In the previous update, I shared the lessons the Father was teaching me regarding my anxiety. If you missed that article, you can read it here: https://timothymark.com/countdown-to-antarctica/
At the time, little did I know how quickly circumstances in my world would change.
Within days of posting the previous blog, the sailboat sold! It is an immense relief to know it is taken care of before departing for Antarctica. I celebrate this milestone.
That’s the good news. Now for the bad news.
This past Tuesday evening, I received an email from my supervisor in Antarctica. The subject line read, “Unfortunate News.” Cautiously, I opened the email. The National Science Foundation (NSF) oversees the research and work at McMurdo, Antarctica. Due to the escalating pandemic, they decided to cut back the scale of work at McMurdo this season. Unfortunately, as a result, my position was eliminated. That’s right. Downsized. Cut. Gone. Crickets chirping. I am back in alternate status. If anything opens up, they will let me know.
I sat there on the couch, trying to process the message, and reread the email on my cell phone. And I smiled. Yes, I actually smiled. And here is where it gets interesting.
You would imagine I would be disappointed, sad, bummed out. But I was not. I sat there smiling, completely content, not a care in the world, not the least bit disappointed. I began to wonder if I was mentally okay. Have I finally lost my mind? Has the stress become so great that I have completely lost it?
I had the most astounding peace. I do not have words to describe it. No worry. No anxiety. Just complete, utter peace, satisfied, full of joy. Not a care in the world.
And that is when the lesson I recently learned came back to my mind. Ah, yes, the Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious. Surrender everything to the Father. And the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind.
There it was! I was experiencing the peace of God that is beyond understanding! It was guarding me, protecting my heart, and defending my mind. I was flabbergasted. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Honestly, I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. Surely dismay would follow. But peace remained, anchoring me, filling me, washing over me.
I settled in to spend a few moments talking about the situation with the Father. Then, in my mind, I saw myself sitting on his lap, on his left knee. His arm was around me, his hand resting on my leg. I craned my neck and looked down over the side of his leg. There, on the floor below at his feet, was a tiny toy sailboat lying on its side. Nearby, to the right of the sailboat, was a small toy home. Then, just further away, I saw a child-sized puzzle, partially finished, the three or four remaining pieces scattered about the edges. On the face of the puzzle was the continent of Antarctica, nearly complete.
In that beautiful moment, I saw my life from the perspective of the lap of God, and it changed everything. My toys, the things I highly value in my childlike mind, lay scattered at his feet. There on his lap, none of them mattered in the least. His embrace overwhelmed me. His love filled me to the full. I sat there looking at my toys and realized there is simply no comparison to the feeling I get when I am with my Father God. Nothing even comes close. I sat there on his lap, resting in his peace, willing to set aside my toys for the joy of being with my Father, who loves me so profoundly.
I don’t recall ever experiencing peace like this in my life. It was a big moment, one I will long remember. I suspect the path to this overwhelming peace begins with surrender. I believe the moments of surrender I experienced a few weeks ago made possible the peace I enjoy today. For I think it’s unlikely that peace is possible while we cling to our toys, our problems, and our circumstances.
Further, the peace of God is not something we generate through will or effort. It is something that is given to us by God. It is the peace of or from God. Some reading this will think, “Wow, look how Tim is responding.” But that implies that I am somehow willing myself to have peace. That is not true! No, it is the supernatural peace of God at work. It is his peace that is doing the heavy lifting.
The Bible says the peace of God guards us. In the original language, it is a military term. His peace sets up a perimeter around us like a special forces team with guns drawn, defending against anything that would discourage, defeat, or cause anxiety from affecting our hearts and our minds. I merely sit there in the middle, surrendered to the Father’s embrace, surrounded by his peace. His peace guards our hearts, that place of emotion and feeling. And it guards our minds, that place of intellect and thought. Ironically, the Bible says the peace of God is beyond understanding. So while we cannot comprehend it, we experience it to the full in our hearts and minds.
The Bible says when we are aware that the owner of our lives and toys is near, we have no reason to be anxious about anything. We bring all our requests to our loving Father by prayer with thanksgiving. Then, the peace of God, which is beyond comprehension, guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) The result of all this is that his peace protects us! Imagine. All our anxieties are vanquished. We rest in his care.
The Lord is at hand. I rest in his embrace.
With this change, there is still a possibility I will be in Antarctica this winter. If an existing team member falls ill or leaves the program for some reason, management may ask me to replace them. So I keep my bags packed and ready to go on short notice. I know of other past season team members who were alternates who were called in November to join the team on base. So we will wait to see what God has planned. The good news is that if I do not make it to the Ice this year, I get priority in joining the team next year! So there is still a great deal of hope to see the puzzle completed.
Once again, I will not have access to Facebook or any other social media sites in Antarctica. The only updates I expect to make will be through the email mailing list. If you are reading this on the website or from a forwarded email and are not currently a member, join the community here: https://timothymark.com/email-signup/