Thursday, July 30, 2015

Facing Disappointment in The Quiet Place

Disappointment touches all of our lives. We grieve the loss of someone or some dream that has been shattered. Our expectations perhaps became imbalanced by reality, and we unwittingly set ourselves up for disappointment. 

At times such as these, we absolutely must find a quiet place to refresh and renew our spirit, and get grounded ... refocus. We need a pause in time to deal with the disappointment that has so enveloped our lives. 

Everyone needs a Quiet Place

Daily life tensions, and the demands of life, along with the unknowns of the future, create an unending tug of anxiety, and we can often feel a growing sense of unrest within. Life is full of pathways that lead to hardship, suffering and disappointment. 

All too often we seek to find short term counterfeit pleasure from happy circumstances. Many times we know very little of the true infusion of spiritual joy within, in spite of  tough times and adverse circumstances. We all long to find inner peace.

Sometimes we lose our way, or stand at a crossroad, unsure of which way to turn. Every day our minds are filled with distractions and pressures that trouble us. In reality they are just that...distractions. The world promises the key to happiness, but that key comes with a price, and the happiness promised is short term and empty of true meaning. We get ourselves set up to be disappointed time and time again.

Happiness depends on happy circumstances. There is a pattern that repeats itself in our lives. If your happenings don't happen to happen like you hope they happen, how can you be happy? Deep inside, most of us long for an inner peace that transcends tough circumstances; a peace that will see us through stressful times of duress, and chaotic periods of time pressure and seasons of disappointment.  

Finding your Quiet Place

I like to walk in the forest when the dew is fresh, when the world seems to be at a moment of hush. Times of chosen solitude centers us to be alone and just enjoy God's creation... translating those moments of incredible solitude and peace into a quiet place with God.

The Quiet Place is a kind of spiritual counterpart to a walk in the forest. No matter where you are, or what you might be doing, my hope is that you can pause here and find encouragement, inspiration and hope.

The Quiet Place does have a biblical foundation.  In a post Edenic world,  Jesus Christ has provided for each of us direct access to the presence of God. It is only through Him that we can truly know God and enjoy communion with Him. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6.

The disappointments and burdens of life are many, and they impact each of us differently, but in reality they are very similar. Wherever we may live on this planet, we share in common the reality that life is hard, struggles are painful, and we need an inner strength to rise from our beds each and every day and face the challenges that are before us.  God calls us wherever we are, and in whatever circumstance we are in to cultivate an intimate quiet time with Him.

The Quiet Place is to put Life on Pause 

We need to hit the pause button in life to stop the crazy spinning of everything that distracts us from stillness with God. He longs for us to joy in knowing Him, and drawing near to His heart.

"Be Still and Know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 

The Quiet Place has been created as an opportunity to seize a moment in time where we can stop the chaos and stress of  life, and reflect upon what is truly needed in each of our lives. We all need a time to meet with God to gain insight, needed perspective, and inner strength. We each long for God whether we realize it or not. That quiet desperation that resides within, creates a restlessness that is never satisfied until we find our way to meet with God.

The disciples knew what it was like to be exhausted, hungry, and overwhelmed with stress, fatigue, and the the demands of life.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a Quiet Place, and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32

God Speaks in the Stillness of Special Moments

There are many examples in the Bible where God's gentlest whispers were only heard in quiet places.  Elijah along the brook Cherith, David in the cave at Adullam, Moses in the wilderness of Midian, and Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. They all met with God when alone and in The Quiet Place.

The burdens of life, when carried in our own strength, weakens our bodies, torments our minds, and deadens our spirit.  We often rush to the urgent tasks of our day, and miss the most important priority, which is a time of quiet worship with God. When we take the time to worship at His feet, and fellowship with Him, the result will be that we will find peace and spiritual renewal in The Quiet Place

The race of life, when run in our own strength,  leads each of us to a place of eventual exhaustion, a sense of being overwhelmed by life, and eventual burnout.

May we each be refreshed daily by our Gentle Shepherd as we meet with Him in The Quiet Place

Psalm 23

"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside Quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff,  they comfort me.You prepare a table before me  in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Take a few moments to listen to this worshipful song  entitled Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli

Sunday, July 19, 2015

When the Diagnosis is Cancer

Recently I was diagnosed with cancer. Up until that moment, it was always the other person’s life experience and not my own. I have not been writing new material in The Quiet Place while I have sought treatment and undergone surgery. The thoughts shared here relate to what I have found to be meaningful and helpful when the diagnosis is cancer. 


The paralyzing grip of the phrase “You have cancer,” can render you powerless, and it can take away whatever reasonable control that you thought that you had in your life. Hearing such a statement will literally stop time, suck all of the oxygen out of the room, and leave you feeling stunned and transparently vulnerable.

You prefer the doctor to use another phrase, like, “You are fat, you need to slow down, or your blood pressure is too high.” The examination room falls into an uncomfortable silence, and you realize that he is waiting for you to absorb the full weight of what he has just said to you. 

The Uncertain Pathway of Change

He begins to speak and you see his mouth moving…forming words and giving you information, but it sounds like he is speaking underwater, and you think you understand what he is saying but only a few statements make it through the haze in your mind like, "...More tests.…oncologist…surgery…urgency…other options…” 

On a Personal Pilgrimage

When my doctor read the report to me and said, “It is in a very advanced stage right now. If we act immediately, we can attempt to get it all, or at least stop it from metastasizing throughout your body” it was surreal.
Life changed for me at that moment, and I realized that I was standing at a crossroad. The oncologist had not minced words. "Do this or the outcome will be terminal." I had decisions to make that would impact my family in immeasurable ways. I never thought that I would ever be diagnosed with cancer. 

The reality of unplanned Change

Cancer forces an uninitiated change into your life that you have no control over. Life becomes inescapably different now. An unspoken grieving begins to season your life, and time is now segmented into days and hours rather than months and years.

Holding on to the Essentials

Maintain your daily Walk with God

Time spent in The Quiet Place, seeking God and worshiping Him, will have established a solid Biblical foundation upon which to draw, as promises and truths become more real and precious. Prayer for healing can become the primary focus during this time, while He is desiring that we…draw near…find stillness, and the silent awareness of His presence and experience His comfort.

Family: The Shared Pilgrimage

It is hard to reach out during this time, as all of your energies are focused upon just surviving the treatments, and trying to get some measure of your health and stamina back. Unrelenting fatigue becomes your constant companion now, and it cloaks your steps like a shadow. However, it is important to not become self-absorbed, but rather do what you can to let them know how important they are to you. 

Remember that those closest to you are frightened, and may not tell you. A pervasive ever present grief can feel overwhelming as they go through your cancer treatments with you.

Monitor Negative Thinking

·  Understand that regrets about the past that you cannot change will become more pronounced. You will also drift to feelings of remorse regarding unattainable future dreams that you had for your life. There may also be an obsessive focus on the uncertain outcomes ahead, or your own death. It is important to process each of these, but always remember that while past memories are vivid and real, you cannot live in them, nor can your focus be upon that which is unknown regarding the future.

  Be Present in the Presence of God

Staying in the present takes discipline and focus. It is the only moment that is available to us. Begin to work on recovering, helping your body function in a healthy way, staying positive about recovery and be hopeful regarding possible remission. Your body will need critical resources to fight for your life that are difficult to access, due to the treatment and or heavy medications that you and taking. 

There are times when there are not any words that can express what you are going through in life. God does not need our words, as He can read our hearts. Worship God in those moments when you are all alone. He desires us to draw near to Him and just be real about our fears, our concerns, and our burdens. 

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

God desires us to kneel in His presence and just …Be…

“He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Ex. 33:14

God wants each of us to discover that precious place in prayer where there is nowhere else we would rather be than being present in His presence.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9

The word abide is a verb requiring action on our part.

“A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, tarry.” Strong’s Concordance

When the diagnosis is cancer, God invites us to Be present in His love. Whatever else is happening, always remember that nothing can take you out of the love of God. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39

Take a moment and listen to this beautiful rendition of Be Still my Soul" by Kari Jobe