“I can’t wait to get there!” I exclaimed as we worked to load the car. “I am going to climb the mountain,” Andrew said. “I am going to watch the sunrise,” said Laura. “I am going hiking,” added David.
Here it was. The day our church staff had been greatly anticipating, Staff Sabbath. A time that we take as a group to leave the office (our church,) and go to a place where we can unplug and renew our spirits. We have no set agenda, we just each go and do whatever feeds our souls.
I was especially excited because we were headed to Sumatanga, so named because it is a place of rest and vision. I could not wait to take my blanket down to the lake, lie down and just breathe in the presence of God. This is where I pray the best and where I seem to hear God the clearest – out by the lake, in the silence and listening for the rustle of the trees.
And I needed it badly. I had felt somewhat disconnected from God for some time and my soul felt empty. I took my journal and my drawing pad. I prayed. I read a book, I took a nap – It was awesome! And, I was completely alone with God, what peace. Although we had all come to this wonderful place together, we never stay with each other. We always go our own ways and spend the day in worship any way we choose. And it is normally different for each of us.
So as we journeyed home in the evening, I lamented that I could not have that experience every day. My life would be so rich and full if I could only experience His presence like that every day. But, life calls with work, kids, house and other responsibilities. So I guess our quarterly retreat day would have to do.
The next day I was at work, and had to go out back for something. And guess what I discovered? We have a lake on our church property! It is beautiful and peaceful, and most definitely a thin place, where the Spirit of God is truly accessible. Here, just 72 steps from my office was the very thing that I had been longing for all this time. How had I missed it??
By now you have figured out that I jest. Of course I knew the lake with the beautiful prayer trail wrapped around it was there. I can see it from my office window. But everyday I walk past it because I am in a hurry to get everything done that dominates my to-do list. I feel guilty if I take the time to go out sit by lake, just listening. After all, I am being paid good money to help people find their way to God. Surely, I can’t take time out of my busy schedule to do something so unproductive. Can I??
Here’s the thing friends. God knows what I need. He understands how my mind, body and spirit operate. I am a contemplative soul. I need quiet, reflection time to gain clarity and peace in all aspects of my life. And in His infinite grace, He has abundantly provided me with that opportunity right outside my door. How foolish am I to walk past this gift each day and not take advantage of it? I know it would make me better at my job. And I know it would lead me to a better quality of life. Because in that setting, my soul is renewed. I am strengthened.
What is it that you need to have a better quality of life? What do you need to fill your soul? Is it exercise? Is it music or art? Is it to delve deeply into His Word each day? Or maybe it is more down time with loved ones. Whatever way God fills your soul, please don’t consider it a luxury or self-indulgence. Take advantage of the opportunities He is giving us to become molded into the people He plans for us to be. Find your peaceful place, and fight for it if need be. Because certainly the world will strive to take it away from us if we allow it.
Maybe you run so hard, you honestly don’t know what things might help you to slow down and experience His presence. If that is the case, you might try reading, “Sacred Pathways,” by Gary Thomas. It is a wonderful book that helps us to find the specific ways in which we might connect with God the best. And there are many. Or, you might simply think about the times you have felt closest to Him, and try to determine why that was the case. Either way, it is an exercise that brings so much good into your life. It is worth the effort.
My prayer for each of us today is that we would all learn enough about ourselves that we would know how best to feel God’s presence. I pray that we would come to an understanding of how important daily connection is, and that we would each develop the heart of a God Chaser. Let us pursue our peace with determination and priority.
Seek peace my friends.
“He leads me beside still waters; He renews my soul…” Psalm 23
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