Peace Like a River

Have you ever looked at a river? I mean really looked at one…its nature, its flow, its changeability yet still remaining the same?  Rivers overflow, meander peacefully, rush down in white water rapids, pool deeply, wear mighty boulders down to pebbles, while gently feeding tremendous trees, providing a wonderfully nourishing environment for plants and wildlife.

Our God is like that river—forever changing shape and form, yet always the same.   In Hebrews 13:8, the Word tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He promises numerous times that He will never forsake us, never leave us behind, forgotten.  Crying out to Him for relief from desperate struggles is what I depend upon daily, because I know He hears my prayers.  And it doesn’t depend on how “good” or “productive” I’ve been.  It depends on His goodness, all-pervasive love, and deep desire for relationship with us.

“In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.  But You remain the same, and your years will never end.  The children of Your servants will live in Your presence; their descendants will be established before You.”  ~ Psalm 102: 25-28

Waiting on God in the process is the difficult part.  This is the faith-stretching growth that strengthens us for what lies ahead.  Spending time in His presence makes possible the trust we need to look forward to His response with confidence and reassurance of His love.  In James 1:17, it says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Jesus meets me in a secret place of the soul, a seclusion nothing and no one else can enter.  In one of those times, He implanted something in me that safeguards my mind and heart.  He used an image from photosynthesis (a favorite fascination of mine) to steal away my soul from the bitter dregs of despair due to circumstances that were unfathomably unbearable to me, especially since they were partly my fault.

He said to me, “You remember how sunlight bathes the greenness of leaves and grass?  Remember how the light steeps the pigment in the little round stacks inside, the chlorophyll, vibrating the magnesium in the middle, tripping the production of energy and food for the plants?  That is how My love is reviving your heart, your soul, your life.”  As I relaxed into His presence, a vision of being steeped in the power of His light and love permeated me.  What did He implant?  Hope.  Because at that time, I did not even have the strength to hope.  But Jesus did not give up on me, even when I had given up on myself.

These meditative sessions of communing with God are prayer. I need them more than air.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory.  Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You…Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings.  I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.” ~ Psalm 63:1-6

“Prayer loosens the grip of violence

with the hand of peace.

Prayer needs no weapons,

yet Evil is overcome.

Prayer empties us and opens us so we may be

filled with the glory of God.

Prayer in our lives makes us as a great river

flowing to the sea.”   ~ Lawrence P. Ackerman

In Jesus’ presence is the mightiness of His healing, the power to move into the future knowing His love is arranging my path for me.  All I need to do is fall backwards into His hands, moving, speaking, acting in His love.  Even though the shape, size, and configuration of the river I travel changes, my trust remains in my Navigator, because He’s never failed me.

“For thus says the LORD:  ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.  As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you…’”

~ Denise Chambellan-Ackerman

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