Peace like a river
It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to write my column in a tranquil setting like a cabin at a lake. This summer our family has been focusing on the importance of rest and quietness. In a culture that seems to be increasing in busyness, learning what it means to be still and know that the Lord is good is very important.
Each of us could probably share stories of being busy. Lately, I’ve noticed that when people ask me how I’m doing, I quickly respond by saying “I’m busy but life is great!” Upon reflection, I ask myself, “What does that even mean?” Maybe I’m too busy to give a more thoughtful response. Am I in touch with my emotions and the things that may be weighing me down?
This summer, therefore, on our two-week vacation I decided that I needed to slow right down, unplug from technology and search my heart. The biggest question I really needed to ask myself was whether or not I was delighting in the Lord. This didn’t happen right away, to be honest. At first I lay on the beach, built sand castles and swam with my daughter, slowed right down to a turtle’s speed. It was good. It was good for me not to have a schedule – good for my heart, mind and body.
We decided that this year we would check out the small church in the lake community. Because I am a pastor, often when we are on vacation we take the opportunity to do a family service together, but this year we felt compelled to visit this small church. We expected maybe a dozen or so people, but the church was packed. And the visiting preacher spoke on delighting in the Lord. How significant! It was as if he were speaking straight to my soul. Peace began to claim my body, and though I had rested physically throughout the week at the lake, this was a spiritual and emotional peace. I began to realize that in the busyness of ministry, I had not been taking time to rest, to delight spiritually in the Lord. This happens gradually too. It wasn’t like I decided one day to turn my gaze away from the Lord; it’s more like a slow movement of taking delight in man-made things. Instead of spending more time with the Lord I was taking less time.
How good it is when the Lord shows us the affections of our heart. The kindness of how this was revealed to me was even more significant. I love being by water and amongst the quietness of nature. It brings me absolute joy. God, in his loving kindness, revealed this to me here at the lake instead of in the city. I’m in awe of the Lord’s goodness! I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
The next day it rained. Instead of grumbling about it, I realized it was a metaphor for God washing and renewing my spirit. When my eyes are fixed on him and I am delighting in the Lord’s ways, my spiritual eyes see more clearly. I am more at peace.
That answers the question “How are you?” I hadn’t been delighting in the Lord, but that sin has been forgiven and I am refreshed. I feel renewed and recharged. More time in the Lord’s presence is where I will find true rest for my soul.