Preface: I wrote this in the fall, and it never made it to publication. My hope is that the timing of this blesses one of you today.
This feels hard. Our world feels like its just seconds from cracking and falling apart. Like maybe it will just fall into pieces and spin off into the blackness of space.
It feels like everywhere we turn we are confronted with grief and chaos. Too big for our arms too heavy for our hearts. I feel the weight. I feel it so deeply in my bones it threatens to take over me and I can’t function.
Are you here with me too?
This week I’ve been trying to fight back. Fighting back against the darkness and the despair. I was reminded by another blogger I follow, Being Salt, about the importance of praise to lighten a load. So I praised, then I intentionally met with friends, and I intentionally turned off my phone.
My soul has been hungry for truth and I crave the word of God in a fresh way. And it sticks. It is alive and breathing and comforting me.
Philippians 4:7 says, Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything.
Death and destruction --> pray
Sickness beyond belief --> pray about that too
Stress of my jobs and holding souls in my hands --> take them to the Lord
As I met with a wonderful friend and mentor of mine, she reminded me that the relationships we have with one another as humans are beautiful. We have friends to share our burdens with. We can grieve together and celebrate together and enjoy life together, but even with all of that we truly can’t alter the course of history. We don’t have the power to change the path of human history, only God does. If we attribute our experience in human friendship to the character of God, we are doing ourselves a disservice in making God too small. God encompasses all that the best human friendship could ever strive to be, but he is so much greater. When we talk to a friend, the load feels lighter as we aren’t carrying it alone. When we talk to God our load becomes lighter because he is the one who can actually DO something about our struggles, burdens, and cares.
Do not worry about ANYTHING. Instead, pray about EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done.
These are the instructions in Philippians on how to receive the peace of Christ.
This is the peace that passes all understanding.
As I’ve been working through this week with God, wondering how to hold the joy and sorrow at the same time, he gave me the following image.
A garden, carefully and tenderly cultivated. Where the plants bear fruit and the flowers smell sweet. But this garden isn’t out in the open, it’s carefully tucked away behind large stone walls. On the other side of the walls lay a wasteland. Battered and burned by the harsh elements and violence of the world.
In this image he reminded me to cultivate the garden of my heart. To keep my walls up, not to hide behind and ignore the rest of the world, but to cultivate beauty to bless the rest of the world. In this sacred space where the flowers bloom and fruit tastes sweet souls can be refreshed. I can meet with people there, allowing the flowers to be passed out to others and fruit to be shared among friends. How does this happen? By being careful about what I set my mind on. If I focus too much on the wasteland I won’t tend to the needs of the garden and won’t have anything to share. If I focus on creating and tending beauty and compassion in my heart, I will overflow with the goodness of the Lord.
He will be my refuge, he is my strong tower, he is the one who puts the walls up to protect this garden. Not to hide away, but to cultivate beauty in the midst of chaos.
In the world but set apart from the world.
Worship in spite of mourning. Praise Him for all he has done and all he will do. The story isn’t over yet.
Grace and Peace to you on your journey today.
P.S. I recently looked up the definition of my name. Merriam- Webster says this bailey: a courtyard within the external wall of a castle. I was made to tend this garden, and so were you.