I love my jewels of winter! Hmmm… How more brilliant are the gates, streets, and walls of Heaven? Will I care when I get there? Will His brilliance outshine them all? (Revelation 21)
How well do you sleep at night?
That question is a norm in my life these days with its unusual stresses attacking from every side like hungry parasites. Yet, I find myself not thinking so much about the stress but about how to respond to it.
Am I giving 100% of my best with the resources I have at hand? Am I doing what is right or what makes others and me comfortable?
If I can answer “yes” to these questions each night, then I can expect the quality of my sleep to be peaceful which will influence my response to the next day’s pressures. On the other hand, if my answer is anything but positive, will my forty winks be any less rejuvenating? Will the frenzied feeding on my psyche increase in irritation? Not necessarily, as the next day holds a new opportunity to fight more effectively than the day before. (Psalm 3, Philippians 4:13)
So, in the words of a former client, “May you sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. And, if they do, bite their heads off!”
It was a frigid December morning as she grabbed her keys with the intention of warming up her trusty silver chariot before work. As she opened the front door of her toasty abode, recollections of the previous night’s weather prediction sprang to mind causing her to question her attire; freshly shampooed hair wrapped in a towel, pajamas with button up fleece providing her body scarcely enough protection against the expected freezing rain and hard-soled slippers donning her feet. How surprised was she when the expected icy glaze was seemingly absent. With confidence, she strode across the covered porch reaching for the handrail but missing it by inches as her foot revealed a nasty deception, black ice-covered the porch steps and patio leading to the waiting vehicle. Without warning, her foot shot out causing her to violently wrack her elbow while skidding down the steps, across the patio to nearly beneath the car, legs in line with each other and extended in opposite directions; a gymnastics position this girl was never able to do her entire life.
I can chuckle about this experience now because it must have been a comical sight for any onlooker. However, humor is lost and an icy fear grips the senses when there is the expectation of ice on walking surfaces, an almost paralyzing dread born in deception. Yet, I am reminded by the events of Holy Week how wrong I am to allow fear to gain a strong hold because it was defeated at The Cross and put to death with Easter’s warming serenity at The Empty Tomb. (Proverbs 10:9, 2 Timothy 1:7, Luke 24, Romans 8:38-39)
A section of my daily work commute never ceases to amaze me with its beauty; ash, oak, and maple stand majestically with their arms arched over either side of this route. The last few days while dressed in winters finest, their limbs tirelessly stretch to reach as far across as possible creating a canopy for travelers that is just as visually pleasing to look at through the rearview mirror as it is through the windshield. The New Year and the Old Year are much like those hardwoods; persistently working so carefully to create a beautiful merging of the past and what will be. It is the shaping of who we are. We look back through the shade of the previous year to see triumph and failure, health and sickness, joy and tears, birth and death. Then as we peer into the uncertainty of the new, we hope for more of the good and less of the bad. However, it is not the circumstances that create the beautiful vista, but how we deal with them. (Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 16:9, Galatians 6:7-9)
My dear Child,
As you come to this season of change with situations swirling about you like autumn’s falling leaves, I want you to remember; with Me confusion does not exist. (1 Corinthians 14:33) Only I can give you the peaceful wisdom you look for. When you are serious about wanting it, My wisdom, call me and I will listen, for I know the desire of your heart and will give it to you, if you are sincere and unselfish in your delight in Me. (Psalm 37:4, James 1:5)
I only want the best for you, but you must stop trying to figure out what it is; you must stop trying to push your timing on Me. All of this is futile and will only cause you stress and confusion; for My reasons for and ways of doing things are far beyond your ability to comprehend. (Isaiah 55:9, Lamentations 3:25) Instead you must concentrate on trusting Me, on resting in Me, and doing what I ask of you. What follows, in My time, this act of faith and obedience will surprise and delight you! (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Chaotic times will never stop finding their way in your direction; they are just a part of life, which may hurt but are for your good in improving your character, integrity, and faith. Just remember, with Me you can weather any storm, for I AM with you always, forever and ever. Amen! (John 16:33, Matthew 28:20)
Your loving Father,
Did you know there is a lot more to the version of The Serenity Prayer adopted, modified, and made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous? Until recently, I did not know there is more beyond the first verse written by Reinhold Niebuhr.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Wow! This prayer becomes a lot more when taken into context with the second verse. It becomes more about Him and less about us. It is more than give me this so I can do that. It is about,
- The Source of peace, courage, wisdom, strength, true happiness, and the Light at the end of the tunnel (Psalm 143:10, Romans 8:28, Hebrews 4:6-10, James 1:2-5, 1 John 2:15-17,
- The Giver of a new day and all it holds (Psalm 118:24, Matthew 6:25-34)
- His unlimited power and infinite knowledge can be trusted (Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 14:24-27, Isaiah 55:9)
- The Naked Eye who sees us for who we are (1 Samuel 16:7)
- The King of Heaven (Matthew 6:9, John 3:13, Acts 1:10-11, Revelation 21)
And so much more!