Peace Like a River: Finding the Rest of My Faith

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A year and a half ago (during Summer of 7), we went tubing in the NC mountains with some friends.  While the dads and older kids went up to the top with their tubes, the moms and younger kids started at the midway point of the river, just floating down through the calmest waters toward the take out point.

Anika was ALMOST 3 at the time of this trip and quite a bit more hesitant than she is now. With some clumsiness, I climbed into the tube, secured her on my lap, and started down.

There were no rapids in the low portion, just little eddies and ripples where the rocks broke the smooth flow of the water.  I was trying to use my feet to kick off logs and rocks that misdirected us, but she was CLUTCHING and GRASPING and SQUIRMING so terribly that I could hardly maneuver us.

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In spite of the beautiful, sunny summer day, dappled light glowing on  the water, trickles of crystalline water splashing by, Anika was in an UTTER PANIC.  In the midst of a peaceful, glorious journey, where she  might have relaxed and appreciated my ability and willingness to control our path, she was in TERROR.

She didn’t trust me enough to rest.

Her worry prevented her from seeing any of the beauty around us.

She was NOT OKAY with tubing in spite of the fact that she was entirely safe in my arms.

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Most of us have heard the song “It is Well With My Soul” which begins with the line When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

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I’ve thought about that phrase a lot during the days since we began the Finding the Rest of my Faith study. As we talked, we kind of all accepted that we occasionally experience sorrows- like- sea- billows- roll restless, tumultuous times.  Sometimes we are in battle. Sometimes we are in transition. Sometimes we are in danger.  Scripturally, those are the times when God says “Fear not, for I am with you” because HE KNOWS we are human and likely to freak.

He KNOWS we will feel afraid without Him in the rapids.

But here’s the kicker.  A lot of the time, EVEN WHEN it’s NOT a rapid, when peace- like- a- river- that- attendeth- our- way, when we are safe, when it is just a normal journey, we STILL worry.

Where are we going?  When are we getting there?  Are you gonna drop me?  Are you gonna let me fall? Is this the best path? Maybe we should have stayed on the shore? When do we get out?

Our soul is NOT well because we simply CHOSE NOT TO REST.  In our control-freakishness, we are not trusting our Father. We overlook the peace of the river, clutching, grasping, and overreacting to the mildest twist and turn.

What could be fun and beautiful becomes agonizing and terrible.

So it comes down to TRUST again. Do we TRUST him? 

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Thursday night was the final meeting of Finding the Rest of My Faith, where we kind of summed up what we’d learned so far. I’m going to be sharing some of what we discovered over the next few posts.

The point of today’s post is :TRUST ENABLES REST. And TIME ENABLES TRUST.

Instead of having an authentic transparent relationship with God, where we put in the time to ask questions, express fears, and present our doubts to God, we just passively opt for a distance that breeds distrust and restlessness.

DSCN2116It’s like we are saying, “I want rest, but I don’t want to rest IN YOU.”

And here is where we are going to have to DIVE DOWN a bit. Here is where we have to stop pretending that Christianity isn’t just a bit weird.

Okay a LOT weird.

Every now and then, the whole mystical, spiritual fact that Jesus-is-not-a-REAL-present-person becomes troublesome.  Even though I’ve been a Christian a LONG time, the strangeness of it all resurfaces.

Do we really believe that Jesus, the word made flesh, ACTUALLY exists TODAY, in the words of Scripture? In the paper on ink? In the timeless, alive, active, words? Do we believe the words ARE alive and REAL? Do we believe that interacting with these words is more than a reading exercise?

Or not?

Some days I forget that I do believe The. Words. Are. A. Real. Person.  (Because even typing that kind of sentence is SUPER WEIRD.)

Some days my life is very tangible, with piles, and boogers, and keyboards, and laundry.  The spiritual reality that ancient words, which are alive, can change and comfort me is TOO WEIRD. It’s like saying I believe in time travel, or aliens, or Hogwarts. (Okay, so I do believe in at least two of those things.)

But then I stop. And I remember that I do believe that to ABIDE IN, REST IN, and TRUST IN Jesus is to abide, rest, and trust in the WORD that He said was Him. (Read again.)

Reading it, memorizing it, washing our brains in it, brainwashing our lives with it, digging in and uncovering it, and researching it, and praying it. Loving it. Fighting with it. Figuring it out. Questioning it. Immersing ourselves in Scripture.

As far as I can tell, that’s the way to find rest.

IN. THE. WORD.

For me, this means that I need to continue disciplining myself to WRESTLE with the word, admitting the parts that infuriate me, submitting to the parts that convict me, learning to love it, figuring out how to ABIDE there, learning to TRUST him, and resting in the peace that is found in his control.  I could easily blather on about the power of this weird reality as it is dawning on me now, but my word count begs me to stop. So here are a FEW more Scriptures that reiterate it.

DSCN2169Isaiah 48:18  If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.

Psalm 36:7-9 

 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

 They feast on the abundance of your house;

you give them drink from your river of delights

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

4 Responses to Peace Like a River: Finding the Rest of My Faith

  1. Johanna Fenton March 1, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Katrina, one of my favorite quotes comes from Oswald Chambers:

    “The one thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real.”

    Also, here’s a song for you from a Minnesotan folk singer. Perfectly pairs with your blog post, in my opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5a6zK6Sn4o

    • Katrina Ryder March 2, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Ooo, very pretty. I wish there was an easy way to just impose a soundtrack on every post. :) (There probably is and I just don’t know it.)

  2. Mandy March 2, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    Katrina, I have really been enjoying this series–thank you for your well thought out illustrations and deep thoughts. Rest is a topic that is not covered much (I think) and it is so necessary to keep abiding with Jesus. thanks very much!

    • Katrina Ryder March 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Thanks for reading it! I think we overlook the importance of rest because our lives are SO busy. But looking back, after creation, the spiritual discipline of rest was the FIRST one. :)