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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Got a little turmoil going on?

Ever been in a place some might call a real "brouhaha"?  You know what I mean - the place in your life where everywhere you turn, it is like total conflict.  It could be conflict all created by your own mind and soulish desires, or it could be external to you, but affecting your life nonetheless.  It is that place where someone or something is lying in wait for that moment when the attack will be just right to take you down.  It is as though things are on a slow boil up to a point, then all of a sudden the boil begins to roll and steams begins to build.  At that point, what do you do?  For most of us, it is too late to do much because when it finally builds to that point, it is harder and harder for us to find peace, get a clear picture of what is happening, or even call a retreat from it.  We are there for the duration - simply because we didn't know how to avoid the conflict in the first place!

I am pleading with the Eternal for this one thing, my soul’s desire:  To live with Him all of my days—in the shadow of His temple, to behold His beauty and ponder His ways in the company of His people.  His house is my shelter and secret retreat.  It is there I find peace in the midst of storm and turmoil.  Safety sits with me in the hiding place of God.  He will set me on a rock, high above the fray.  (Psalm 27:4-5 VOICE)

At the point of turmoil's first hint, where we turn with that turmoil makes all the difference in the outcome.  Turmoil takes on all manner of "appearances" in our lives.  Probably one of the most noticeable types of turmoil in our lives is that which we call "anxiety" - the internal type of turmoil which really is a matter of trust.  Anxiety is really caused because of some question of who or what we are going to trust in within that area of our life.  If we lean heavily upon our own "wisdom" and don't have much use for the wisdom God provides, we might find that turmoil builds until we reach levels of anxiety which are difficult for us to manage.  The problem is that WE created the turmoil - by placing our trust in something which is unreliable in our lives.  Until WE step out of the way, the peace we now lack cannot be re-established by God.  It is as things BEGIN to build within our minds and hearts which seem to be creating internal unrest that we must turn to the sanctuary of God's shelter and secret retreat - not after we have allowed all the angst to build to the point of breaking!  Our psalmist describes this as "living with" God in the shadow of his temple - not occasionally taking our messy lives to him to sort out.

For others, the greatest place of turmoil comes when there has been some type of "mix-up" in life.  It is like you "thought" things were going one way and then you come to discover they are going in the opposite direction.  You discover (often too late) that the road you have been traveling is not the one you expected.  Expectations cause us a great deal of turmoil in life - either because we didn't live up to them, or because someone else dashed our hopes by not living up to ours.  In those moments, the greatest thing we need to realize is that our expectations were the wrong focus for us to maintain.  It is okay to have expectations, but who or what we choose to focus on to meet those expectations is another matter.  If we are counting on ourselves to meet those expectations - all our desires and aspirations in life - we may come up a little short in the deal.  We are limited a great deal of the time by our talent, energy, or time.  In the end, we either burn out along the way, or we get to where we were going to find we are too "spent" to enjoy what we have achieved.  The best way to avoid the turmoil of the "mixed-up" expectations in life is to sit with the one who provides "safety" for us.  We need to constantly be turning to him to seek clarity and a "re-sorting" of our priorities so our expectations are realistic, not based on the performance of another, or even ourselves, but squarely on the boundaries he provides for our safety and protection.

Perhaps one of the most difficult types of turmoil for us to deal with is that of feeling a sense of rebellion - a place of resistance exists and we just don't know how to break free of that turmoil it causes. Simply put, rebellion occurs when there is a schism of sorts which takes place, allowing two parties who are "at odds" to exist in the same "space".  It is like oil on water - the two exist together, but they are totally "unmixed" and remain "at odds" with each other despite being in the same "space".  Within our minds, rebellion wreaks havoc.  We are at odds with none other than ourselves - our spirit tells us to do one thing, but our emotions are pulling us a dozen different directions - leaving us "at odds" with ourselves.  In turn, we give in to the "voice" which is making the most "noise" in us at that moment.  This "noise" is often created by the very thing we don't want to be pursuing because we "know" it is clearly not the right thing to do, but we "feel" the opposite about it.  Until we learn to shut out some of those voices which scream the loudest within us, we won't rise above the rebellion brewing within.  When we want to overcome rebellion, we don't argue with it, we withdraw from it - we get away from the voices!  It isn't a sign of weakness to say we are weak!  It is a sign of strength to recognize when the voices are too loud for us to resist!

It may seem a little too over-simplified to say this, but the greatest way to avoid turmoil in our lives is to run to the place where turmoil doesn't exist!  David went regularly (with consistency and purpose) the place of where "safety sat with him", bringing order and peace into the midst of his turmoil.  Safety isn't a "thing", but a person!  As long as we give into the people, circumstances, and voices of turmoil in our lives, we are not going to understand the benefits of running to the person who provides safety for us when turmoil abounds.  God can set at rest the things which are spinning out of control, and he can settle the screaming voices of compromise, but we need to be in the place to allow him to do this.  Here is the key to overcoming - we go regularly, with consistency, and with determined purpose into the presence of the one who can set right what is totally wrong within or without our lives.  Just sayin!