Today I drive down from the mountain. I was able to go to my favorite retreat place for a couple of nights. I’ve written before about the importance of taking time away. This time, I had two goals in mind – rest and preaching plans. Of course I wanted to hike and read and dream and plan… I wanted to do all the things without all the time I really need to do them. But mostly, I needed rest.
I’ve been tired. It has been a hard season of ministry. I have certainly felt a sense of God’s presence with me, God’s wisdom guiding me. I have felt that I am in the right place at the right time. And it has been hard. Pair that with active middle school kids, Bill’s return to every weekend travel, and a wedding to help plan (the oldest is getting married!), and the last 3 months have taken a physical toll. And I’m tired. Although I had originally planned this time away primarily for worship/preaching planning, rest became the real need.
When I arrived, I got the best hug from Cecelia (the primary caretaker and host), then got settled into my cabin and immediately napped. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep at all. Then a good meal and good conversation led to a great night of sleep. The next morning I was up earlier than I hoped to be and after a couple of hours of reading I napped again. I finally had energy for a walk in the woods.
Time in the woods is always healing for me. I took a familiar path down the trail, off the trail, and by the stream. This time I saw something new. I saw ice growing from the ground. Small, delicate structures of ice rising from the earth, formed from saturated soil and an overnight freeze.
After I marveled at the beauty of creation, I sat on a rock jutting out into the stream, taking time to quiet my soul and listen. It was here that I heard the hard, yet comforting message for my soul. You see, this stream is nothing major. I’m not even sure it has a name. It shows up on the map if you keep zooming in, but from a distance, you wouldn’t see it noted at all. And yet this stream has been here, steady, constant, providing nourishment and beauty for the environment around it and for those who know it is here. This stream, relatively unknown as it may be, is vital in this place. Its steady presence makes a difference right where it is.
These two lessons are profound for me today – the small unexpected beauty and the impact of a small unknown stream. I often have grand dreams of becoming “somebody important” and having a larger “stage” of influence and impact. And yet sitting on that rock, seeing those small ice structures, God was whispering to me – “You will not be well known or on the map. But for those who know you, for the environment I have placed you in, your steady presence brings nourishment and beauty. You are a constant for them and although it seems slow, your impact is lasting. And if you take the time to actually pay attention and look, you will see the small unexpected beauty that grows up around you.”
Thank you God. Thank you for that perspective shift. Thank you for that humble reminder to be present where I am. Thank you.
So, I drive down the mountain today, rested and refreshed, with a new perspective to encourage me in the season ahead. (And I did finish a book and get some sermon planning done too.)
What has God been teaching you lately?