This Second Sunday of Advent we light the candle symbolizing peace. Peace – calmness, stillness, tranquility May you steal away some quiet moments to sit in stillness and reflect on peace. I, Shelly struggled with sitting still. I do still, but by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation that is ongoing in my life , I have learned how to. But truly, I will tell you I am not sure I learned it really, but I opened myself up to receive it. One morning, it was a Saturday, my daughter was still young and I was still in those early days as a nurse practitioner where the learning curve was high and working in family practice was demanding and exhausting. Keeping up with a toddler was demanding and exhausting. I loved both(obviously the toddler more) but I was spent. In fact, financially for my family the NP part was necessary. So depleted on this Saturday morning I miraculously had a few moments to myself. I remember the echo of the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). I had heard it. I had read it. I had heard others preach it and advise it. I didn’t know how to do it. I sat at my breakfast table that Saturday morning and cried out to the Lord, “Lord, what is still?? And how do I be it????”. That morning was the first, but not the last when I was embraced with this calmness. This feeling of stillness and serenity, this way my soul felt that was beyond understanding. It descended upon me like a warm mist and seemed to envelop me like the softest, gentlest cashmere. Later that morning I was moved to pen a poem and from that morning much transpired in my spiritual journey. But for the sake of this Sunday, this moment we are just going to pause at that warm embrace of the gentle , calmness that soothed my weary , exhausted body, mind and soul.
That peace I cannot give but He does. Ask Him for it. Then open yourself up to receive it!
We gathered together to connect, to remember the good things he has done, and to share our stories with our sisters in Christ in order to build one another up and to encourage one another as we continue this faith journey.
Friday evening kicked off the evening with a meal, followed by worship and two sisters sharing their testimonies. From the worship music to the testimonies, God showed up. In this brief opening evening the Holy Spirit came and administered to me a soothing salve for so many ails. I will do my best to try and unpack it all.
Let me back up a bit. Earlier this week I was hit by fear and an old stronghold of approval addiction. A friend was helping me with a task that contributes to my health and a potential ability for me to help empower others with their health. I am a healthcare provider, after all. This role however is more holistic and organic. One of the tasks caused me to get outside of my comfort zone. My old nature with conflict is to retreat. Fight or flight? I am running out the back door. I immediately sent a message to this friend who is also a sister in Christ. ‘I cannot do this thing. It doesn’t feel right.’
My friend read my message. She gave me time. The next day she called only to seek understanding. She loved me enough to ask some hard questions. Immediately I felt defensive, because in my mind I had thought I had processed it all. When talking it out I realized there were two things going on, the first was fear and concern for what others think of me (an old stronghold). The second realization is this was very likely a spiritual attack. Not only was I attending our Disocesean Women’s Retreat, I was helping lead a workshop.
Another important side note, I am still in the early stages of grief from my father’s passing in July of 2021. There has been progress made. There has been peace given , but there is still much to process. Grief is a lifelong journey , but there are definitely different seasons of grief.
Ok let’s get back to Friday night.
As I joined with my sisters’ singing these lyrics “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God,” I felt affirmation in my soul that the challenges of this week were indeed a type of spiritual attack and the weapon was fear. As I sang that refrain aloud, I could feel the grip of fear and the lies of Satan loosening.
A sister shared her testimony of God’s sustaining grace and in time His provision and then abundant blessings of provision. Our sister Justina reminded us , “Do not limit God in any way!”
Another sister, Beth shared. She reminded us that no matter where our current trials may have us we are on the road to Zion. She reminded us that when we don’t have a present joy we can take a deposit out of the future joy which is secure because of our hope in Christ.
We later sang these words:
Whom the Son sets free , oh is free indeed! I’m a child of God yes I am!
In my Father’s house there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God ,yes I am!
Who You Say I Am, Hillsong Worship
We sang this song in church Sun July 11, 2021. This was my first Sunday service that I attended after my Daddy died on July 4, 2021. The Lord ministered to me that morning in those lyrics as my Daddy was free from his ailing body and the limitations caused by his stroke. So here we are on Friday, February 25, 2022. As I sang these words aloud, the Holy Spirit brought me an image. It was my Daddy standing, walking, fully healed and restored, and his arms were outstretched reaching upward as if praising. More tears flowed , but they were accompanied by the fact that I don’t just think or believe or hope… I know my Daddy is free indeed and fully restored in my Abba Father’s house.
Chains of fear broke. Strongholds of people pleasing and approval addiction tried to resurface, but fled when proclaiming the blessed assurance which is promised in Christ, revealed to me by the Holy Spirit my Daddy’s present freedom. I stood free from the slings and arrows of Satan’s despair and distraction so the next morning I would be free to both receive and speak life to my sisters in Christ.