The Peacefulness of Ruthless Trust

Verna and I snuck away for one of our retreats to the mountains of western North Carolina this past weekend. We both needed the time away. It's been a demanding season in the life of our family and the church I serve is facing some important challenges as we mature. 

Friday morning I wrote in my journal that my soul felt scattered and fragmented...

Because of the generosity of a good friend we've returned to the same place for many years now so the place has become a 'sacred space' for us - a place of rest and refreshment. One of the things I've observed over the years is how often the external conditions and seasons mirror the internal condition of my soul. Friday morning was overcast, cold and windy - the trees were rustling and bending beneath the weight of the wind. It was a fitting metaphor for how I felt that morning. So I asked Father to bring the peacefulness of His presence into my soul over the next few days.

One of the traditions I've developed over the years is reading a full book of the Bible during the time away. On the first morning I ask Father to lead me to what He would like me to read. Then I read as though it was written 'just for me' - I listen and journal my reflections. For this weekend I was led to the letter of Philippians. 

The reminders were timely...

  • I want every aspect of my life to bring honor to Christ (1:20)
  • For me living is Christ (1:21)
  • Although I sometimes feel torn between the desire to be freed from the frustrations of my life I must hang on the bigger picture of my life calling to serve people (1:23)
  • I've been given the privilege not only of trusting Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Christ. Struggle and suffering are simply part of the stewardship! (1:29)
  • I'm not to live stuck in my selfishness but from humility that thinks less about myself and more about others (2:3-5)
  • Stay away from complaining - it suffocates my soul (2:14-15)   Ouch...
  • The things that are so important to me are not 'that' important when compared to knowing Christ (3:7-8)
  • Stop relying on myself to please Christ - release it all Christ alone (3:9)
  • When I trust Christ I experience the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (3:19)
  • Faith is forgetting my past (my failures, regrets and shame) and focusing on my future with Christ (3:13)
  • Living from a place of joy and freedom - even when life feels heavy and hard - is the evidence of my ruthless trust in Christ (4:4)
  • When I replace worry with prayer I experience a peacefulness that quiets my mind and stills my heart (4:6-7)
  • Keep looking for the good - it's all around me if I simply pay attention (4:8)
  • Whatever it is I'm facing - I can find strength to face it well in Christ (4:13)

Sunday morning was beautiful - the sun was bright and warm, everything was calm and still. I smiled at the metaphor - my soul felt settled, calm and hopeful. Nothing in my circumstances had moved. But my soul had moved. 

Spiritual transformation is less defined by what we do than what we release - releasing the weight of our needs, agendas and expectations to the peacefulness of a ruthless trust in Christ's presence within us. 

Fighting for your hearts,

Gary