12 Lord, great blessings belong to those you discipline, to those you teach from your law. 13 You help them stay calm when trouble comes. You will help them until the wicked are put in their graves. 14 The Lord will not leave his people. He will not leave them without help. 15 Justice will return and bring fairness. And those who want to do right will be there to see it. (Psalm 94:12-15 ERV)
Willa Cather reminds us, "There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm." God's care for those he loves outweighs any storm we endure, my friend. Troubles come, but God is the calming effect in the midst of even the stormiest of turmoil around us. We have a great deal of stress in our lives, but did you ever take inventory of some of that stress only to find it was "self-caused"? Some of the greatest stress we face is that which we bring upon ourselves! In those moments when I have realized it is "me" causing all that trouble and chaos in my life, I find great delight in God helping me to see just how to get out of whatever corner I am presently painting myself into!
When we are calmed by the hand of God, even when it means we have to sit still long enough to learn from whatever is occurring, we find ourselves settling into the rhythm of his movement and become less focused on the "rough motion" of the issues all around us. It is as though we turn "inward" for just a moment or two to get hold of the sense of his heartbeat deep within us and then we begin to move to that rhythm. Discipline isn't always a "spanking" - sometimes it is just a gentle reminder we haven't heard that rhythmic movement of his living and breathing deep within us for a while.
Two things for us to consider this morning:
1. The "calmness" we experience in the midst of the storm is in direct proportion to the focus we maintain on God throughout that storm. We cannot always avoid all storms, even those "self-caused", but in the midst of them, we can stop, look up, re-engage our senses and begin to experience a calm where only roughness, agitation, or harshness seems to abound. We may not be able to avoid the agitation, but we don't have to become agitated by it. In the center of a whirlpool, there is calm!
2. The discipline we receive isn't going to settle the storm, but it can settle us! We may not realize we have become so caught up in the storms around or within us until we begin to receive his corrective word within. As it begins to penetrate our hearts, we begin to realize the affect the storm has been having within us. In those times of peaceful repose, we begin to listen intently to God's direction "out of" the storm.
It may never occur to us to ask for God's discipline - but what we are really seeking is his teaching - direction, refocus, and control. Just sayin!