I am a “Martha” (*) by nature. In other words, I am a doer more than a calmer, “sit-at-the-feet-of-Jesus” type individual. I like making lists of daily goals and feel a sense of satisfaction when I can methodically cross off those things I accomplish.
“Honey, do you always have to be doing something extra?” my long-suffering spouse of over forty years shaking his head at the latest counted cross-stitch project on my lap while we are watching a movie.
“But I enjoy it and it helps me to relax! Look! Isn’t it pretty? Oh-oh—drat! I missed a few X’s,” scrambling through the pattern pages to retrieve the exact color directions and strand-size.
Every now and then, I glance up at the T.V. screen and get immersed into the movie’s plot, only to then have to re-count stitches during commercial breaks . . . Not so relaxing, after all.
“I can tell you’re one of those people who doesn’t truly relax until your head hits the pillow at bedtime; your muscles are tighter than a rusty gate!” my chiropractor has commented.
This all explains why I have to consciously set aside the FIRST half-hour or more of my schedule each day for time with God. This meeting has to be away from my normal environment (or with my eyes closed)—otherwise, my mind clutters up with things I “must” do, my thoughts darting from one thing to another like a spastic automated toy gone berserk.
My favorite spot for this endeavor is outdoors where my soul can bask in the nuances of nature. As my grandmother used to say, ‘One’s heart is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anyplace else on earth,’ and I have found that to be true through all His handiwork.
For me, there are two special places that I choose above all others that help me to still my mind and relax in God’s presence.
One is our backyard screened-in gazebo, where I can separate myself from visible household duties and concentrate on the awesome display of nature. The sun dappling across the lawn playing hide and seek with the clouds. . .a yellow butterfly flitting from one bush to another. . .two squirrels chasing each other ‘round and ‘round a tree trunk. . .sparrows hopping around the bird-feeder. . .lilac-scented gentle breezes tickling whimsical chimes. . .dew drops on blades of grass glistening in the morning dew. . .birdsongs blending into choral anthems while leaves flutter, flounced ruffles on a little girl’s Easter dress. There I can hear God’s whisper to “Be still and know that I am God.”**
The other spot I cherish is sitting out on the end of a dock, feet dangling and caressing the gently lapping waves of the lake beneath me. Like a lone eagle on a treetop, I survey the horizon, the vast shimmering waters before me stretching across to the opposite shores, and listen to the gulls as they soar and dip and effortlessly wing their way through the air, another example of God’s intricate creation. A duck family floats by while the grasshoppers on the bank chirp at them and I marvel at their precision-driven little cluster, unseen webbed feet flapping as they go. A crane cries, a fish splashes to the surface and disappears again, a weeping willow tree sways to the rhythm of the dance of uninterrupted harmony.
In those places, I have learned how to be still and to listen--to let go, to release my fevered control of things not really under my control--to realize my finiteness against the backdrop of His infiniteness. To rest in His help, strength, and security of His perfect love--to give up my fearful and anxious thoughts while meditating on His Word--to surrender thoughts that disturb my peace. To reflect on what God can do in the face of what I am unable to do.
I have discovered, like many others, that silence can be intimidating. Why is that? Because it causes us to tackle issues we might be running from, by multi-tasking to mask the voids we create within ourselves by mind-numbing activities that, over time, will lose relationships—dreams--opportunities?
Spiritual serenity doesn’t come from calm circumstances, but from observing the ways God has intervened in history on behalf of those who love Him in the midst of chaotic troubles. And, as Jesus commanded the wind and waters to “Be still,” He pleads with us to “let go and let God.”
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