jogged 1.25 miles from my room to the third largest ocean rock in the world.
The sun had just come up, and while the morning air was showing the effects of fall, the weather was truly pristine. I sat in the shadow of Haystack rock as the sun hit the peak. Breathless from my run and listening to U2 sing, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” through my ear buds, I had an unexpected spiritual moment.
Here was this enormous rock before me, unmoved by the waters that raged all around it. Even at low-tide the waves pounded at the base of this massive boulder. But it was unmoved. The water’s relentless 24/7 attack on Haystack rock was futile. As I watched, I realized I wanted to be like Haystack in the midst of my own storm. As the waves of uncertainty pound away at me and my wife, I need God’s peace and presence for stability.
I didn’t find it while looking at the rock, but at least I knew what I was seeking: I wasn’t seeking answers to my questions, I was seeking God’s peace through the process. I walked back to my room listening to worship songs from Chris Tomlin, Laura Story and Paul Baloche, while the ocean crashed on the shore to my left. It was one of the better walks I’ve ever had.
After a shower and quick bite at breakfast, I headed to a morning session with speaker, Dr. R. Kent Hughes. In my front row seat, I opened my Bible and turned in my journal to take notes. The spiritual moment that started that morning in the shadow of Haystack rock suddenly found completion. On each page of my journal is a seemingly random Scripture verse. What verse was on my page this morning? The same one my father gave me two weeks ago, Isaiah 26:3-4:
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” I’m a slow learner.
My dad was giving me God’s message two weeks before, I just wasn’t listening.
God’s peace is my choice. God isn’t withholding His peace from me, He has put it on the table in front of me, He’s just waiting to see if I’ll take Him up on His offer. When I turn my trust to Him, God promises to provide peace. Reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 4 where he tells us that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds -- when we choose to give our burdens to God, and carefully choose our daily thoughts. My friend Steve Etner has written an awesome book on this topic, one that is well-worth reading!
So today, I still don’t have answers (although I think we’re becoming much better parents and spouses through this process!). But I’m finding comfort more often in God’s peace. I’m finding myself rooted more and more in Him and His promises, even when the storm rages fiercest in my mind and heart.
What about you? Are you living with the peace that God is offering you? Is your mind steadfastly rooted in your faith in God and His character? God doesn’t promise calm waters, but He does promise peace in the storm. Will you discover His peace today?
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is better on the water!