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The past two months have been filled with travel, Christmas with friends and family, play and work, as well as the standard fight against illness that is so common during the winter months.

Yet through it all, I have had a profound sense of experiencing the reality of Immanuel, God with us.  His presence has taken on the form of peace in the midst of so much activity.  Often, through the pressing needs and seeming shortage of time, I have been at peace, which has enabled me to more thoroughly enjoy what I was doing, and the people I was with.

This is a new development in my journey with God.  I have lived through decades of deep anxiety on a daily basis about almost everything I experienced in this world, as well as wondering what God would have me do with my life. This anxiety only deepened in seasons of impossible work loads, pressing family issues that demanded resolution, and a history of ill health for much of my adult life. Thus, this new sense of peace in the midst of all that has been going on seems miraculous to me.

As I have pursued inner healing for over 20 years for the many deep wounds of my heart and soul, I have not only found myself drawing closer to God over time, but also experiencing a profound peace that seems to expand and encompass more and  more of my waking hours with each new round of healing.

I am becoming convinced that one of God's deepest desires for his people is that we not only believe in his Son and the work of the cross and resurrection, but that through these truths we know experientially that Jesus truly is Immanuel, God WITH us!

I realized recently that the season of Advent is almost upon us, which led to thinking about God - the creator of the universe, of all that has existed, or ever will. . . and I marveled again that this amazing creator also cares about what is going on in my daily life.

In October,  I spent two weeks helping a friend clean out her house in preparation for selling it and moving; it was a daunting mountain of work! Every day we had a long list of tasks that needed to be completed in order to have it all done by moving day. And, as usual, our plans often did not unfold as we intended.  We could have grumbled and complained about it. However, we had no need to do so.

Instead, we would frequently take time to reflect on how the day had unfolded before us, how we could see God at work in our midst changing our plans, always for our benefit. We marveled at the way the apparent chaos somehow turned into order by the end of the day, how a friend unexpectedly stopped by to help get some part of the cleaning out and packing process done, or how quickly a seemingly large task was completed. God even moved a big task to Saturday, which we had planned for the following Monday.  We did not see why at the time, but by the end of the day Monday it was clear that we would not have been able to do anything about that major task that day.  And that would have made it almost impossible to get everything else done on time.  It was then that we could see why God blessed us with extra hands to get that big task done the previous Saturday. . . it was not our plan, but it was his plan for us, and it was an incredible blessing!

In the midst of dismantling my friend's home of 23 years, which was also my home for 10 years, I could feel God's presence in our midst. The peace was tangible, and it lasted throughout the entire two weeks, from the day I started packing to travel to her home, through the day I returned home. That peace even permeated a 13 hour drive home which normally takes about 7 hours. Amazing! That peace was the fulfillment of his word to us in John 14:27:

                   My peace I leave with you. . .let not your heart be troubled. . . 

It is at times like this that I clearly see the hand of God at work in my life, and I marvel anew that he cares about all the seemingly mundane moments of daily life, as well as the daunting challenges I face. But then, isn't that what Immanuel means? God with us, in ALL of our moments.

Jesus promised to always be with us (Matthew 28:20).  As God leads me toward deeper intimacy with him, my awareness of his abiding presence through his Holy Spirit continues to grow. I learn anew of his unending faithfulness, and realize at a deeper level that he is absolutely trustworthy.  I am then able to surrender more of my life, more of my hopes and dreams, more of my being, into his trustworthy, capable and loving hands.

And isn't that the heart of spiritual maturity - ever deepening surrender of ourselves to God? He makes it possible for this deep surrender to take place simply because of his unending perfect love for me and his faithfulness, which enable me to entrust to him all that I am.  He is indeed trustworthy!  He knows the plans he has for me, plans for welfare and not for harm, to give me a future, with hope (Jeremiah 29:11, paraphrase). He even has plans to bring order out of my seemingly chaotic days. I can rest, and be at peace, because of his faithfulness.