I made a big mistake this week. In fact, I’ve reminded you repeatedly not to do it…and still did it. And I know better.
Mark and I had a wonderful three-day camping adventure at Fall Creek Falls State Park last weekend. The weather was beautiful. We took our dogs with us for the first time, which was fun for them AND us. We hiked and relaxed. We grilled yummy food and woke each morning to very noisy birds chirping in the trees above our camper. One of the most wonderful things about camping life is that it’s easy to forget the heaviness of the world when you are surrounded by nature and “happy campers”. We drove home relaxed and rejuvenated; planning our next adventure to come soon.
I had a few scheduled speaking events this week, so I told Mark on the drive home that I wanted to go to the nail salon once we got home because I had torn my nails to pieces during our adventures. (Yes, I know…vanity…but I like pretty nails). Once we got the truck unloaded, I headed off for an hour or so of pampering.
Other than to watch Tennessee baseball on the ESPN app, we had not really had the television on for a few days. Another appealing part of camping…watching television is not a high priority. However, when I arrived at the nail salon, I was just in time for the afternoon local and then world news. The salon has three televisions, all positioned where you can get a good view from any seat, so ignoring it was almost impossible. Within a matter of minutes, there were stories of tragedy, of anger, of death, of heartache and of catastrophes around the world. My relaxed, peaceful demeanor changed to anxious, concerned and just plain sad. I left with pretty nails, but a very heavy heart.
You’ve likely heard me say, control your input. As humans we only have the capacity to hold so much tragedy before it destroys our mental health, and depending on our personality types, some do better than others. Please do not misunderstand, I do not believe we are to stick our heads in the sand and pretend there is not hurt in the world. However, I do know that for me, I can only handle so much at one time. And unfortunately, an hour of local and world news is too much.
That was Monday, this is Thursday, and I am still having trouble overcoming what all of those stories did to me. When it feels like things can’t become any more hostile, the voices continue to grow louder, angrier, and more concerning to me. There are so many opinions and so much hurt. As a Christ follower, I want to be certain that any response or input I provide comes from a place of love and compassion. I want to be careful how I enter in to the conversations. I want to be a difference maker, but on His terms... not mine.
As I put my head on the pillow last night and tears rolled down my cheeks over the hurt, I asked God to calm me. I asked for the peace that we are promised from the Prince of Peace. I asked for the noise to settle around me and for His voice to be the one I hear. And as I prayed, two scripture passages came to my mind.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
There are a lot of voices competing for our attention in the world. Some of those are negative voices, some are positive voices, but only one is “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) And He won’t get louder to be heard. His voice will be heard in the still, small places when we seek Him. It may be a gentle whisper, but we can be sure that the closer we are to Him, the easier His voice is to recognize.
This world feels incredibly tumultuous and out of control, but God is not panicked. He is not worried. And He never sleeps nor slumbers…so He isn’t numb to it either. He is always working and when we place our trust in Him alone…we can be sure all will one day be made right again.
I don’t know what is grieving your heart today, but I can almost be sure that there is something. We are living between two gardens and there is a lot to make this life difficult. I pray that you too will seek the gentle whisper and that the Prince of Peace can still your fears and restore your faith.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org