"The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever."- Isaiah 32:17
The memory is still fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. June 2006 was a very special moment in our marriage, our lives, and our ministry calling. I had just completed my seminary studies earning a Master's Degree. My graduation in conjunction with our anniversary was the perfect time for us to take our first cruise and there was no more perfect place to visit than Alaska. It was a month of great expectation and joy heading towards this special vacation getaway.
However, even the most exciting trips can become a bit trying on your nerves. It happened on the first night as we were trying to sleep, that the seas became a bit rougher than anticipated. With the constant up and down rocking motion the boat took upon each wave, I became more anxious wondering when it would end. We eventually fell asleep only to awaken to greater astonishment the next morning. The once boisterous seas had given way to complete calm. You could hardly feel the boat moving at all. It was as if the boat was gliding on a sheet of glass. What led to this tranquil transformation you ask? Well, during the night the ship had made its way to the "inside passage" route. The "inside passage" is a body of water that is between two land masses which shields it from turbulent waters. The rest of the cruise was everything we hoped for and even more than we could imagine. We took in all the majestic nature of Alaska and all the relaxing amenities of a cruise liner.
As we fast forward almost ten years to October 2015, I again find myself (along with our entire church family) at a very exciting new season. We have been living joyfully in the abundant faithfulness of God. We are standing expectantly at a historic moment as we look to a new property to make room for all the people the Holy Spirit has been bringing to The Shepherd's House. And much like my very first cruise experience, the outset of this journey can be challenging, intimidating, and overwhelming. It seems that crossing over into God's promise is not always as easy or as clearly mapped out as expected. In this new season where we have experienced much growth and many promises there has also arisen challenges, doubts, and obstacles to overcome. There are the very real challenges to address with a church that is growing and with room running our in our sanctuary and kids classes. With each passing day waiting for the promise to become clearer there comes a wondering "when" it will come? With each "no" or closed door in searching for a new property it is easy to give place to discouragement and a sense of feeling trapped. Yet, I believe the Lord would be calling us to have an astonishing moment and a tranquil transformation on this journey, just as I did waking up that first morning on the cruise.Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You."
Last week as I was praying for our pathway I was astonished by a picture the Spirit gave me. The picture I saw had a true transforming effect which released a confidence and strength in me that was much needed and much greater than I had experienced to date. In my prayers I saw the four babies in our church family that had been born in the last year. Each of these precious little ones, despite being from completely different sets of parents, all possess a similar feature that I believe is a key word for our church. These four babies all possess the most peaceful disposition I have seen. They rarely if ever cry or get upset (I would actually need video footage to believe otherwise). There is a peaceful spirit in each child that is unmistakably unique.
As I think about these four "cuties" born in the last year, I see a confirmation for our journey into the new. The Lord wants us to live in His peace as we move on the pathway towards His promise. That no matter the decisions that need to be made; the challenges that need to be faced; and the resources that need to be released; God will cover and comfort us in every way. God does have every answer we need on this journey, He is walking every step with us on this journey, and wants us to have every manner of assurance this journey is not only worth it, but wonderfully more than anything we could have imagined. Ephesians 3:20 tells us, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."