Peace can look like quiet waters, a river flowing gently.
So often, peace is equated with stillness, quiet, solitude. I know I feel such a sense of peace and solitude when walking on the river’s edge after a long day. The quiet waters, the sun shining, the path with sounds of life all around, but none too prevalent…it’s all a picture of peace.
But sometimes, the quiet, the solitude, the lack of churning of the water…can lead to…muck.
I heard the phrase, “pools of complacency” the other day, and it struck me to the core. The speaker was talking about the wages of a teacher in a third world country. It was $40, not….per day, per week, per month, but …per year. The wages of a teacher in this country? Forty dollars per year. I’m not here to debate anything, but I am here to confess that oftentimes I can lose sight of the big perspective. I can lose sight of what it means to survive. I can lose sight of being thankful, of being aware of needs, of being strategic and prayerful about meeting needs. I can come home after a day of work and sit. I’ll do the list of chores and then just sit, and not think anything of it.
And so, when I heard the term “pools of complacency”, I kind of thought about how often times when there’s struggle going on, there’s more of a drive to make a difference, more of an awareness of the need, the urgency, the privilege to act, to impact. As a mom of 6, there’s been a lot of chaos, disorder, and need that’s been apparent in our home. But as I’ve shared at times, the taking care of children was the least of it. A big part of what made life feel so “churned up” all the time, was having a husband dealing with alcoholism. That was what brought the chaos, unnecessary roller coaster rides, the deep aches and needs. At times we never knew what the next day would hold in a very real sense. But, in a strange sort of way, that heightened my awareness, my seeing with acuity the things that really mattered. I was on watch, on guard. No pools of complacency during those periods of vigilance. Nope not at all. No pools of complacency when in the survival mode. You know your mission every day.
Who would choose chaos? Very few people, I’d think! But often, in the chaos, we develop a keen awareness of what’s important, of what we’re fighting for. There’s a “churning up” of issues, that, like waters crashing into waves, oxygenates, brings movement, brings life. Who would choose pools of complacency? Very few people, I’d think. But often, we do choose placated peace…peace at all cost rather than moving forward or ‘stirring the waters’ so to speak in our lives and the lives of others.
As a wife of a recovering alcoholic, I know about “peace at all cost” that isn’t peace at all, but just a development of ….muck. It’s stagnant refusal to get the yuck out that leads to muck. It’s a stillness, a lack of movement, that can lead to spoiling of so much of the beauty in life. So, my point is, sometimes what appears as peace, is just a pool of complacency, and sometimes the very chaos that we’re fighting in our lives, may be the very things that are keeping us aware, attuned, and bottom-line, so aware of our need of God for our every breath. No self-sufficiency can reign in the life of one who is dealing with churning life issues that make us so aware of our need for God. And that’s a gift. The flip side of pain and struggle is to know our need. Yep, I believe that’s a gift.
Peace can reign in quiet waters, or in the wildest of storms. Peace can pass understanding and be a state of mind that rises above the wildest of circumstances because there’s an awareness that “underneath are the everlasting arms.” Peace comes from a knowing that it’s going to be alright even if it isn’t alright now. Peace, peace, is what God gives to us as we ask. Peace doesn’t always look like quiet waters on the outside, that’s for sure. But it can look like the eye of the hurricane where the world is spinning all around, but there’s a safe haven in the middle of it all.
I’m thankful for times of quiet, chaos-less periods when there is a respite. I really am. But I pray those times don’t lead to the counterfeit of peace…pools of complacency that lead to stagnation in my life on so many levels. And when the storms rage and the chaos hits? May we be centered, laser-focused on who God is in the middle of it all, so that we can know that peace that passes understanding is a reality…not just in the quiet waters, but in turbulent storms as well, because, as most all of us know, you just never know when the next ‘storm’ is going to hit. But I’m thankful that, just as a child bolts into his parents’ room when there’s lightening and thunder, that we can bolt to the throne of grace for a refuge in the storm. A refuge is good. A pool of complacency? Not so much. Just a few thoughts to remind myself to make my days count during this little tiny respite of my life…
“But I trust you, O Lord.” I say, “My times are in Your hand.”