Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pausing for Peace

As I consider, each week, how to find a peaceful, quiet heart during Advent, I think of the candle. It's a simple, constant presence at Christmas time.
How do people try to calm their spirits? I know how most of my friends do:  "Oh, if I could only soak in a huge, deep tub, with lavender oils and a Victoria magazine to read. A candle making the room fragrant, and soft music in the air. No one to bother me, nothing to do right now. I'd fall asleep in that tub, and all my cares would  slip away. If only!"

Yeah, right.

The reality is, you get in the tub, the water's not the right temperature, you forgot to light the candle, your kid(s) are hollering for you ... or ... even if you get all the physical elements right, it's honestly your own brain that keeps you from relaxing. You get into the perfect tub, and your mind starts to berate you with all the things you ought to be doing.

Why do we seek peace in such temporal things? Peace of the spirit is a spiritual state, not a physical one. Some calm themselves by hiking to mountain tops, or by smoking, or by drinking, or by exercise, or by therapy.

There is only one balm for the spirit. It reminds me of Naaman, in the Old Testament, who wanted a cure. The cure he was given was not what he expected. "Go bathe myself in that dirty old river? You've got to be kidding!"  He wanted a more impressive healing.

And we say, "Read my Bible every day? You've got to be kidding!"  Pray? Pray again? Rest our hearts in Jesus? Yes, that's the way. I can't tell you what a difference it's made in my life to simply read the Bible each morning. It is a slow dripping of a healing, but it is so effective.  Reading through my Bible is a reminder to me that God is the author of a very long, very large story. He has it in hand; I don't have to worry whether He can write my life story well; He's a much bigger author than that.
A candle. My favorite is "Mulled Cider" from Walmart. This one is almost gone. The glass is black and ugly. I fiddle with the wax to make it burn as long as possible. It burns itself away, filling the house with a warm, happy fragrance. During Advent, we tend to think we can attain peace by saying "No!" to requests for our time, by focusing inward and simplifying. There's some truth in that. But you can sit at home in your fuzzy slippers for all of December and still not feel peaceful or happy. Be like the candle -- give yourself away. Fill the room of your life with a fragrance that uplifts everyone who comes in your sphere. And when you have quiet time? Don't forget to spend it with God.

(This post is the second in a series on Advent, with Floss's "A Pause in Advent" posts.)

9 comments:

  1. When people fill their lives with busyness and noise, how can they be at peace? I can't hear His whisper when the radio and t.v. are blaring.

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  2. How lovely! I really like this post! Yes, it is so true! We think, "Ack, how can I possibly fit in reading the Bible every day?" but that is so important! Thanks for reminding me of that!x

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  3. It's the day-by-day soaking up His word that makes us strong. Candlelight reminds me of His Light in a dark world.
    ~Jody

    P.S. Love the cookie banner. You've been busy!

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  4. Thanks for this. It's calming in itself. :)

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  5. You ladies are very sweet to come by here and read my post. Jody, thanks -- Julia made those cookies for Christmas :)

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  6. Thank you for this reminder of peace, and thanks also for your comment on my post. I found for years that I couldn't still my mind to pray 'in my head' but that taking the time to write down my prayers allowed me to really focus on both speaking and listening to God. More recently I've found that God has given me the ability to focus in the same way on prayer when I'm walking or even driving (on quiet roads, and, obviously, with my eyes open!) I find that if I don't pray at the beginning of a car journey, my mind tosses and turns over all the things of the day that are worrying me. But if I state them to God, praise him, and give him my concerns, then I'm able to focus properly and not spend the whole of the drive worrying.

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  7. Oh, I love the gentle reminder here: give your life away.

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  8. You are so right, as always. I fret around the house, only to find infinite riches if I would just sit down and open the Book. The thing about the bath is also that you might have to clean it first...

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  9. OH, SO SO true, Mags!! haha -- I always have to clean it first, and man, does that take some of the leisurely feeling out of it, right from the get-go!!

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