Inviting Peace into Summer’s Wilderness

There is a peace that comes after vacation, after three continents, after plane, train, boat, and car. After seeing all we can see of the world, so big, and us so small. There is a peace that I control very little. It’s a relief, I tell you.

I do not control my children. I can try, but I don’t. I do not control my husband. I can try, but we all know how that ends! I do not control delayed flights, gate changes, long lines, or traffic from Hades. I have no influence over city-wide parties almost locking us out of a parking garage for 24 hours! Little ‘ole me does not bear weight upon the arrival of my own President’s arrival changing our travel plans. I absolutely cannot make the day longer or shorter, change the outcome to suit me, or miraculously make our rolly luggage appear on the other side of a Venice bridge with a million steps.

What I can do is invite peace. The kind acknowledging limits and the freedom of focusing on what I can do. Peace comes in being honest: this is what I hoped for,  but this is what happened. Peace is rooted in reality and has faith in provision. So what happened made me feel this. Is that true? And I will choose to trust.

Where does my help come from? It does not come from myself. It comes from soaking my life in God’s ways.

One of our last days in Israel, we drove through the desert, which in Biblical times was the proverbial wilderness. In the wilderness, it’s a big dust bowl of mountain, sand, and dirt. Canyons of rock and sand shift with the wind and once a year onslaught of water. Deep dried up rivers shape the landscape, determine the placement of roads, towns, and industry.

There is a certain uncertainty there, a flexibility and acceptance of the unexpected. We drove into a po-dunk town named after Israel’s founder: Midreshet-Ben Gurion. Using trusty Google coordinates, we drove into a random neighborhood and tried to find our B&B. We parked in front of a house with a retro green door. Kids on rollerblades and hockey sticks raced past on the sidewalk. “This is not it,” we said. This cannot be it. We drove around for another half hour, trying to find a phone signal, and trying to figure out why no one was in a hurry. Adults and kids alike walked slowly by. Bikes everywhere in these run down dust covered homes. Like a bowl of sawdust had been dumped on a Floridian retirement village. That was the color.

We drove and finally got to the outskirts of town next to a run down warehouse and a chain link fence. As we sat there, the phone finally reached the British B&B owner. He informed us the green door had been it. He told us he was coaching those kids with hockey sticks in the desert. That we were there and we just hadn’t known it.

As he navigated us back to the green door, we realized all the buildings and coordinates couldn’t help us find this ramshackle home that was the spitting image of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The owners 10 year old daughter checked us into our bungalow with a coy pond (under construction) in the courtyard. We had entered a strange paradise owned by people who knew the uncertainty of life in the desert, which is indeed, the wilderness.

Sometimes summer feels like wilderness: no schedule, no control, no rhythm, no expectancy. Just when you get in a groove, something changes, you go on vacation, the air conditioning breaks, or you realize you have very little time to write any more.

So you invite the peace, the peace that is the canyon of colors a few yards away from the green door. The dawn of a welcoming college town that is in no hurry, because it knows God gives and He takes away. He provides a way for a beautiful peace to supplant the control we cling to like sand.

Just follow the green door.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s givingMatthew 6:30 MSG

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July 19, 2017