Nevertheless, Rejoice

Nevertheless, Rejoice

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and they said, “Lord, in your name even the demons are subject to us.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon snakes and scorpions and all the forces of the enemy, and nothing will ever harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in the knowledge that the spirits are subject to you. Rejoice rather that your names are inscribed in heaven.” ~ Luke 10:17-20

Through the power of the Spirit, we can accomplish mighty works for the Kingdom.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the name of Jesus, even the demons are subject to us.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the blood of our Lord, we can heal and be healed of our afflictions.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the whisper of the Helper, we can be given answers to any question.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the provision of the Father, we can flourish in any circumstance.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the hand of our Lord, enemy eyes can be blinded.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

Through the power of our God, nature can be subjected to us.
Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in that.

He gives us everything. He gives us the world. He gives us the Kingdom. He gives us dominion not only of the creation notes in Genesis, but over the world we cannot see–those princes and powers that Paul talks about. Through the name of Jesus, all is subject.

Do we walk in that? Do we live those promises? The disciples that Jesus sent out did, and they were not only amazed, they came home practically dancing in joy. I can’t blame them! After a lifetime of a workaday existence, suddenly they understand what it means to hold authority. They see miracles that they got to be a part of. They got to witness the boundless joy of parents whose children were healed, of people whose lives were given back to them, of demons cast out.

This is amazing, earth-shifting stuff. Amazing, earth-shifting stuff that Jesus commands them to do, first here and then in the Great Commission. These things are meant to be not the exception but the rule of walking with Him.

And yet . . . and yet.

That is not what we should crave. That is not what should fill our hearts with joy. That is not what it’s all about.

No. What it’s all about is belonging with God. Being reconciled to Him. Becoming a true son or daughter of the King, so that our names are written in Heaven. Inscribed there. We become part of Heaven’s history, part of its future. We are in its books.

It’s so interesting how Christ talks about this, though, isn’t it? He doesn’t say, “It doesn’t matter if you do any of these great things or not, because at least your name is inscribed in heaven.” Nope. What He says is, “Yes, you can do all this. You must. You will. But that is just the manifestation of the true miracle: you are now sharing with Me, the Heir to that Kingdom, all that comes with it. You are God’s child and He is your Father.”

So often I think we have it backward. We consider salvation the easy thing and miracles the hard thing. We consider believing in Christ the nominal thing and the promised, amazing works the nearly impossible thing. But Jesus, as He so often does, flips our understanding around and says, “No. The true miracle is your salvation. And once you have that, the greatest miracle of all time, what are the others? They’re just the crumbs that fall off the feasting table.”

We can do all things through Christ–we can flourish in trials, we can rejoice in pain, we can remain humble in abundance, we can share the grief of others in the midst of our own joy. Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in what we see Him doing.

Rejoice in who we’ve become through our faith in Him–beloved sons and daughters of the King of kings.

First Say Goodbye

First Say Goodbye

In I King 19, we get the story of when Elisha is called to follow Elijah:

So Elijah left that place and found the son of Shaphat who was plowing with twelve yokes of oxen preceding him (he was driving the twelfth pair himself), and he tossed his mantle on him. 20 Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and mother good-bye and then I will follow you.” But he said, “Go back, what have I done to you?”

21 He went back, and took a yoke of oxen and killed them. He used the oxen’s equipment to boil their meat, and he gave it to the people to eat. He then got up and followed Elijah, ministering to him.

Then in Luke we get a rather similar sounding story with two variations, but in which the would-be followers are unnamed and the teacher is Jesus:

59 To another he said, “Follow me.” The man replied, “Lord, allow me to go first and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You are to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Another man said, “I will follow you, Lord, but allow me first to say farewell to my family at home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Have you ever wondered at the difference in these two passages? In the Gospels, we’re given the impression that to “go and say goodbye” or “bury my father” is grounds for being rejected; yet in the Old Testament, Elijah says, “Hey, I’m not forcing you to do anything here. If you wanna say goodbye, go for it.”

Given how brief these passages are, my musing here is going to be pure conjecture…but hey, that’s why we’re here, right? To muse and consider.

One thing that I want to put out here right away is something I read recently in a biography of Mary Madgadelene: Biblical writers were very conscious of what they were saying about people either alive or revered. In the Old Testament, we regularly see sins of the patriarchs not expounded on. It wasn’t because everyone didn’t know they were sinning, but rather because they were giving respect to their ancestors. The same sort of thing often happened in the New Testament. If the person about whom they were writing was still alive and their privacy or safety was at stake, the writers chose to leave then nameless; they’d do the same if a story could reflect negatively on someone they didn’t want to disrespect. (I don’t know about you, but I found that fascinating and insightful! Like, oh, they were left nameless on purpose and for a reason. That explains a lot!)

So why might these nameless people in the Gospel have been dismissed? We can assume it was for a negative reason. That they made the wrong choice. That their intentions weren’t good. That the truth would have reflected negatively on them.

Elisha, however, is a different case altogether. Yes, he asked to go say goodbye…but what do we then see him doing? He’s not embracing his parents and weeping for the life left behind. He’s certainly not following Elijah half-heartedly. He returns to offer a sacrifice. More, he particularly chooses to sacrifice the work he had been doing. He uses the very oxen he’d been plowing with, and their yokes for the fire. This wasn’t just a farewell to his parents–this is a very symbolic action, in which he is giving all he was, all that represented his family and stable, even wealthy life, to God. He put it quite literally on the altar. We don’t actually see him saying that promised goodbye to his parents, but we can assume they came out to see what in the world he was doing and said goodbye.

The important thing here is that he didn’t just drop everything–he left it for good. When he decided to follow the path of the Prophet, he followed with his whole heart.

If we look at the disciples, we see similar stories. When Jesus called them, they came running. Now, we also know they didn’t just abandon their families–after all, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. They were still in the same neighborhood, they still stayed at their own homes at least from time to time. This was not a hateful, disrespectful thing they did. But in the moment, they came with their whole hearts. The questions of “how will we survive?” and “what will people think?” weren’t relevant to this decision.

Jesus called–or in Elisha’s case, God the Father called–and they answered. They answered with a resounding, “I’m coming, Lord! Here I am!”

Those two nameless would-be followers, though…one approached Jesus, but it seems He saw something reserved in the man. He issued a warning. We don’t even see whether this deterred the man or not, but we assume it did. Then He calls to another, who presumably wasn’t asking for a few minutes like Elisha was, so he could go and sacrifice everything–Jesus, who knew his heart, must have known that. That he wasn’t just asking to say goodbye…he was perhaps looking for an excuse to delay. He wanted to see the people who would talk him out of it, so he could come back, perhaps, and say, “Sorry, Lord, my dad really needs me, and we’re supposed to honor our parents, so…”

And we are. Of course we are. But here’s the thing: we’re not honoring our parents if we’re disobeying God. He is our ultimate Father. So when He calls, there is only one right answer. To follow. To follow without looking back with longing on the life you’re leaving behind. To follow without looking for excuses to change your mind. To follow with your whole heart–and to minister. Did you catch that in Elisha’s story? He followed Elijah and ministered to him.

God asks easy things of us, and He asks hard things too. He asks us to give of ourselves and put Him first. He asks us to draw ever closer to Him, knowing that the more we give up of our own lives, the more we’ll be given the life He wants for us. He promises abundance…but it just doesn’t always look like we expect it to. Elisha went on to receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and the disciples went on to perform miracles “even greater” than the ones Christ performed. They lived rich, full, crazy lives.

I like to think that those unnamed would-be followers in fact did become followers, and that’s why these stories don’t name them. Because they saw the fault in their initial reaction and shared the stories with the others of the time they messed up. But praise God, He doesn’t just call our name once. Much like He did with Samuel, He calls it until we learn how to answer him.

What sort of goodbye do you say when He calls you?

 

Blessed Is She Who Believed

Blessed Is She Who Believed

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears,
the baby leaped in my womb for joy!
Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment
of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”
~ Luke 1:42-45 (emphasis mine)

I’ve read this so many times, but this time, as I read it in day 2 of my prayer journal, The Life of Christ, that one phrase stuck out to me: Blessed is she who believed.

This phrase tells me something, something about Mary that we need to emulate. Blessed is she who believed. How hard that must have been! First, to see an angel and actually believe the experience was real. Then to believe the thing he told her was possible, even though all logic, all laws of nature, the very order that God Himself had put in place said it wasn’t.

Mary believed anyway.

She believed that God could create life from nothing. She believed God would protect her long enough to see that life to birth, even though by law she could have been put to death. She believed that even if this baby who shouldn’t logically exist meant being cast out of her home, cast away from Joseph, that God would provide for them. She believed that the promise of God would protect, provide, and be the only thing she ever needed.

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment.

Here is a mystery of our faith, of our Lord: God doesn’t need our belief to make His word happen. We see that over and again in the Old Testament. But ther’s still something about the combination of God’s word with our faith that brings about blessing, that creates good things from nothing.

By her belief, by her yes, Mary took hold of a blessing beyond what any other woman in history could claim. She became the living ark of God’s Living Word. She became the mother of God the Son. She became the mother of the church, remembered and esteemed by every believer throughout history.

Because she believed.
Because she believed, we can believe.

Elizabeth too demonstrates this crazy belief. She had first believed her own impossible motherhood–perhaps that’s what prepared her to believe Mary’s even less-possible state. Elizabeth is so fascinating, isn’t she? We know her husband doubted, but it would seem that she didn’t. She knew life would find her, and she knew her son was something special. Yet she also knew, the moment she heard Mary’s voice, that her child was THE child. Elizabeth began John’s work for him that day, before he was even born.

As I pondered this, I wondered how I could apply it to motherhood, Godly motherhood, in general. Maybe part of being a godly mother is believing in and acting on the callings of our children, even before they’re old enough to know it. Quite a thought, isn’t it? I don’t pretend to know what my children will end up doing, exactly. But then…neither did Mary and Elizabeth. Not exactly. They didn’t know the exact words they would say, the exact messages they would preach, the exact journeys they would travel. They only knew that they had been ordained by God to do His work.

Perhaps we and our kids aren’t all Johns and certainly aren’t all Jesus. But we’re all called to do our part for the Kingdom, including our children. Have I acted on that belief? Have I proclaimed enough that my children are children of the King?

Blessed is she who believed.

Blessed is she who believed in the purpose of her child–that can be said of both of these cousins. They, who would become the teachers of these two remarkable men. They who claimed a blessing not just through motherhood but through their faith in impossible life. They, who are among the most famous women in history, because they said yes.

Because they believed.

What are you being asked to believe today from the Lord?

This phrase struck me so much, I decided I wanted some visual reminders of it!
I designed the words with a beautiful floral background and then created some items for your desk and home. Each one has two color options, because I couldn’t decide which I liked best, LOL.

I hope you enjoy the pillows, blankets, wall art, and notebooks as much as I do!

(As a note, these are all created through a printing service that ships them directly from their facility,
so it will charge shipping costs automatically based on where they’re shipping from.
That means separate shipping from items I fulfill directly.)

Journey Through Prayer

Journey Through Prayer

One of my goals for the year was to spend more dedicated time in prayer. So every morning, I’ve been doing my Bible reading and then taking about half an hour to focus on communing with God. Not just the on-the-fly prayers I send up through the day, but time when I’m really focusing, really listening.

Every other time in my life when I’ve tried this sort of thing, I’ve ended up so distracted, my thoughts flying a million different directions, that it hasn’t lasted long. A couple days, maybe a couple weeks, and then I forget one day, and the next day, and so on.

This time, though, has been different. This time I’ve been feeling anchored. This time, I’m keenly aware of the blessing of time spent with the Lord.

It was during one of these prayer times a few weeks ago when I found myself contemplating the process of prayer itself, and this idea came to me–the sort that brought with it instant excitement.

Prayer journals.

Not just blank or lined notebooks, mind you…and not the sort of journals I saw on Amazon with a couple designed pages for listing prayer requests and Scripture that repeated over and over. No, I wanted to create journals to guide us in contemplative prayer. The sort of prayer where you’re focusing first on Scripture and then diving deep into the questions about it that lead us to deeper understanding, with a new one each day. The sort of prayer that is all about drawing closer to God through new depths of understanding, and working daily to align our will more fully with His.

I was so excited that I took a few minutes to design covers for these journals, to choose sizes, and then to work up a gorgeous interior design. I took two days to work on the guided contemplation and get a file together, and then I sent it to my Patrons & Peers ladies for their feedback.

Their excitement convinced me this really was a good idea. I uploaded the first file to Amazon, ordered a proof, and then went about editing and fine-tuning.

This is the result.

What you see here is a series of journals called The Life of Christ. Let me walk you through it.

First, the concept is that each day we focus on a different part of Christ’s life, from His conception all the way up through His reign in Heaven, glimpsed in Revelation. There is so much to learn by studying and dwelling on some of the momentous events of His life! There are certainly many more that I could have included, and I may do a second series on His life in the future, but for now, these. =)

Each day begins with an announcement of that day’s theme. (Isn’t it pretty? Siiiiigggghhhh.)

When you turn the page, you’ll see a traditional prayer and then a Scripture selection about that theme.

Why a traditional prayer? Well, a few years ago my family decided to start doing a family prayer time, and we bought a common prayer book that aimed at ecumenism between the different branches of the Christian faith–Catholic and Protestant, High church and low, liturgical and free-form. Some of these old, traditional prayers were in there, and I was dumbfounded by their beauty. I’d never attended a High, liturgical church, but I found myself not only loving the structure, but loving the thought and care and profound insights of these prayers that had been written by believers so many centuries ago, and which were still in use because they were so…true. So beautiful. So real.

One of the things I love most about this though isn’t the prayers themselves–it’s the fact that by praying them, we are linked with other Christians, around the world and throughout history, who are praying and have prayed and will pray those same prayers. I believe in a God of eternity, one who is outside of time. I love the fact that we can partake of that eternity here in our linear time, in these small, crucial ways.

So I included a traditional prayer with each day.

The Scripture passage is often abbreviated, but if I’d “edited for space” I indicate that by saying it is from that passage. I also list see also references to where the same story is told in other books.

When you flip the page again, you’ll see the “Things to Consider” page.

Here I begin with a short reflection of my own on the passage. Then I give you four writing prompts. Choose 1 or 2 to write about that day, whichever spark your thoughts or resonate most deeply in your heart. The idea isn’t to cover it all. The idea is to dive deep into whatever the Lord is whispering to your spirit that day.

As you can see, the right-hand page begins your writing pages. Date it, and then start journaling!

I did a bit of trial and error to decide on how many pages of writing space to include, how wide to make the lines, what style of lines to use…all that fun stuff. I’m quite pleased with the style and feel that I came up with–I printed them out and tried them before deciding!–and I hope you’ll find them condusive to your writing too!

In terms of number, I settled on 3 of these lined pages–the one beside the “Things to Consider” page, and a full spread of them too.

One more flip, and you’ll find another lined page, but for prayer requests and your notes on other Scripture passages that either came to mind or which you’ve recently read and want to make note of.

That is the end of that day, assuming you do one theme a day. The next one then begins with a new announcement.

The journal has 21 entries and 176 pages, which will fill about a month of weekday journaling. But you’ll notice that there are four designs. Why?

Because one of the most beautiful things about contemplative prayer is what happens when you repeat the cycle.

What jumped out at you this time will now be the foundation you’re standing on when you go through the material again. New questions or thoughts or ideas will demand your attention when you read through the same passages next time.

With this in mind, these journals are created to be repeated. You’ll find several different designs in the same series; the interior material is largely the same, only with new prompts for writing and a design to match the cover. The cover and design do change as well, to differentiate them on your shelf or in your drawer. They’re each designed with space to write your own numbering system and date span on the spine and back cover for easy reference. Repeat the series as many times as you desire!

Sections in The Life of Christ series include things like:

  • Jesus Is Coming
  • Magnify the Lord
  • Jesus Is Here
  • In His Father’s House
  • True Communion
  • King of the Curse
  • He Is Risen!
  • Christ Reigns

And of course, many more. =) The journals are available in paperback, eBook, and hardcover as well. All versions are available on Amazon and will soon be on other retailers. And of course, you can order the print versions all here on my website! (I’m happy to sign these if you want me to, but as they’re not really about the words I wrote in them, but rather the words you will write in them, the default for these will be NO SIGNATURE, like a regular product. To request a signature, simply put it in the order notes, and I’ll write you a little note and sign it on the first page, where otherwise you write your name and date.)

If these prove to be a hit, I have quite a few other ideas for more contemplative prayer journal themes for this JOURNEY THROUGH PRAYER series, all with unique designs and focuses, including:

  • The Psalms
  • Be Not Afraid
  • Advent
  • Lent
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Peace

And I’m also very interested in what themes YOU would like to explore, so I do have contact information in there, so you can tell me your ideas!

Please note that as of the posting of this,
I’m still waiting for my stock copies to arrive.
Thanks for your patience!

Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before Swine

Do not give to dogs anything that is holy.
And do not cast your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them under their feet
and then proceed to tear you to pieces.”
~ Matthew 7:6

This verse came up in a conversation lately…a conversation about the place of Christians in a very un-Christian culture. When, we may ask, do we shake the dust of this world off our feet? When do say “Enough!” and retreat from the forums that snap and harass us? When do we give up on people or networks or communities?

Enter this verse. According to some very well-established commentators like Matthew Henry, this verse is speaking about how some people in the culture are so far gone into the ways of evil as to be classifiable as “dogs” and “swine,” and that we are in fact wasting our efforts and squandering the Gospel by continuing to offer it to them.

This wasn’t sitting right with me. How about you? First of all, there’s the obvious dilemma: How do you know who is true “swine” and who will turn into the next Paul? How in the world can we, mortals that we are, judge such a thing? Especially given the fact that Matthew 7 opens with the warning “Judge not, lest you be judged by the same measure.” And follows it with “Remove the plank from you own eye before you try to remove the speck from you brother’s.” Then this verse comes. And do you know what follows? “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened.”

As I read these verses in context and tried to figure out why I was daring to argue with Matthew Henry, it hit me: This famous “pearls before swine” verse is not about “them” at all. It’s about us. And it can be summed up in these two questions:

Why would we give holy things to dogs?
Why would we cast something as precious as pearls into the pigsty?

This passage isn’t calling out the world for being unworthy, nor is it telling us we need to be aware of the unworthiness. We all know what to expect in a pigsty, after all. But keep in mind that this passage did begin with “judge not.” We don’t know when one of those hate-filled people around us is going to become the next Paul thanks to our faithfulness. We don’t know, we can’t know…and we also don’t need to know.

What we do need to know is how to treat the good news that Christ brings. Look at those verses again, in light of those questions. What if, instead of saying, “Man, look at the filth of the world! Don’t sully yourself with that,” it’s saying, “Why are you treating what is holy and precious so cheaply?”

Do we truly understand the value of the gift we’ve been given?

Think about it. What do you give to the dogs or pigs? Leftovers. Garbage. What’s spoiled or unusable. They get the feed that isn’t quite up to human standards. They get it because they enjoy it, and it’s what they’re created to eat–we’re not doing them a disservice by feeding pigs with slops.

But can you imagine, seriously, tossing an heirloom into the pig pen? Can you imagine giving your dog your Bible as a chew toy? Of course not! But when do we do that without realizing it, when it comes to the people around us?

Maybe it’s when we greet grief or pain, anxiety or mental illness with catchphrases instead of genuine listening, loving hearts.

Maybe it’s when we assume that people who have a political opinion we don’t like can’t really be children of God too.

Maybe it’s when we help spread fear and distrust and hatred and claim that we’re doing it in the name of Jesus.

Maybe it’s when we use words of blessing but mean them as a curse.

This is not treating the sacred as sacred. This is not treating the treasure as something to be cherished. This is valuing ourselves and our wants and our comforts above the Kingdom we’re called to serve.

We have to discern the difference between what we should hold most dear and what leftovers we can toss out to the animals. So what do we place the most value on, and what do we hold too loosely? Do we hold our earthly things to our chest and then “toss out” the Gospel message because it costs us nothing? Are we treating it like leftover scraps that we don’t need anymore? Or do we “toss out” those earthly things to anyone who needs them, holding close and demonstrating the value of the spiritual by treating it with the utmost respect? That doesn’t mean that we don’t share it–it means that we make it clear what we’re sharing is precious and important.

It’s far too easy to read those verses and mount up on our high horses, where we can look down on those dogs and pigs. When, though, did Christ ever call us to do that? No. He calls us to wash the feet of the people who have been in that pigsty. He calls us to serve and love them. He also calls us to recognize that the most valuable thing we will ever encounter is not gold or jewels, a nice house or a fast car, a great insurance plan or a job with upward mobility.

The most valuable thing we will ever encounter is the love of God, poured out for us on Calvary.

Do we value that so highly that we share it as treasure…or as leftovers?

My Peace I Leave You

My Peace I Leave You

“Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives
do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled;
be not afraid.

~ John 14:27

What is peace? Jesus promises to leave us with it–not just any peace, but His peace. It’s something we all know we need. Something we crave. Something we spend money searching for and trying to grab hold of. Something we tout.

But do we really understand it? Like, really understand it?

What is peace? Is it the absence of strife? Of conflict? Of war? It is “the state of tranquility or quiet” like the dictionary says? Or “a state of security within a community”? Is it just “freedom from disquieting thoughts” or “harmony in personal relations”?

Maybe peace is, in a way, all of those things. But that is peace as the world knows it–as the world gives it.

The peace of Christ is something different. It’s something more…but also something more fundamental. Whole books can be and have been written on the subject, and it’s one I’ve really wanted to lean into from the biblical perspective. I’ve read about it. I’ve talked about it. I’ve studied it. Not enough, but enough to get started thinking it through in words here (no doubt I’ll have more on the subject later!).

A few weeks ago, my husband was speaking with a board of directors. He’d been nominated to be the new president of this board for a non-profit, and one of the others asked him, “Do you feel peace about this?”

Now, my husband is a man of deep and thoughtful faith, but he’s also a man who has taken great pains to separate his faith from mere feeling or emotion. So this phrase–do you feel peace–has long grated on him. He will say that never once in his life did he “feel peace” about a decision before it was made–though he frequently feels it after it is made. To some, this seems like a lack of faith.

But it isn’t. It is, in fact, a very true and primal kind of faith: the kind that says, “I will trust you, Lord. I will trust who you made me to be. I will trust that when I’m chasing after You, even if I make a mistake, you will redeem it. I trust that even if my fallibility, I can’t possibly undo your will…even if I’m not 100% sure what that is.”

Because how often are we really 100% sure? More, how often are we supposed to be? A couple years ago a friend sent me a book called Searching for and Maintaining Peace. She sent it “just because,” but it arrived while we were in the hospital with my son, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It took me a while to get around to reading it, but it became one of those books where I had to underline and highlight insights all over the place.

One of the things the author pointed out which really resonated with me was that true faith, true peace isn’t about always hearing God perfectly. It’s about knowing that, even when we don’t, He is still there at work. That part of this journey of faith is training ourselves in His ways enough that, even when He’s silent, we can still act. We can still choose good things. Just like as kids grow up they have to learn to make decisions without parental input, so do Christians have to learn to live, making day-to-day decisions whether they’re absolutely certain about the “rightness” or not. God is there, He’s watching, He’s comforting…but He’s also saying, “Go ahead, beloved. Step out. I’m right here if you falter.”

That is true peace. Not a lack of conflict. Not security from your community. Not harmony with others. True peace, the peace given by Christ, is trust. True peace, the kind our Lord and Savior gives us, is knowing that we cannot possibly outpace His love. We cannot fall so far that He isn’t there to catch us. We cannot undo His will. True peace is knowing that even when circumstances are terrible and our world is crumbling around us, nothing can take away the most precious thing in the world: our salvation. True peace is knowing that the only identity we really need is Child of God.

When we can really claim that, when our prayers and contemplation are not about what we need or want or hope to do, but in who we are in Christ, then we’ll also be able to claim exactly what Jesus instructs. Our hearts will not be troubled. We will not be afraid.

Are you troubled? Afraid? We’ve all been there, or are there right now, or will be in the future. But the more we focus on the truth that we’re not defined by our jobs or our place of residence, by our marriages or our children or our families, by what we’ve accomplished or where we’ve failed, the more we’ll find that fearless peace.

Because we are God’s. And He is our master. And Christ has left us with something the world does not give and the world cannot take away. He has given us a gift of peace that stills our hearts and girds our minds with courage.

Be not afraid. Be not troubled. You belong to the Lord.