September 16, 2018

Perfect Peace For A Perfect Storm

Day 1Read 1 Kings 19:1-3 Elijah was afraid, and he ran. We might look at the story and think he had every reason to run since someone wanted to kill him. Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It alerts us of danger and can motivate us to respond appropriately. Elijah was warned and he responded by fleeing to safety; so far, so good. But what happens next? Read the verses again, but this time, continue through verse 4. That escalated quickly! Instead of allowing fear to do the work of warning and motivating, Elijah let his fear completely redefine and shape his perspective. He moved from running to protect his life to wanting to give up his life. Notice he even begins believing a false narrative, “I am no better than my ancestors, I can’t go on.” Fear moved from a healthy place of warning and motivating movement, to controlling, re-framing, and manipulating the truth. Can you relate? When have you allowed fear or worry to grip you and change not only your perspective but your inner narrative and beliefs? In verses 3-5 we see that Elijah left his servant and journeyed on alone. Are you alone in your stuff? Or are you journeying with others? Who helps you maintain a perspective of truth? 

Day 2Read 1 Kings 19-5-7 and Psalms 102:1-7 “Forgive me for what I said when I was hangry.” When we are weary and overwhelmed, when we feel that we can’t go on, we may want to hide, isolate, and draw everything inward. In doing so, we may end up neglecting simple self-care activities and routines. Sometimes the most spiritual and wisest action we can take is to eat and rest. Even when we don’t necessarily feel like it, a walk can help. Acts of self-care are inherently good for us. Are there areas of self-care you are neglecting? Physical needs that aren’t being attended to? Medical needs that you are postponing? What step can you take today toward better self-care? You may not feel like doing them. Do them anyway. Continue to engage with family and friends. Is there someone who can help you? Ask a friend to go on a walk or meet for lunch. Or, perhaps there is someone you could reach out to and encourage. 

Day 3: As a pilot, your eyes are your primary sensory input while in the air. Looking outside, you see the ground below and the vast sky all around you. But all of that falls apart when you're in the clouds. The way to overcome flying in the clouds is to trust your instruments. When a pilot follows the instruments, nothing circumstantially changes. The cloud coverage and the illusion of which way is up are still there. Even though you look out the window, it may not feel right but when you engage back into your instruments you are reassured. What happens when we find ourselves in a cloud of worry, despair, or even hopelessness? Where does our minds lead us when the false narratives try to convince us our hope is lost, that we are alone, and God has abandoned us? How can you trust God’s truth, even when it doesn’t feel like truth?  Read John 14:18-20. What practices do you have or know about that help you reflect and take on God’s perspective? Is worship, community, serving, prayer, stillness, and reading and reflecting on God’s word a part of your life rhythm? 

Day 4: Read Psalm 88. As we read this Psalm, we are, in a sense, reading a private journal. Here we see David pouring out his innermost emotions, fears, anger, confusion, and questions. He doesn’t hide or shy away from God but is real with Him. We know much of what David is saying wasn’t a completely accurate picture.  David was not cut off from God’s care. God had not rejected him, nor covered him in wrath. It felt like that to David, yet he knew he could be honest with God about it. There are times, or there will be times, when we are angry, frustrated, overwhelmed and may even feel that God is against us. During these times, we may want to withdraw from God, hide or even pretend away our emotions and feelings. Have you ever laid your heart and emotions bare before God like this? If you are at a place of confusion, worry, doubt, anger or frustration, consider writing out a prayer or journal to God. Although it may feel scary to express these emotions, there is power in writing them out. Try it. If you need more encouragement today, listen to the song “To the Table” by Zach Williams. Hear the words and bring your fear, sorrow, and worries to Him.  

Day 5: Read Psalm 139. As you read pay attention to David’s perspective. He is frustrated and angry. He is calling out for the death of his enemies. We can relate. Then we come to verses 23 and 24 and something changes. David intentionally steps into his practices of seeking and allowing God to bring him back to a new perspective, into a “way everlasting.” There is no fix to the reality he currently faces, but a change of perspective back to the reality of who God is and how He says things really are. What step do you need to take today to align your perspective? Are there practices you need to incorporate into your routine? Are there areas of self-care you need to attend to? Are you consistently and intentionally engaging with others in community?