Friday, July 3, 2009

Peace is not a Place

The hampers are empty, a suitcase in each room is nearly full, and "little smidges" of past meals remain in the fridge ... what does this mean? We are poised on the brink of a family vacation. Yaaaaay! Tomorrow we leave for what we're dreaming will be a perfect blend of serenity, adventure, fun, discovery, and refreshment? High expectations, huh? Can it be all we hope for?

I really began to write "Joy Ride" for the June issue of the Proverbs 31 magazine over 12 months ago, when we embarked on our last "everything we hoped for" family vacation. It doesn't take long to unpack reality, and someone asks, "Who brought the bad attitudes? The accidents? The dog?" Well, this year we aren't taking the dog (and I'll worry about him the whole time), and we're going knowing that PEACE IS NOT A PLACE.

Last year we returned to a house on the bay side of St. George, Florida, on the Gulf. It's not fancy, but it has a great view of the water, wide windows, and is surrounded by beach flowers in June. We crammed in beach gear, snacks, books, happiness, and put miles between us and home, even pressing on after a nasty fast food encounter in a place not exactly your long-awaited vacation destination. After hours in the car, we arrived as afternoon cooled the day; I unloaded a feast of hot dogs and munchies, while Jeff and the kids romped out to revisit the familiar dock and water's edge. The kitchen was filled with a breeze, and I felt the joy of sighing big sighs out loud and smiling.

Just as I was plating the food, cries came from outside as my crew limped in with panicked faces, gripping Jacob's bleeding calf. In our first 30 minutes ... a slip and a slice across razor sharp oyster shells dashed our hopes and sent us into crisis management mode. Grabbing a phone book, we dashed out the door with food in hand to navigate our way to the fire station, stopping divinely delayed EMT's long enough to control bleeding and get directions. We made our way back to Appalachicola on the mainland, to a tiny, excellent hospital ER; my ocean loving boy received a long row of excruciating stitches and orders to stay out of the water for 3 days. No beach. No sand. No water.

There were tears. There was anger. There was prayer. There was disappointment. In my heart I asked, "This is the perfect place, Lord. This is the perfect time, and we so need it. Don't you know this is what we needed? What we wanted? Why did you let this happen, when we need this place so much?" God spoke to me in His still small voice.

He said, "Peace is not a place, Julie. Peace is resting in Me, wherever and in whatever circumstances you go."
Have I not heard this from my Heavenly Father before? I have, but somehow I had given "vacation" a holy exclusion. I wanted heaven on earth. He gave me heavenly peace while on earth.

The week looked different than planned and expected, but it was sweet in other ways. We all learned and enjoyed peace that passed understanding. Do you have a "place" where you're pinning your hopes for peace? Or a time? Peace is not a place, friend. I am reminded of that over and over.

We are headed to a place so quiet, so undisturbed (we think, we hope ...) that we'll be able to listen to Him, to let Him restore us without distraction, to realign our focus. In Mark 6, even Jesus drew away to a quiet place, so that He could enjoy peace from His Father. As we leave for vacation, I wonder what awaits, but I have no expectations that peace awaits us there. (This vacation, I'll ask where the ER is as soon as we arrive!) Wherever we go, whatever we face, the Person of Jesus is able to give us the Peace we so long for. He is the truly "mobile network." I'm so glad, and I'm sure this vacation will be something to blog about! :)

1 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Courtney said...

Amen!!! I remember our first trip to the beach with two tiny ones - oh my goodness - it was SOOO much work and I was so disappointed that it was not a vacation for ME! It was a hard lesson to learn the sacrifice that goes along with being a mom - no more sitting by the pool and reading a book!!! But they are so worth it and those days will be back again soon enough!