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Transition: Pain and Peace [UPDATE]


“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”

— Proverbs 16:9

I’ve been back in Canada for two months now, and what a rollercoaster ride it has been… I have enjoyed the lovely summer weather here in Ontario, and all the wonderful things that come with living in Muskoka (AKA “cottage country”), with access to fresh water lakes, rivers, forests and parks galore. This has been therapeutic for me — a calm reprieve amid all the goodbyes and changes and unknowns in my life. It is only NOW that I am finally unpacking my bags and starting to hang my clothes up in a closet, and able to call ONE room and ONE bed my own, after moving around from town to town, bed to bed, and people to people since I said goodbye to New Zealand in early July. To say that the continual movement of the past two months has been difficult is the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!!! I’m a planter and a nester, so to constantly be moving around and not certain about anything for an extended block of time, has pressed every button inside of me. I’m starting to see that God really doesn’t mind having all our buttons pressed. He has purpose in it. It certainly brings us face to face with the reality of what’s really going on inside us, and forces us to either run away from the vulnerability, or come to God in vulnerable trust and total dependence on Him.

Right now, I’m totally out of my comfort-zone, and out of my control-zone. All my well-laid plans have been stopped. I am not moving to the M-i-d-d-l-e E-a-s-t. Many of you already know this, but I wanted to share the news “officially”. Back in March, I shared in detail about my plans to move to T-u-r-k-e-y. Let’s just say that pretty soon after I sent out that update, I could not shake this deep sense that something wasn’t right. I went to book my flight to T-u-r-k-e-y, determined to keep going forward with my plans, but I had no peace about it. Now that’s a recipe for torment! I tried to reason it away. I told myself that it was just fear, and that I just had to do what I’ve always done when going into a new season: step forward and “do it afraid”. But I just couldn’t shake this unsettledness in my spirit that God was trying to get my attention. Well, to make a long story slightly shorter, I didn’t book the ticket to T-u-r-k-e-y. I booked a ticket to Canada instead, and the peace of God returned to my heart. The all-consuming peace to head in this direction shocked me; floored me, to be honest. Canada was not in my plans at all! In many ways, I’d closed my heart to my “home and native land” long ago. It seems, though, that God has a way of opening up our hearts again, in unexpected ways and with unexpected timing.

Recently, I wrote this quote below on Twitter, which describes my life right now:

“Often it takes more courage and more faith to go back home, than it takes to go somewhere foreign and new.”

So, here I am in Canada, in the corner of the globe I was born and raised in.

I am here.

I am finally stopping.

I am unpacking my bags. (Finally! Yay!)

And I have peace with God.

If I had been allowed to write the plot, this chapter would certainly NOT have been a part of the book! But I guess that’s what makes a good story: mystery, intrigue, suspense and twists in the story. And even though I’m walking through some really painful things right now, I can’t emphasize enough how much the PEACE OF GOD has become the very FOOD my heart, soul, mind, body and spirit feed upon. The peace of God is the only thing that makes walking through the painful stuff WORTH IT.

Earlier this year, someone came up to me and asked me point-blank, “Alison, how long can you live outside of the peace of God? How long can you live in that torment?” That question has stuck with me ever since.

This man went on to say, “Alison, let the peace of God RULE and GOVERN your heart. The peace of God must be the ruler and governor of your life.” (paraphrase of Colossians 3:15). This hits home as a plumb line for what this season is about: learning to allow God’s peace to rule my life, and not be ruled by anything else.

Could you please stand with me in prayer as I embrace this new, unexpected season in Canada? Thank you so much!