Peace Be Still
by Stacey Stone
Quiet room, fire crackling, great book, my husband and two little dogs; that is my definition of home. Right now those six wonderful ingredients are taking place in the desert of Arizona. A precious little adobe is home to my husband, those two little dogs, and myself with cactus all around and no mosquitos to be found! Oh, and rattlesnakes. I prayed for this home when we were moving. I actually begged God for a home with a view after many years of living in an urban environment with the railroad tracks and graffitti as scenery. We rented the house sight unseen because of necessity and the first time we walked into this home, my husband and I walked to the back wall of windows. It took our breath away. My husband joked, “Well, I think you got your view!” When God chooses to answer your prayer and bless your request, sometimes He does so with the mightiness of mountains.
But I soon lost the majesty of those mountains to the fear of what was on the ground. The afore mentioned rattlesnakes and their cohorts make the desert treacherous. We were warned from the start that everything contained in this region was put there to stab, prick, sting, bite or kill us. The first walk we took, our oldest dog Mally reinforced those warnings when she was introduced to a menace called the “Jumping Cholla.” She pulled up lame, so we stopped and she had this rather large piece of cactus sticking out of her paw. It was traumatic to pull the barbs out (which were all inserted in different directions) and she was having none of it through barred teeth. I remember looking at my husband through tears and lamenting to God, “This is supposed to be better?” During each walk from that point forward I made it a point to stare at the ground during our hikes, protecting her from anything that might come our way.
When you make that decision to stare down you can see all of the danger that is lurking there. Cactus is only one peril to be found by looking at the ground in Southern Arizona. Snakes, tarantulas, holes for all of them, rocks, ravines; the list can go on and on. With my eyes tied to the ground, concern grew day-by-day about how am I going to protect what I love from everything I see here. Until one day I realized what I was doing. I stopped and looked up.
Looking up meant that I could breathe in the fresh air that the God I serve had provided. My chest unfolded and the tightness of my anxiety began to slip away. The view stretched out as far as my eye could see with the mountains spanning out in front of me. God’s mountains that I was missing every time worry took my eyes to the ground. It brought to heart the story of Elisha’s servant who could only see the “cactus” of enemies on the ground.
“Then Elisha prayed and said ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17, English Standard Version).
Lord, open my eyes and lift my head so that I can see how you are protecting us with each step. If my mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, I would have missed them, too. But He lifted my head, tamped down my worry with His words and reminded me that yes, my home and its surroundings are dangerous, but He is the God of deliverance from danger; even if it is just a piece of cactus in a little dog’s foot.
You may not be facing cactus or rattlesnakes, but what you have to ask yourself is what is keeping your eyes to the ground? Is it the middle of the night when worry comes pressing on your chest? What do you forget about your safety in God that keeps you staring into the dirt? “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, English Standard Version). Everything listed here does not come to an end in the dark when you wake up and can’t breathe from what your mind is telling you. Love, mercies, faithfulness are all promised as never ending, so how do you keep this verse close when you are lamenting the wrong things and staring into what you think will keep you safe. If you have been in a church, you have heard the answer to this conundrum:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
For years my husband Johnny and I have spoken on the radio about how, in the darkest places, the station can be there to play the right song at the right time. We also firmly believe that what goes into your mind is what comes back to you when there is nothing else to distract you. In the darkest of times, He will pull front and center the worship you have heard and the Words you have read that can help you get through this moment. Even if it is just a song you have heard on the radio or in church.
Back to my moment of book, fireplace, two little dogs that is home where we are captured between the safety and security of resting in God’s arms and the things the world will require very soon. I realize I must move but can’t because the dogs have trapped my legs under the blanket and are not planning to vacate any time soon. God promises in Isaiah 32:18 that we will have “a peaceful habitation. And in secure dwelling and in undisturbed resting places;” but I’m not sure He was promising my dogs this comfort. My thoughts wander to why I am willing to protect their rest by not moving yet sacrifice mine to fear and worry and strife. Perhaps God is wondering the same thing as He holds His legs perfectly still to allow us to remain quietly resting in His presence. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a, New Living Translation).
Stacey Stone speaks into the lives of those that listen to Family Life Radio network every afternoon with her husband Johnny Stone. She recently published The Rescued Breed: When Jesus Shows Up and Transforms Your Pack and you can find out more at www.therescuedbreed.com.
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