I was attending a silent retreat. While I was not speaking, things were far from silent. Sitting in the morning sunshine I was serenaded by the songs of various birds. Some I would have noticed before, but there are many I would have missed amid the sounds of human voices.
Even though I was not speaking aloud, the voices in my head continued. Random thoughts appear in my conscious mind, taking me back to the busy life I’d left behind. It was during these times that I realized how difficult it is to focus on only the present.
I gazed over an expanse of lawn, framed by towering evergreens. Off to one side, a river wound its way lazily through the property. I was surrounded by the beauty and majesty that God had created. In my mind, I heard the words “be still and know that I am God”.
It is in the stillness that God’s message for me becomes clear. For only when I block out the distractions of the world am I truly able to focus on the loving relationship that my Heavenly Father longs to have with me. There is peace, stillness for my mind and renewal for my soul to be found in the silence.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV
This is found in my book Inspirations From the Everyday. This past weekend I once again attended this silent retreat and had the same profund experience.
As a child, I loved to play outside with my friends. One of our favourite games was tag.
I would run and dodge, doing my best not to get caught. If tagged, I would become ‘it’ and have to chase the others until I got close enough to ‘catch’ someone.
It’s been a long time but I can still remember getting tired and needing a quick break to catch my breath. The only way to do this was to run to the willow tree in the front yard and have one hand touching the trunk. This was the designated safety zone.
The rules said I could only stop here for a few seconds, but that was enough to take some deep breaths in preparation for more running.
All these years later, I no longer play tag, but can still find myself running around and in need of a safe place to pause and regain my strength. Where can I find the renewal so badly needed?
My safety zone is found in the quiet time I spend with God. Rules of time don’t apply here. He provides me with what I need whether I ask a quick prayer for wisdom or spend extended time basking in his presence. However, the more time I spend with him, the more I find the rest, guidance and encouragement needed to step back into the race of life.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)
March 20th is officially the first day of spring. After a long, cold winter, spring is looked forward to as a time of new beginnings.
The hours of daylight lengthen and the temperature starts to rise. Soon green shoots will push their way through the ground with the promise of flowers to follow. Bare branches will bud and the trees will once again be dressed in their coats of green.
Vegetation which has been dormant for months begins its renewal. This is a time of hope and promise.
Patience is required as I wait for the signs of new growth to come. A date on the calendar doesn’t actually herald a change in the weather.
According to the dictionary, renewal has more than one meaning. It can be the resuming of an activity or state after an interruption. This is the renewal we see in our surroundings in spring.
The other meaning is the repair of something that is worn-out, run-down or broken. This is the renewal I have experienced in my own life.
When I was weary and broken I brought my life before the Lord. He gave me a fresh, new start. There was no need to wait for a specific date on the calendar. God has taken a dormant life and renewed it. His mercies are new every morning and my relationship with him is filled with new beginnings.
“The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7 NLT)