Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…

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peace in the chaos

Five months ago I boarded a plane to visit a dear friend from high school who now lives in Costa Rica as a missionary. I had little expectation for what the trip would entail aside from sun, fun and adventure. What I got was all of that plus a major catch-up session, deep conversations about faith, memories that still come to mind and a friendship fortified through new experiences.

I’ve thought about this vacation often since returning to the States and how to best share it with others. This blog seems the natural outlet, but I’ve had a difficult time putting my experiences into words. How do you adequately describe seven days of unplugging from American culture and technology? How do you process the genuine friendliness that strangers extend? How do you share the impact deep conversations with a close friend have on your life? This is where I’ve been stuck spinning my wheels. And as I spin, time passes and the trip is further in the rear view mirror. There comes a point that it seems so long ago that it would be useless to share. And yet I have a driving sense to share.

Which brings me to this: over the next several weeks it’s my commitment to you – my family, friends and extended friends – to share about what I learned about people, culture, life and faith while in Costa Rica this summer. I realize it was a short trip and that it may seem odd that it impacted me so much – but I can’t explain it and so I must share it.

While many moments stand out and there are many I think about often, one has continued to surface several times since returning, simply because of where I live and the culture with which I’m surrounded. Being so close to Seattle and getting into the city multiple times a month, while simultaneously working for a large, busy, event-driven church, my life is often consumed with noise and activity.

IMG_3563On one of my last days in Costa Rica, in the midst of downtown San Jose, with horns honking, people walking and all manner of life happening around us, my friend and I visited a beautiful, old church. We took our time looking at stained glass windows, artwork and even sat on one of the pews near the altar for a quiet moment with God.

I took several long, deep breaths to rest and silence my mind and soul, paying close attention to God and what He was saying to me. What I felt brought a smile to my face: Even in the middle of a busy city, overflowing with life, you can find peace with Me if you quiet yourself and remove yourself from the noise and focus. I am that close. You can have peace in the chaos when you turn to Me.

Peace in the chaos. That is what I constantly seek. In the busyness of work; in the running here and there; in the explosions of relationships and life, peace in the chaos is my heart’s cry. And there God was, telling me exactly how to find it.

So as the city moved around me I stopped. I breathed. I listened. I found my pathway to peace in the chaos.


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Learning from the Sower

Several weeks ago I felt challenged about how I was spending my time. It would be an understatement to say that life is busy. I’m constantly – as I’m sure you are – barraged by phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates and face-to-face meetings. Social networking happens at all hours of the day. Coffee dates with friends are slammed right next to conference calls and meetings. Gym workouts are superseded by the growling in my stomach and the heaviness of my eyelids.

I wouldn’t trade the connectedness of my life for anything. I love getting the email from a friend in Switzerland saying that she will be in the country this fall and would like to know how close Seattle is to Atlanta so we can visit. I love encouraging text messages from friends. I love phone calls from friends and family. I love the ability to easily stay in touch with everyone from my childhood friends to my newest friends.

What weighs heavy on me is how easily I slip in to the chaos of life and allow it get me off track from the things that matter most. Life’s issues have a keen ability to take the front seat and push the healthy items to the trunk.

I’m reminded of the parable of the sower in Mark 4:19 – “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

I’ve only heard this story used to illustrate circumstances when an individual puts his or her faith in Jesus. But doesn’t it also apply to mature Christians? How easily we fall in to the trap of focusing on our circumstances instead of the One who can help us through our circumstances. We allow the irritations of life to pull us away from our only true source of soothing. Life’s worries choke out the Word and make us unfruitful.

The great qualities of relationship with friends and family, of staying connected, of keeping an active social calendar, of climbing the corporate ladder and of so much of life, can so easily overshadow the eternally impacting qualities of relationship with God.

If I’ve learned anything from my current state of perpetual motion, it’s that I want to be a person who leans in to God when things get difficult or busy, not one who lets the chaos edge out my relationship with the Lord.