TITLE: Along the Stream is Where I Found Him
By Brenda Bates
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Along the Stream is where I found HIM
By Brenda Bates
I set out for an afternoon walk with no destination in mind just a relaxing walk – just me. It was an average summer day. The weather was warm but not hot; cloudy but no threat of a storm; quiet but not serene. The area was familiar I had walked it many times before but today it seemed…well, it seemed different. Not a threatening different…just not the same. The birds chirped in their usual harmony and I could hear dogs barking in the distance but for the most part it was a quiet and peaceful day.
The sound that drew my attention was that of a stream in the distance. The gentle sound of the water trickling from one rock to the next and every once in a while I could hear a change in the rhythm almost making the change in rhythm a rhythm of its own. The playful sound of the stream became a song without the words, a melody without an instrument and a message without a speaker. I found myself smiling for no reason…or was there?
I continued down the twisted path but at a little faster pace than before, perhaps a sense of anticipation, if you will. The path came to an area that winded around some trees and broken branches that had obviously been there for a while. It was only noticeable because the path was already well defined. The weeds and grass weren’t worn away but they were gently pressed against the earth as if to surrender to the task. I anticipated the changes in direction by the way the sunlight caressed my body. Warmth bounced from one side of my face to the other and I began to consume the heat that it generated. It wasn’t an annoyance but a gentle wisp of a touch and I found myself smiling for no reason…or was there?
There were so many things to see that day for a purpose unknown to me at the time. Everything seemed to come alive. The elements seemed to take on a lifestyle, a breath of their own. The grasses looked greener, the sky looked bluer, the birds chirped sweeter, the ground appeared richer, my weight felt lighter, and the air…well it felt impenetrable yet so soothing. What was so different about today? I had never noticed these things before, at least not this way. I remember seeing beautiful pictures taken by talented artists and photographers of landscapes so detailed that it could take your breath away. This was one of them and all I could think about was, “Why am I in this painting?” I found myself smiling for no reason…or was there?
A quick movement to my left interrupted my dreamlike state and it forced me to look in that direction. Only the brush still moved. What was it? Perhaps a small animal or a little breeze, no I didn’t feel a breeze and I didn’t hear the sound of an animal scurrying away but there was definitely something there just seconds earlier. I continued my journey ever responsive to the beauty that surrounded me. Each step seemed to bring my senses to a whole new level, an unusual energy that drew me closer and closer to the source.
A few steps away from the stream I could see the movement of the water and all the activity that now made me understand the noise so far away. The stream was flowing rapidly but not intimidating. Nearer…closer…I walked right to the edge of the stream as if pulled by a magnetic force. Scared? No, actually I felt very vulnerable and submissive and surrendered to its call. I bent down and felt the water with my hand. Surprisingly it was warm not cold like I had expected and felt an irresistible need to have more. I found myself smiling for no reason…or was there?
I immediately kicked off my sandals and sat down on an oversized rock so that I could dangle my feet in the water. It felt so good, so refreshing, so alive. I put my hands behind me on the rock and leaned back so that I could feel the warmth of the sun shining down on my face. I inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, so slowly that I almost didn’t hear the voice say, “Thank you for coming.” Startled, I looked around, but there was no one there. How could that be? I just heard the words spoken but no one was in sight. I replayed the words in my mind several times, “Thank you for coming…Thank you for coming…Thank you for coming?” I’m sure to a spectator this was comical but to me it was insane. I didn’t know what to do. My first thought was to grab my sandals and leave but strangely enough I didn’t feel endangered and I didn’t feel threatened. I looked around again, more carefully this time, but there was…no one, nothing there.
Once again I leaned back and now felt a leisurely calmness take over my body. When just moments ago I was startled I now felt an overwhelming amount of peace…almost sedated. I could smell the water and its cleanness the grass as if it had been freshly mowed, and the air, yes the air it was indescribable. It smelled like the air after a rain, or the clothes taken off the clothesline when I was a little girl, or perhaps nestling my head into my pillow for the first time after my sheets had just come out of the dryer. “That’s it! No, no it’s not; it’s something like that but not quite.” I wanted to breathe deeper and deeper so that I could take it all in. My eyelids were heavy but I wasn’t sleepy. I just wanted to close my eyes and breathe...breathe deeply…breathe deeper.
The voice was like a whisper but this time I wasn’t startled, I was comforted by the words, “I love our time together don’t You? I love knowing You love me and more than that I love knowing that you love me so much that You were willing to die for me.” All of a sudden I knew the voice; I recognized the whisper of my own words in prayer. I wanted to say more; I needed to say more, to talk to Jesus and to feel His tenderness deep within my soul. I was wrapped in His loving embrace and I didn’t want the moment to ever end. I could feel the tears running down my face but I had no need or desire to brush them away. I didn’t want to open my eyes because I didn’t want to lose sight of the Cross, the Cross that was so vividly displayed in my mind. The photograph of me at the foot of the cross looking up to my Savior and His eyes looking lovingly down at me saying, “For you I gave My life.” emphasis mine (John 3:16-17)
The moment passed or did it stand still? I’m not sure…I didn’t care. But for me it was that one moment…a moment in time when it was just Him and me. The moment I realized that I belong to Him and that He is every part of who I am. In that moment I felt the love that the Bible talks about, the love that the hymns sing about, and the love that goes beyond any earthly explanation or interpretation.
Along that stream, on that summer day I was walking through God’s landscape and He as the artist and me as the subject, I gave myself completely and thoroughly to Him. Along that same stream, on that same summer day I was walking through God’s landscape and He as the artist and the photographer gave me the greatest gift of all…Himself. I found myself smiling and now I know why.
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on Him now while He is near. ~Isaiah 55:6 NIV
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