A Time for Peace

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Sunset in Vermont

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


At one time or another we have all surrendered our “right” or our position or our opinion in order to keep the peace.

Of course, there are some who are more than willing (maybe too willing) to give in. And on the other end of the spectrum there are others who act like every discussion is a hill they are willing to die on.

Ever notice that some people stoke the smallest disagreement so it develops into a huge battle? These situations may be based on a small misunderstanding but one party cannot back down or have a reasonable discussion. Sometimes this happens with friends but it is particularly devastating when it happens within families. The rift in the relationship grows so large and involves so many people that it impacts generations of relationships. Some of these issues last decades and lifetimes.

And then hardship strikes.

Often death, diagnosis, or disability comes along to remind us all how fragile and precious life really is. Life is short. Life can be really hard. Ideas and principles are important but people and relationships are even more important.

There are times a tragedy can be a catalyst for healing in relationships.

Don’t wait for some disaster to offer the olive branch of peace in a strained relationship. If you feel you have been wronged, let the Lord avenge it. Your interpretation of the situation or what “offended” you might, actually, be a bit off base. Feelings often lead us astray. And there are many sides to a story. We are, hopefully, changing and growing every day and learning more about ourselves and the world around us. What was worth battling about five years ago might just be a blip now, considering the circumstances. Lost time cannot be recovered but we can move forward together and in peace, making memories along the way.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV]

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold. [Ephesians 4:25-27 NIV]

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Uproot

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How does your garden grow?

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Have you ever moved to a new place and tried to get to know what plants are in your yard? If you don’t know much about plants, it can be confusing because as things start to green up in Spring it is exciting. But not everything that is green is good. Sometimes the weeds masquerade as something useful but soon they choke out other plants you actually do want. Getting rid of noxious weeds isn’t always fun. But, left unchecked, they can overtake a large area in a short amount of time.

Root them out!

And while you are in the business of getting rid of those unwelcomed guests, think about other things you might need to dig out and eliminate. Allowing things like

  • impatience
  • anger
  • suspicion
  • lies
  • resentment
  • fear
  • hatred
  • assumptions
  • selfishness
  • envy
  • jealousy
  • perfection

to be a part of your life can cause an unwanted invasion. And those things can quickly choke out the good things God wants to grow in you. Digging out this junk can be a bit of work. It takes a conscientious effort to uproot and eliminate those weeds. But doing so brings more space and freedom for the other, more Christ-like, qualities to grow and flourish.

Take stock of what is growing in your life today. Sowing seeds that produce patience, love, trust, honesty, appreciation, peace, joy, kindness, goodness, faith, mercy, and gentleness will result in an amazing harvest for you and those who are in your presence. Be deliberate about what you allow to remain in your life.

Life is too hard and too short to be growing all that ugly stuff. Be intentional about what you are growing in your heart and life. As you radiate God’s good gifts they will be a blessing to those all around you!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Mend

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The view from Torockó in Transylvania

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


When I think of the word “mend” I think of sewing a button on a shirt or fixing a hole on a beloved shirt. We can also “mend fences” which can be quite literal but can also refer to restoring a relationship.

It takes two to revive a relationship. Often one party is ready sooner than the other and needs to wait patiently for the other person to be in the space for rebuilding. I think it would be rare for two people at odds to both “throw down the hatchet” simulataneously but once both parties are open to restoration, God can work a beautiful, though often different, thing.

With fences, and relationships, if issues are addressed when smaller, things can be stabilized. But if there are many unhealthy situations that go unchecked over a period of time the day will surely come when the relationship cannot stand. Of course, there are some relationships that cannot and should not be mended. That takes a bit of thinking, praying, and wise counsel.

Life is short, so let’s mend fences where we can. God can help us discern which ones to restore and which ones to let go. And if you wish to repair something, remember, the other party may not share your desire just yet nor ever. Plant the seed. Extend the hand of peace. You are only responsible for your actions and that can lead you to peace even if the relationship is not one that can be restored. Even coming together to decide that the relationship is not healthy and won’t move forward is a mending of sorts and can leave you with peace.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

On the Way,
Liz

Peace AND Quiet

With so much unrest all around us, peace can be a difficult thing to find. Some of the unrest is in the world, some of it is in the not-so United States, some of it is in our churches, workplaces, and sometimes it is in our homes. With so many differences in opinion on how things should be addressed sometimes it is difficult to find and agree upon the best approach to resolving conflict.

  • Scientists disprove
  • Politicians agitate
  • World leaders argue
  • Bosses differ
  • Theologians contemplate
  • Siblings bicker
  • Parents wrangle
  • Children bandy

It can be exhausting!

Now I think I understand why my mom would occasionally ask for “peace and quiet”. When things are peaceful, it isn’t always quiet and when things are quiet, it isn’t always peaceful. But ask for both and cover all the bases!

We don’t always have control over what is happening in the world and in our immediate circle but we can look to the Lord for His wisdom and strength as we deal with life’s situations and receive His blessing of peace.

On the Road,

Liz

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His strength. His peace.

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There are so many people I know and love in the middle of situations that are very challenging and yet they persevere. I know it is because they are relying on God as their source of strength even if it is just one step at a time, one day at a time.

How easy it is for us to think, at least initially, that our strength, education, bank account, or resilience will get us through every situation. “The world” chides us for being weak or dependent both directly and indirectly. If we are indoctrinated by that garbage for too long it can seep into our souls and cause some problems. We might try to “power through” or “make it on our own” but it really can only get us so far.  We might look down on others for needing assistance but, if we live long enough, we will eventually find ourselves in circumstances that can bring us to our knees:

Aging parents. Disabilities. Death. Broken Relationships. Job loss. Natural disasters.

When I am on my knees it seems I am better able to see and hear the things from God that I need to know. I am not quite as distracted by the other nonessential things because my focus is on seeking the strength for the day. In some situations we might find we need assistance from others and it helps us get along. In other situations, we might find ourselves completely alone, with utter dependence on God and His provisions.

When we are smart or strong or physically able or have “enough” do we let God be our strength and our salvation?

strength1wThat is a challenge for me. Sometimes I get confused about how I am making it through life or a certain situation. It is very difficult to shut out the world’s way of thinking that everything is up to me and my efforts. The more resources I have at my disposal the easier it is to think that I am handling it all. Once I think it is all about what I am achieving, I get frustrated when things don’t pan out according to plan. But have I really dreamed up the best plan? It seems rather empty to chase after physical things and try to control all the things that happen in my life. The thought that I have control (and even make the best choices in situations when I can exercise control) is an illusion. Life is not all about me. Life is not all about you. My life is not my own. And neither is yours!

Have you been in a place where the outcome is out of your control and you just need to trust God to give you His strength?

Heavenly Father ~ give us your strength for this day and bless us with your perfect peace! Amen.

On the Road,

Liz

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PrayerPoints ~ Friday, February 26th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 31

“Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”  Psalm 31:16

David sure knows how to write with passion! As I read through Psalm 31, sometimes it is a huge stretch for me to think about where he has been and what he is writing about because I haven’t experienced his life. But others times, it seems like I have been where he has been–at least that is how  it feels when I read his words. David gives so many examples of the incredible highs and desperate lows that come with life and yet he consistently encourages us to take refuge in and trust the Lord.

Whether you are in that incredible high or desperate low, God is there! May your intentional time in His Word give you His instruction and grant you His peace!

 

Keeping the Peace

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Today’s Prayerpoint ~ Keeping the Peace

Do you have a peacemaker in your home, office, or life? Do they have a tendency to work hard to smooth things over so everyone appears “happy”? Is that what “peace” really looks like? Shouldn’t “peacemaking” be about hearing conflict and resolving conflict and not pretending conflict doesn’t exist?

Most people don’t like conflict but emotionally healthy people know how to deal with it. You can challenge me on this point but people who often work really hard to “keep the peace” don’t know how to deal with conflict and so they fear conflict. They appear to be peacemakers but their desperate need to avoid conflict creates conflict. Lots of conflict.

Stay with me here.

Conflict is inevitable. People are human and we have different goals, dreams, desires, and ways we see the world. I have never been in complete and total agreement with anyone in my life. And if you were honest, you would admit the same. Some differences do not create big problems – whether I like the blue car or the red car doesn’t usually really matter unless we are married and we are buying one car that we need share and you absolutely hate the color I absolutely love. What does the peacemaker do in that situation? They need to give in unless their passion is so strong they cannot or find an acceptable resolution that both parties can agree to.

If you have a tendency to be a “peacemaker” stop and consider how you respond in situations. In your rush to create peace are you creating more conflict? Lack of observable conflict and peace might look similar but they are very, very different. Please work to truly hear the issues of conflict because surrendering to keep the peace or always making others give in to “keep peace” doesn’t mean there is truly peace. You can say “The Emperor has new clothes!” but it doesn’t make it true! It is always better to get to the root of the conflict even though it often takes time and energy.

In Jeremiah, there is a verse that has always stuck with me and I think it fits these types of scenario well.

Jeremiah 6: 14
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.

May you seek true Peace from the Peacemaker!