I recently picked up the book, “Keep a Quiet Heart” by Elisabeth Elliot.
In all honesty, I picked it up because right now, a quiet heart is not what I have, but it’s what I want.
It’s funny how much in my search for peace and joy I so often forget about quiet. I read and I rush and I schedule and I plan. I organize and reorganize and call a friend.
Much of what I do truly is good –but much of it is not what I truly need.
Because even good things here on earth are not the end goal.
“We are not naturally inclined to love God and seek his Kingdom,” Elisabeth wrote.
I think we all know this. We have the desire for God, we ask for his kingdom… and we get caught up in the everyday before we even say, “Amen.”
At least, I do.
As I flipped the pages last night, these bold words burned brighter than all the rest:
“Nevertheless, we must run aground.”
Elisabeth wrote about Paul, then a prisoner being shipped across the Adriatic Sea, and the angel who stood beside him and told him not to be afraid – God would spare his life and the lives of all aboard, despite the wind and waves. Paul cheered his captors and fellow prisoners with the news, and then said, “Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
God couldn’t have saved the ship while he was at it? He couldn’t have given them more than the shards of broken wood to get them to shore? Elisabeth has a gentle spunk that makes me love her. Yes, he could have. But he doesn’t promise to always spare us.
Maybe we’ve built a ship and placed our hopes more in the sails than the God that fills them. Maybe we assumed we’re meant to end up on the other side of whatever sea is before us – but God has an island he wants us to discover along the way.
We could easily miss our island. We could easily miss the best parts of our story.
No one reads a book where the main character stays comfortable and everything goes well their entire life. We read stories of people who grew, who changed, who encountered God in the storm and believed he was good – who nevertheless, ran aground. And nevertheless, trusted.
These are the kind of stories that change the world. These are the kind of stories that change us.
The stories that remind us that this is not all there is.
“’Running aground,’ then, is not the end of the world,” Elisabeth writes. “But it does help to make the world a bit less appealing.”
It’s rough when we do run aground. It’s hard to not take on disappointment, feeling like we’ve failed, thinking God has abandoned us.
My heart isn’t normally quiet then. “Sorry God, I’ve been trying to keep everything ship-shape, this is no time for a storm, can’t you do something?” But if there was no storm, would I ever hear the angel at my side? Or the still small voice that says, this is the way, walk in it?
Sometimes the ship is in harbor, and sometimes it is in pieces—
But we serve a God who walks on water.
And he always raises us above our circumstances to change our thinking – even if it means reminding us that our circumstances, while good, are not the Kingdom. Because it’s what we don’t see that causes our faith to grow.
If your ship is in pieces… keep your courage. Keep your quiet heart.
This is not the end – Paul’s story goes on to be full of miracles.
Miracles that no one would have seen had that sea been calm that day.
God’s story is always bigger, braver, and more miraculous that you think it is.
And so are you.