Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peace Like a River

Now, if you grew up in or even around church at all you'll be familiar with the little ditty we all sang in children's church...

I've got peace like a river
I've got peace like a river
I've got peace like a river in my soul...

Sang that song about a gajillion times.  Seriously.  But I had no idea that the verse was actually tied to scripture.  Thank God for Beth Moore and the countless hours the woman spends studying the Bible.

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Isaiah 48:18

This is a new picture for me.  I heard countless sermons as a child about peace.

"Peace is like a tree in a storm.  The winds blow and though the branches sway, bend and even break at times, but the trunk of that tree WILL NOT MOVE."

I don't want to discount this picture.  It's a good one.  I have tapped into that imagery many a time, through many a storm.

But this river picture resonates deeply with me.  

A river is constantly moving.  Sometimes the current is swift and sometimes it's slow; sometimes it's a steady current and sometimes the rapids can be rather frightening.  

But a river also has boundaries - its banks.  And a river has direction - a path.  

This picture challenges my understanding of peace.  I've always thought peace was conditional.  

On my circumstances.  On my schedule.  On my state of mind.  

But if peace is like a river and the conditions of a river change ALL THE TIME, then the peace is not relative to the conditions of the river.  It is peaceful because it is a river and it because it is submitted to the creation and direction of God.  

My theme for this year is "Choose Peace."  

My life is NOT peaceful.  I am a busy woman.  I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN.  Enough said.

Beyond the day to day "busyness" of my life, there are many other factors that rob me of peace.  Little triggers that can so easily send me into a place of anxiety, unhappiness, discontentment.

A disagreement with my husband.

A disobedient child.  (Both of these, by the way, tend to lead me into false thinking that I am a failure as a wife and a mother.)

A simple mistake or oversight on my part.

The knowledge that someone isn't happy with me - for whatever reason.

And more dangerous are the painful memories from my past that pop up unexpectedly - they can take my breath away at times.  I'm always surprised by the pain.  And it always threatens my peace.

So this idea that peace is like an inconstant river is freeing for me.  I have peace because I am created by the Great Creator.  I have peace because I am choosing to walk in submission to His will for my life.  I can choose peace because it is a gift from God offered freely to me - regardless of my circumstances or how I FEEL at any given point in my day or my life.

Let the river flow...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Healing Hurts

My son, Charlie, is a lot like his dad.  All three of my sons, of course, bear Mark's resemblance, but Charlie seems to have received the greatest chunk of the "Mark" genes.  For the most part, this is a good thing.  Of course, as parents, there are always things we hope our children DON'T get from us and one of things Mark hoped his kids would avoid was his proclivity for canker sores.  These awful ulcers pop up inside Mark's mouth on a regular basis and unfortunately, Charlie has already had his fair share of them.

Charlie tends to endure pain in silence.  The kid has had a broken leg and a broken arm,  a horrible herpes infection in his eyes and pneumonia.  Most of these illnesses/injuries he suffered through while quietly playing Legos on the floor.  He can take a lot, so I know he is really hurting when he comes to me with heavy, downcast eyes to ask for help.

The other day I discovered that Charlie has had two large canker sores in his mouth for days, trying to deal with the discomfort on his own.  He mentioned this to me at bedtime and with more than a little hesitation.  We both knew what we were likely facing and neither of us were excited about it.

We have several approaches we take for pain relief when dealing with canker sores.  First, I offer him warm milk or yogurt.  Both are very soothing, but do little for his pain.  They make him feel better for a few minutes and maybe get his mind off the severity for a little while.  This is always our first approach because we both know the next option for pain relief is also the only one we have left - and the least desirable.

KANKA.  Ever hear of it?  It's this little vial of thick, orangish-yellow, strong smelling liquid.

This stuff is either from the devil or from God - depending on your perspective.

KANKA can be applied directly to a canker sore.  When applied, the patient will experience up to a minute or more of intense burning (MORE PAIN) until the medication actually anesthesizes the sore.

This is how we do it.

Me:  "Charlie, do you want me to use KANKA?"

Charlie:  "No."

Me:  "Are you sure?"

Charlie:  "It will burn!"

Me:  "I know, but then it will feel so much better, right?"

Charlie:  "Yeah.  But it burns so much when you put it on!"

Me:  "I know.  I'm not going to force you, Son.  If you want me to help you, I will put the KANKA medicine on it.  If not, you can just drink some more milk to see if that helps."

Charlie (now crying):  "That won't help."

Me:  "Well, then, do you want me to do it?"

Charlie:  "I guess so."

Now picture the scene.  A nine year old boy follows me into the bathroom, silently crying, dreading what's to come but resolved because he knows he can trust me and he knows from experience that even though he will hurt more first, he will hurt less eventually.  Then, he submits himself to my hands and stands perfectly still while I apply this stinging medicine on the sores in his mouth.  We work together and within a few minutes he is finally experiencing real relief.  His whole countenance changes.  He walks to the breakfast table with a smile on his face, sits down and enjoys a meal for the first time in days.

There's a spiritual application here, of course.

How many times have I endured pain silently because I was afraid to submit myself to the healing hand of the Father?  How many times have I assumed a path to healing was from the enemy simply because that path wasn't pain free?

Too many times.

Yes, healing hurts.  But only for a moment.

And His hands are gentle as he applies the medicine that brings me relief.  I can trust Him.