Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming Back to Center

 "Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”
(John 14:27).

It doesn’t do much good to tell someone that becoming a Christian will solve all of their problems and put them on the fast path to health and prosperity.  After all, they will find out the truth soon enough—either by their own life experiences or in the words of the Bible—that Jesus never promised an easy earthly path for His followers.  In fact, He warned us pretty directly:  “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).  No room for illusions there!
Jesus continues, though:  “But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I look at the swirl of daily circumstances in my life and the lives of my friends:  doctors’ appointments and medications; new schedules at the start of a new school year; concerns about caring for a child, or a parent, or both simultaneously; looking for work or heading into a new job; juggling complicated relationships.  If we all just pray and read our Bible, it will all work out.  Right?
To expect the whirlwind to settle, the problems to resolve themselves, and the pieces to fall into place just because I did my morning devotions or said my nighttime prayers is to imagine that I can achieve peace through something I, by my own efforts, have done.  That’s the same as trying to "make peace happen" for myself.  That’s the same as setting myself up for failure.

And yet prayer and time spent reading God's Word are fundamental to my walk as a Christian, fundamental to bringing me peace, fundamental to bringing me back to the joy of my salvation.  How does that work?
When I focus on the BEING rather than the DOING, the act of prayer and time spent in the scriptures can be life-changing by leading me back to the center of my peace--by BEING in God’s presence, BEING His child, BEING a part of the blessings promised to those who are united in Christ.
Yoga practitioners are urged to strengthen their core.  Those who meditate focus on their “center,” which is themselves and that present moment.  For the Christian--for me--that core, that center, is Christ.
In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young speaks of our inner calm as our peace in God’s Presence, which “need not be shaken by what is going on around you.” Reading her words made me visualize that swirl of daily schedules, chores, routines, and relationships I mentioned earlier, and then visualize myself rooted in the center with God’ peace at my core.  “Though you live in this temporal world,” Young writes, “your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity.”  How do I remind myself of that foundation?  Spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word, listening for His voice, watching for His movement in my world all brings me back to eternity.
If I work to find peace in this world, I may end up looking for a lo-o-ong time.  But when I seek my peace in God’s presence—a presence accessed through prayer and time in His Word, fellowship with and service to His people, and worship of His Person—then I am able to find what I am looking for.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls”
(Matthew 11:28-29).
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