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Finding Calm in Life's Chaos: Safe Shelter in the Arms of Jesus

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Overview

Rest in the Savior's armsWhen you feel overwhelmed by life, run to the Savior's loving arms. You long to be a calm and composed woman of God. But too often you only feel frazzled and frantic. And when the winds of chaos begin to blow in your life, your anxiety and insecurity only increase.Becky Harling has been there. But she discovered that when you gain an understanding of who God is, you will find in Him a place of safe shelter-because He provides everything you need.In Finding Calm in Life's Chaos you'll discover a fresh understanding of God's character through Jesus' "I am" statements. You'll come to know God's heart and experience the centering truth that He is worthy of your confidence and trust.Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you'll find this book speaks sensitively to your heart through Scriptures, the author's own hope-filled life, and the stories of other women. Each chapter's Bible study questions and exercises will help you realize that, no matter how chaotic your life may be, Jesus Christ can become your safe shelter.

Details

  • SKU: 9781576836194
  • SKU10: 1576836193
  • Title: Finding Calm in Life's Chaos: Safe Shelter in the Arms of Jesus
  • Series: Living the Questions
  • Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group
  • Date Published: Jun 2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Weight lbs: 0.65
  • Dimensions: 8.20" L x 5.50" W x 0.60" H
  • Features: Price on Product, Maps, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Sex & Gender | Feminine;
  • Category: WOMEN
  • Subject: Christian Life - Women's Issues

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

NOWHERE TO RUN, NOWHERE TO HIDE

I scanned the small sanctuary, planning my escape route. I knew my stomach couldn't hang on much longer. Earlier that morning I had called my fiancé, Steve, explaining that I had the flu and didn't think it wise for me to go with him to the church considering him for the position of pastor. I rationalized that it was unlikely they would vote him in, considering they had already turned down thirteen other potential pastors, but the bottom line was that I felt sicker than a dog. But Steve, nervous about the whole process, had begged over the phone, "Oh, honey, please. You are my fiancée. They need to meet you. After all, you might become their pastor's wife." So I complied against my better judgment. Trust me, we both regretted that decision!

I now found myself feeling nauseated, trapped in a morning worship service and nervously searching for a way out. When Steve began praying the pastoral prayer, I saw my chance to escape. Checking to be sure that every head was bowed and every eye closed, I clutched my stomach and headed for the nearest exit. But I never made it out of that small country church. Eyes popped and mouths dropped as I lost my breakfast all over the front of the sanctuary. The only eyes closed were those of my future husband, who kept right on praying.

Humiliated and embarrassed, I wanted to crawl away and hide. Amazingly, that congregation voted us in unanimously. To this day, Steve calls it a "pity vote."

CHASING THE WIND

A few months later, Steve and I moved into the parsonage next to the church. As a young pastor's wife, I told myself I had to "run faster, jump higher, and try harder." These messages were not new; they had been a part of my life since childhood. I had grown up trying to keep others happy; now I had an entire congregation to keep happy.

Determined to do things right, I set my heart to learn all I could about being a dedicated wife and ministry partner. I read every book I could find on parenting techniques and creating a godly home. As opportunities came to teach the Word of God, I studied all the popular books on communicating with poise and passion. Later, as new positions brought bigger challenges, I devoured books on honing leadership skills. Yet perpetual, internal striving left me feeling stressed out, exhausted, and trapped. Nothing I did seemed to lessen the tension and anxiety I felt. I spent my energy trying to do all the things I thought I was supposed to do in order to please God, when in reality I was exhausting myself trying to please others. Though to many I appeared confident and poised, underneath the surface of that well-maintained composure lay some fragile roots, roots that could be easily upturned if life ever felt out of control and chaotic.

SHATTERED DREAMS

Ten years ago, the storm winds of chaos blew into my life, shaking me to the core and forcing me to take an honest look at myself and my relationship with God. I stood by helplessly as one dream after another disintegrated. Several serious issues rocked my world. My teenage daughter struggled with an eating disorder, and in the process of trying to help her, I realized I had the greater problem. The guilt I felt shattered any illusions I had once entertained of being a good mother. As I entered counseling to deal with my eating issues, God unlocked the doors of childhood trauma, forcing me to come face-to-face with the phantom roots of my fear.

As if my life were not filled with enough stress, a routine mammogram revealed that I had breast cancer, and I went through a complete double mastectomy. The year following the initial surgery, my time was spent going to doctor's appointments and undergoing several reconstructive surgeries. I had very little energy and spiraled into discouragement. All the dreams I had once entertained of changing the world dissolved in puddles of tears on my couch.

During that year, God called Steve and me to a new and larger ministry clear across the country. Everything in me panicked. Now, Lord? I'm not ready! I can't step into a bigger ministry now! But one month after my final surgery, we uprooted our family and kissed security good-bye. We left behind on the East Coast two college-age children and dear friends from the church we'd served for eleven years and moved to California with our two younger daughters to what we perceived to be our dream job.

However, that dream exploded as well. I watched in shock and disbelief as my husband endured continual attacks of criticism. Watching him suffer at the hands of very powerful people felt worse than any of the trauma I had already experienced. Broken and longing for a sense of renewal, Steve resigned. Shortly after his resignation, a routine ultrasound indicated a strong likelihood that I had ovarian cancer, and once again I was scheduled for surgery.

Toward the beginning of all these crises, I felt as though God had abandoned me. He certainly wasn't behaving like the God I had always served. I felt as if everything I had staked my faith on was now up for grabs. Then as the chaos increased, I became more desperate than ever to understand this God whom I said I wanted to serve. Not knowing where else to turn, I cried out to Him in complete and utter desperation, "God, I don't understand Your ways. I thought I knew You, but You have stripped my world bare. I beg You, Lord, show me who You really are. How can I serve You if I'm not even sure I trust You anymore?"

Soon after that prayer, I came across the following passage in Jeremiah:

But blessed is the woman who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. She will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. She will not fear when heat comes; her leaves are always green. She has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (17:7-8, author's paraphrase)

Oh, how I wanted to be like this person! Unlike me, she didn't appear frazzled, anxious, or uptight. She remained steady and unshaken, regardless of what came her way. She had no worries. I had plenty. I did not lack spiritual passion or zeal, but despite my best efforts, I felt more like a weeping willow than a sturdy oak tree.

Convinced that some of the answers I was seeking lay in this passage, I determined to study it more. As I studied, God began to show me why it was difficult for me to trust Him. For many years, I had served God out of fear. But in my fear, I had missed the deeper joy of knowing Him.

In all my striving, I had missed the most important phrase in Jeremiah's description: "whose confidence is in him." This person was calm in the midst of chaos because she willingly placed her trust in God and His character rather than in herself or her circumstances. She was deeply rooted in God, not because she knew about His character or was driven to perform for Him but because she had learned to experience and enjoy Him as her safe shelter. What she knew in her head had somehow made it down into the crevices of her heart. As a result, her confidence in Him had given her everything I longed for-the courage to face challenges, the confidence to feel secure, and the centering peace that all is well. Now the question I faced became How? How could I move my head knowledge of God down into the depths of my quaking heart?

I determined to bury myself in the heart of Jesus. For four years straight I read and reread the Gospels, seeking to know Him better. As I studied Jesus' life, His "I am" statements drew me like a magnet. I discovered that every "I am" statement correlates with a significant emotional need. As I began to understand who Jesus was and what He promised through His "I am" statements, I also began to trust Him with a confidence that could not be shaken. As I learned to draw from His character and nestle down in His presence, anxiety was replaced with calmness, panic with confidence, and insecurity with assurance.

While I still don't have this down perfectly, I am learning to retreat into His presence moment by moment. I can now follow in the footsteps of Moses and say,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)

Courage, confidence, and centering peace ultimately come from steadfast trust in God's holy character and awesome abilities. They are rooted in a belief that has taken up residency in our hearts, the seat of our emotions. When we put our trust in God, we realize that we cannot do it alone. Therefore,

Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

God never fails, never changes, never grows weary, and never quits. When we trust in His character and abilities, we can rest because He is ever-present and everything we need. Change doesn't seem as daunting. Difficulties don't seem so monumental. Disappointments hurt but don't diffuse all hope. Instead, the woman who knows God intimately is able to face life's chaos with assurance, security, strength, and hope because her tranquility flows out of the glorious character of Almighty God.

The book you now hold in your hands is the result of my study and of my hours spent in His presence. As you read about Jesus and study His "I am" statements -

"I am . he" "I am the bread of life" "I am the light of the world" "I am the good shepherd" "I am the resurrection and the life" "I am the way" "I am . the truth" "I am the vine" "I am the Alpha and the Omega" -

I pray that you will find yourself drawn into God's presence and that you will come to know Him more intimately.

WHERE DO YOU HIDE?

Wherever you are with God at this moment, it's possible to go deeper. Is He the One you turn to when life leaves you wounded, torn apart, and stripped? Perhaps you've become disillusioned with Him and now wonder if you ever really knew Him. It is even possible that He is the One you are blaming for your chaos. Maybe your world is rocking at this very moment; maybe the winds of chaos are blowing. Where are you planning to hide?

The Almighty God who created you understands you perfectly. He wants you to know Him, not just casually but intimately. Will you lay aside any preconceived notions you might have about Him and join me as an inquisitive child, seeking only to know the truth about His character?

If you put His promises to the test, I dare say that you won't be disappointed. If you run to Him who is your safe shelter, you will discover the unshakable peace and security found there.

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