There will be wars and rumors of wars. The earth will shake and the waters tremble. The mountains will spew lava and the earth's crust will split apart. These are painful reminders of our sinfulness - of our absence of God's presence in our midst. The one thing we can count on in the midst of all the 'bad stuff' that seems to happen around us is that God is our safe place and our strength. He isn't just a place to hide, but he is a means to stand strong in the midst of what seems to otherwise shake our world. The more we study he faithfulness of God, the more we see he has always kept a watchful eye on those who call upon his name. We should never forget that 'bad stuff' will happen, but we don't have to be afraid of the 'bad stuff' around us. We are safe in his hands - his presence makes a way for us to feel secure and protected.
God is our safe place and our strength. He is always our help when we are in trouble. So we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and the mountains fall into the center of the sea, and even if its waters go wild with storm and the mountains shake with its action. Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be honored among the nations. I will be honored in the earth. (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)
Be quiet - a hard thing to do in the best of times, let alone when all is falling down around us! Yet, these are the instructions of God directly to his people. Would you argue with God? I do on occasion - if not in my words, my actions show that I am arguing with him. Am I the only one who has a hard time just being quiet when the world seems to be crumbling down around us? Yes, I am a believer and I trust God with all my heart, but it doesn't make it any easier to not be a little intimidated by some of the bad stuff I observe around me on occasion. It isn't that I don't want to be quiet and know he is in control, it is that the things around me are so loud it is hard to find the quiet in the midst of the 'loudness' around me!
We might want to quiet our weary minds first, because what usually keeps us from really resting in his place of peace is what is going on in our minds. Our minds have a way of making up stories - embellishing what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Our minds have a way of going from zero to sixty in under thirty seconds - magnifying the issues, allowing doubts to creep in, and keeping us from really settling into the peace God has prepared for us even in the midst of the 'bad stuff'. If you haven't figured this out yet, when your mind is not at rest, the rest of your body will find it hard to rest. If your mind is not at rest, you spirit is troubled and a troubled spirit isn't a good thing!
In some circles, there is this concept of 'mindfulness' taught. I am not going to give you any mumble-jumble about 'centering your thoughts' or 'meditating until you are at peace'. I am going to remind us of the goodness of God, though. He is the center of all that happens - even when we don't see him in the midst of the muddle of mess we are in, he IS there. Mindfulness is really learning to center your thoughts on the right thing - nothing mystical here - just reminding us that God should always inhabit our thoughts. Maybe this is why scripture is chocked full of those reminders to put him first, think upon good and honorable things, and lift him up in worship. These things actually help us center our thoughts!
The most tragic thing I have observed in my own life is living outside of God's peace because I get so wrapped up in the tragedy of life around me. God's peace isn't elusive - we push it out or allow it to be pushed out. We get our thoughts centered on what we see, hear, and perceive with our limited understanding. We push out God's peace and embrace the world's fear. The more we push out fear and allow God's peace to be back in the center of our thoughts, the more we will live above the things that rattle, roll, and roar around us. Just sayin!