We are SO excited to feature a guest post from Renee Clanton, one of our featured speakers at this year’s Single Moms Retreat, happening June 2-3 in Alexandria, Minnesota (find all the details here!). Today, Renee talks about how we can turn to God when the storms of life threaten to overwhelm us, finding true peace and restoration in him. She writes:
Every one of us faces circumstances or seasons of life that leave us weary, overwhelmed, heartbroken, or shattered. The brokenness of our world crashes over our daily, personal lives leaving us tumbled and gasping for air. In such moments, we need a quiet place, a renewing of our perspective and strength, a restoring of our souls.
I know the battering of such storms…and I have learned where to turn in the midst of the tempests in life. His name is Jesus. His love is overwhelming. His presence is tangibly real. He is a refuge, a fortress, and a gentle shepherd.
Recently, as I was walking through the unexpected death of someone in my immediate family, I spent time reflecting once again on Psalm 23, phrase by phrase. What powerful words that reassure us of God’s care and presence with us, always.
Verse 2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters” (NASB). So often, when we think of trying to follow and please God, we immediately begin to think of all of the things we need to “do” for him. But did you notice the wording? “He MAKES me lie down in green pastures.” Our Heavenly Father knows that we need rest! Not just “sleep” (though we do need that!), but the kind of rest that comes from lying down in soft green grass, next to a carefree, bubbling stream, breathing in deeply as a gentle breeze washes over our weary body.
“It is 20 below outside!” or “I live in a small apartment in the middle of the city!” might be your response. Let me encourage you, no matter where you live, to find ways to spend time outside in the beautiful world God has created. Walk through the park, sit on a bench next to the lake, hike a nature trail, or pause to watch the sunset through the kitchen window. And talk to God as you do! God made this incredible world for you, knowing that time spent in nature, with him, actually renews you physically and helps to clear your heart and mind of those things that weigh you down.
But even more important, God longs to be a “quiet place” for you, even when you can’t get outside or lie down in a “green pasture.” God invites you into his presence to spend time with him. Open the Bible and read of his love for you. Put on music that focuses your attention on the faithfulness and awesomeness of God. Close your eyes, shutting out the pressures of your day, and talk with God openly, honestly, continually. Tell him the joys of your day, vent your anger, share your worries with him, and release your fears. Then take time to just be quiet before him in his presence. Listen for what he wants to speak into your heart. “Be still, and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Psalm 23:3 goes on to say, “He restores my soul…” (NASB). I don’t know about you, but I desire wholeness and complete restoration in my life! I want God to comfort my fears, mend my broken heart, bring clarity and truth to my thinking, and fill me with hope for my future! It is only as you spend time in God’s presence that you will experience restoration in your life. “He restores my soul…” He really does! Each day, moment by moment, you can experience his presence, his amazing love, and his restoring power as you look to him for your strength, call on his name, and trust in his faithfulness.
Psalm 23 ends with the promise that “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” (NLT). God wants to pursue you with His love and goodness! Yes, there will be storms and evil is ever present, but it is God’s LOVE and GOODNESS that will determine the outcome of your days! And how many days? ALL the days of your life! On good days or bad days, during the storms or in seasons of joy, God’s love and goodness is there to pursue and surround you.
Step into God’s presence. Lie down in his “green pastures” and allow him to restore your soul!
Renee Clanton is a positive, energetic communicator who loves to share about the faithfulness of our amazing God! She is passionate about ministering to women. Renee, an ordained minister, currently serves with Network211, a ministry that shares Jesus online in 16 languages. Previously, for three years she worked with Project Rescue, a ministry that rescues and restores victims of sexual slavery through the love and power of Jesus Christ.
Renee graduated from North Central University, served as a missionary to Muslims both overseas and in the United States, and coordinated single moms retreats in Southern California. Renee raised two daughters as a divorced, single mom for 8 years. Having remarried in 2013, Renee and her husband, Flynn, now serve together as Assemblies of God world missionaries, and they love their beautiful blended family of five kids.
Thank you for the encouraging words. When I first heard the words that the degenerative condition in my back was inoperable, I was devastated. The following days became years and I went from an active vibrant central part of my church family, social circles, community and church fine arts and outreach to being alone. With only a few of the very close friends who have stayed true through the storm when I haven’t had the ability or energy to do anything in return for their love and care like I had in the past. I had always been the doer, the giver, the one who’s love languages were gift giving and service. It’s a HUGE lesson to learn how to humble yourself and learn to receive. But in all of the pain and suffering there is an immense beauty as you find that after you let go of the loss and stop resenting your circumstances and allow God to take over and work all things for your good, He took my wheelchair and instead of a prison, made it my secret place of prayer. That place you describe where I can walk with him, and talk with him and I am whole. Laying down in the green grass and having the Holy Spirit bring new and wonderful rest to me as I pray and intercede for others and I am refreshed in spite of the health issues I battle because God is my strength and my portion.
You have reminded me that it is not about having a life that is free of all trials, but a God who is the source of my strength and carries me no matter what trials I face. Peace that passeth all understanding. Blessings of Christ be upon you and your family.