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Finding peace through God’s word and the Holy Spirit

I found a wonderful meditation from “The Dance of Life,” by Henri Nouwen, that answers the question of how do we live in the midst of all this chaos:

“When we keep the Bible and our spiritual books in one hand and the newspaper in the other, we will always discover new questions, but we also will discover a way to live them faithfully, trusting that gradually the answer will be revealed to us.”

We wonder what God is trying to tell us. What do we do about the unrest, the pandemic worries, the draining of incomes?

We are living in days that are completely non-scripted for those who don’t believe in Christ. Every day seems to have a new crisis with something more to pray about. And we wonder how will next year be. Where will we be five or ten years from now.

There are no direct answers to these questions, of course. Mostly we are living step to the next step, with the trust that we have enough within us to take that next step.

Nouwen writes that sometimes we have to ‘step over’ our anger, our feelings of rejection, and move on.

The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, “poking around in them as if we belong there.” Then we become the offended one, the forgotten one, or the discarded one.

It might be good, He says, to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind, and travel on.

When we take Nouwen’s advice and daily contemplate the gospel and have attentive prayer time, we open the holy space of our day. “We can lift our heads above the horizon of our own limited existence.”

In Deuteronomy 8:2-16, Moses reports another time when God allowed followers to experience many trials and difficulties in the wilderness. He did this to do them good, to humble them and test them and to help them learn to rely on Him and trust Him.

The trials of our life are the wilderness that God uses to teach us to have faith in Him and to trust His promises.

And, our faith is tested often, we could even say, daily. God promises that if we depend on Him, our testing will not destroy us. In fact, it will only serve to make us strong and increase our faith.

It’s usually easy to take God’s protection for granted. We seldom take notice when the car runs without issues, when we climb stairs without falling, or our stove heats up to cook our food.

The people in Deuteronomy didn’t notice that in forty years of wandering in the desert, their clothes didn’t wear out, or their feet didn’t swell from all the foot travel.

It’s in the quiet blessings that we forget to thank God. God is the one who gives us what we have, but so often we don’t recognize Him when we focus all our time on anything and everything but Him. We crowd Him out.

And, when we move God out of our thoughts and actions, we get into the same boat as those Israelites.

We may not have a visible golden calf in our sight, but we have other idols such as the TV, computers, cell phones and busyness that steals our time.

When we feel lost, maybe it’s because we’re looking everywhere but to God for our help and guidance.

The most truthful and complete help available to us is not visible. He is God the Holy Spirit, who is sent to us by Jesus Christ to live within us on this earth. When we confess our sins and realize Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit immediately is given to us. Individually and completely. And once He is with us, He never leaves us.

The Holy Spirit gives us the insight to read the Bible’s truths on one hand, and to handle the newspapers in the other. The chaos can be sorted through, and we can step over some of it and move on.

We give thanks for the love of God the Father, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bonnie Donnelly is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.

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