big wooden cross on green grass field under the white clouds

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.

Philippians 4:6, 7

June 29, 2018

How do I maintain the peace of God when the outside world is filled with evil, catastrophes, racial differences, slick leaders, and negativity? How do I stand firm in the peace of God?

I’m beginning to notice an immense disruption of peace when I leave the solitude of my quiet time. My moments with God are drastically different from what the outside world has to offer.  Leaving the Holy environment that He has created in our time together is quite arduous. I feel a deep, overwhelming remorse, and I experience a greater hesitation when disengaging from His loving presence and our conversations. The thought of stepping back into worldly circumstances and conflicts is not appealing. I thirst for this oneness with God all day and every day. My state of mind is calm, my heart is joyful, I cry tears of emotion, and I’m loved through it all.

I am incredibly thankful for this free time to enhance and deepen my relationship with Jesus. Shutting down the noise is a perfect opportunity to sit still and reflect on whatever it is that is distressful or praiseworthy! Life does get busy with responsibilities. Where is the daily space to rejuvenate, refill and worship? It needs to be found because all the running about will intrude on serenity and eventually cause opposing emotions. Fear, stress, anxiety, and depression has ruled over my life for many years, and I know there are many who struggle with these same afflictions. How can we cope? Where do we turn? For me, it has been food and mindless activity. If only I would have known the peace of Jesus, I could have held onto to Him and saved my sanity!

Conflict and challenges exist in life. Where there are people gathered, differences will be inevitable. The outcome doesn’t always end in disaster. Beauty and glory arise from struggle! Wisdom and strength are there for the taking. We just need to see it and go after it. We can adapt and overcome and become stronger and better each day!

I’ve noticed a drop in my mental health (no surprise to me) this past week, and I’m determined to take this as a challenge towards my spiritual growth instead of falling headfirst down the spiral staircase and into a black hole of nothingness. The atmosphere in which I stand is filled with a fair amount of stress and discontent. Negativity and strife are everywhere! I find myself losing patience, joy, compassion, and peace. By the end of my day, I’m discouraged, disheartened and empty. I’m desperate to close the door to what’s outside and jump full force into God’s peace and serenity. There is a battle going on within me, and it’s time to release what isn’t necessary to God’s Kingdom and grab onto what is. My first thought is to isolate but this isn’t the Will of God! I cannot rearrange my life to line up perfect peace. There isn’t any place in the Bible that says that we are to “sit” with Jesus all day, every day! That time will come but it isn’t here yet. We are to go out into the world and spread the glory of God, through all circumstances. This is what God has called us to do. This is what I must do!

As believers, the Lord has given us His gift of peace. John 14:27 says:

I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

On June 30, 2018, I sent out a post to my Weight Watcher friends:

“Would love to hear where you find your peace! I’m writing a blog post on God’s gift of peace, and I’m wondering, in times of great stress and conflict, where or what do you do to find your peace? I think this is incredibly important because, for me, in times of heightened emotion, I eat. If I were to cling to peace, would I be less inclined to eat? It is a challenge to remain peaceful but definitely worth pursuing.”

The response was small but thought-provoking–prayer, sitting in nature, friends, and family, Jesus and Scripture. I thanked them all for their replies and told them that I will take what they’ve said and apply it in the coming week, knowing full well that a spiritual challenge was upon me.

July 1, 2018

The Lord woke me early this morning. I’m pulled from a deep sleep around 4:30 AM. I fought to get my eyes open but only because I felt a powerful motivation to do so. I got up briefly and then got back in the bed but could not fall asleep. Mental processing was slow but when my thoughts finally came around they were directed towards my daughter. I felt concern for her which could have easily led to a deep worry and then into extreme anxiety, but I forced myself to reflect on the peaceful Scriptures that I had read the just other day.

The Lord spoke to my heart:

There is no need to worry! This is not going to solve anything. I am carrying her in my arms; she is safe! I am Lauren’s creator, and I loved her before you even got the chance. Relax and breathe in peace! Surrender your concerns; distress will get you nowhere! I can’t work through You if you are turned inward.

Thankfully, I’m pulled back to Him; I sink into his calm and let myself drift in and out of a light sleep. My guard is let down, and I’m rehashing the encounter last night with a pastor who was greeting at the entrance of the church auditorium. I hadn’t seen him in awhile and felt somewhat awkward. Perhaps, I should have stopped and made conversation with him. I did reach out to him in kindness but now feel as if an explanation is needed for my rude and dismissive behavior.

Once again, the Lord spoke:

Surrender Racinda! Why are you determined to take control? It isn’t up to you to determine my steps and actions. Move aside! You did nothing wrong!! You greeted him, you told him how nice it was to see him, and you lovingly touched his hand. All is well. Give it to me and I will solidify the rest. So I did!

The devil wasn’t finished with me yet. The fiery darts were thrown in full force. A dark conversation began:

There has got to be something seriously wrong with me? I should be taking cholesterol medication but what side effects will I suffer? You are destined to have a stroke or a heart attack. God will heal me so no statin is required, right? You’ve got cancer and it’s eating you alive! You have months to live!!

The devil has always been successful with this weapon against my health. Distraction from God has always been the result. When these thoughts came, they used to frighten the life out of me. Panic would arise, and it would take hours for me to recover and only because I would get busy doing something else. To be honest, it never truly went away. It always popped in and out of my brain whenever I had a moment of stillness.

I recited Biblical peace as I tossed and turned in the bed. By this time it was almost five so I concluded that Jesus had a Word for me which is why I was taken from my sleep with such an urgency. I got up because I didn’t want to miss out. I had high expectations that He would speak to me about peace and submission.

I’m at my desk by 5:15 AM with coffee in hand and ready to receive. I open in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for waking me early this morning. I know you have something for me so I sit here expectantly. I need whatever it is that you have for me, and I’m not looking for anything materialistic. I just want You. I want to hear from you and I want to feel You. I want to grow, and I want to do good things for You and for people. Let my eyes, ears, and heart be tuned to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I sat in silence doing nothing at first. I looked around at the resources before me: Scripture affixed to my computer, desk, and wall, favorite devotionals piled around me and my Bible and journal open with pen and highlighter positioned on top. The need to write dominant over everything else.

July 1, 2018/Journal Entry

Up early this morning–pulled from a deep sleep at 4:30 AM. No work today but I am up because I believe the Lord has a Word for me. Last night I went to church and the pastor who spoke asked us to reflect, during our time of response, on what it is that God is calling us to do.

What is God calling me to do?

Surrendering all to Him–clinging to His peace in all circumstances and speaking out on His behalf. Before I open my mouth, I have to be sure that what I say is coming directly from Him. I am His voice. I don’t have to struggle and strive to hear and obey–to do good. Wait on the Lord and then pray for His strength and wisdom and then obey.

In all spiritual challenges, there is an opportunity for deeper intimacy with God, growth, and blessings–not just for me but for all believers. I need to put my full focus on listening out for God in all areas of my life, wherever I am. As I wait for His call, I’m instructed to reach out to all in love and in encouragement–hang onto His peace and surrender all negativity and opposition to Him. Don’t take on what others say and feel. Remain steady in God’s promises which will prevent crumbling to disheartening events all around me. This will only leave unrest and His gift of heavenly peace and perspective will be jilted.

I need to recognize a spiritual fall of vision and light and remove myself before I revert back into old behaviors. I have to be proactive and seek God as soon as I feel His peace fading out–when I feel a disconnection. Life is filled with calamity and sadness. We are not always going to be sailing along joyfully. We are not promised an easy life.

God’s peace is different from the world’s peace. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Our citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin. Let God’s peace guard your heart against anxiety.

Philippians 4:6, 7

July 5, 2018/Journal entry

Listening to a radio message from Charles Stanley and he states that it is the believer’s choice to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

It is truly that easy? Ask and you shall receive–you shall be filled if you believe! Have I been approaching “peace” in all the wrong way–by struggling and striving? I’ve been trying to find peace instead of expressing my needs to God and praying for His peace. Cleanse, yield to God’s control in all situations, believe and rest.

I know what it feels like to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I know when I’m walking in the Spirit. When I feel that shift to walking in the flesh because of complaining, gossiping, negativity, and any other attributes of darkness, I need to stop immediately and cleanse by praying for the forgiveness of my sins, yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit (giving God control of all situations that are out of my own hands), believe that He has control and rest.

There is no trust when I continue to manipulate my environment to gain peace–to struggle and fight for silence, order, calm and stillness. My end result, after all of this fruitless work, is not going to bring on the godly results that I’ve been reading, meditating and praying on. This can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve got to trust Jesus with my issues–release all burdens to Him. He knows what to do with them!

Heavenly Father, I pray for the forgiveness of my sins. I’ve been walking in the flesh instead of your Spirit. I’m getting nowhere! I am angry, frustrated and irritated with my surroundings. I grumble and complain to myself and to others and I’m eating my feelings instead of coming to you. I turned inward and did exactly what I thought would make me feel better. I did everything I knew to do, except come to you.

I relinquish my control of walking in the flesh and instead I will walk in your Spirit. I pray for the fruit of your Spirit, and I believe by faith that I am filled and I will rest.

I pray for forgiveness for manipulating my circumstances and environment. I was trying to achieve an absence of conflict by my own strength. I am thankful that I can step back and let you lead. Let me step by your steps. I let go and let You. I am thankful that I can simply ask for anything and in my belief of you and your power and might, I will receive.

Thank you, Jesus! I love you and it’s in your Holy Name I pray, Amen.

July 7, 2018

I am currently reading a book called, “They Found the Secret,” by V. Raymond Edman. I’ve only read the first story. I’ve actually read it three times because it is exactly the divine wisdom that I’ve been seeking. Funny, how the Lord knows just what to share with us.

This first testimony is about a missionary, J Hudson Taylor. He talks of his struggles to capture oneness and fullness with God. His words have propelled me right over the edge into this peaceful state that I long for:

“If any man thirst, let Him come unto me and drink. We are told to come to Him, not to some friend, not some experience, not so some feeling or frame of mind. We are not even to come just to the Word of God: rather, we are to go through that Word to the person of the Lord Jesus Himself.”

July 7, 2018/Journal Entry

I wake with opposition this morning and I believe the reason being is that I experienced a spiritual victory last night at a family gathering. I have written about my social anxiety in these moments, and I have to say that I didn’t feel one ounce of discomfort during this special occasion. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday. I felt confident in my conversation, engaged in what was being discussed and was completely part of this group. I was invested in what was going on around me and I wasn’t looking for a quick escape into solitude. I had a great time, praise God!

Lord, there is nothing that I can do to remove this state of unrest! No amount of human “fixing” will bring about peace. Maybe for a second but it won’t be long-lasting. I cannot control the words, thoughts, or actions of another. None of it pertains to me directly! What matters is my relationship with You.

I release these burdens to You because You are the only one that can fix them. You will give me peace and rest. And for this, I thank you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

And, this is how I will walk, consistently in God’s gift of peace. Realizing that I cannot achieve peace by myself. My peace is giving my burdens to God and letting Him decide what comes next. I cannot fix or control anything. I’m helpless without God. I cannot do anything apart from Him.

The interpretation of John 14:27 is this:

The end result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is deep and lasting peace. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is the confident assurance in any circumstance; with Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future. Sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and numerous other forces are at war within us. The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain these hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict. Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace.

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