Another look back at 2017
When is the last time that you stopped and watched a tiny pebble drop into a pond? What about a single drop of water meeting the surface of a tub of still water? Stopping to watch and take time. Something of which I am lacking, or shall I say was lacking until a few days ago. In all actuality it has been there all along, I just failed to grasp the importance of carving out time in a day for the practice. No, not yoga or Zumba or some other form of workout. No, not some other scheduled program or team activity. Time to be still.
Last week, after having spent months of feeling poured out and dry, I attended a retreat for women in ministry. Designed with the purpose of refreshing the spirit, I drove to the country, anticipating an assortment of great speakers and good food. Never did I expect that the most considerable refreshment would come from stillness and solitude, not the scheduled events of the day.
I’ve learned over the years that there are two types of women. One who loves the beach. She finds refreshment as she snuggles her toes in the sand and listens to the waves washing upon the shore. The mist of the crashing waves and a breeze cascading over her is often the very water needed by her soul. This is not my kind of refreshment. I’m a county girl. I love the rolling hills adorned by cows, trees looming over the pastures, sweet walking paths wandering in and out of the woods, still lakes, and joy-filled bubbling streams. This is exactly where God was sending me.
Upon my arrival at “The Country Place,” the charm of a rustic chapel a red barn, a gorgeous rustic inn, and a pasture dotted with cows took my breath away. This was my kind of place. Eagerly I parked and sought to check in quickly. Certainly, there would be things to do! However, God had different plans for my refreshment.
My room was breathtakingly simply. Beautiful, warm, and inviting. A place where I could most certainly be comfortable. On the bed was a happy bag filled with promotional materials about ministries and a schedule of events. Something was missing…over scheduling. There were gaps of several hours with no direction other than to relax and refresh. While this concept was appealing in my mind, my heart continued to race, and I struggled to relax. What on earth was resting and refreshing truly all about? God whispered, “Be Still.”
It seemed as if it took forever for dinner time to arrive. Unpacking happened as did quite simply trying to figure out what to do next. I toured the grounds briefly, took photos of the beautiful surroundings, and continued to feel like I should be rushing to some event that didn’t exist. Again God whispered, “Be Still.”
Finally, it became time for our evening session to begin at the chapel filled with worship songs and a guest speaker. I rushed my way to the chapel. Certainly, I did not want to be tardy. I’m all for being early for appointments and meetings. The sweet, rustic chapel was beautiful. I certainly did not have time for intimate observation. I needed to get into the building and find me a seat. Then check the schedule repeatedly, prepare my notebook and pen for the profound message that I was certain would be delivered and then move on to the next event.
Worship began, and it was good. Beautiful songs, and a talented leader. Then the speaker approached the platform. She was a beautiful woman of deep brown skin tone, wearing the most beautiful skirt-suit of bright yellow. She began to speak, and I knew that this would be a great message. Little did I know that this message would be one which God prepared intentionally for me. She spoke of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace during the recent loss of her mother. I certainly could relate as Dad had passed just a few months earlier as well. She spoke of being strong. Being the “go to” person for everyone, and I continued to relate. And then at some moment in time, I honestly will never know the exact thought or word that brought it about; I began to sob uncontrollably. Addressing emotions and deeply held hurts that had never been recognized following Dad’s passing. My tears dripping from my face and staining the smooth concrete floor of the chapel. A piece of myself was forever becoming a part of that sweet chapel foundation.
It was then it began to happen…stillness. I started to realize that all of the months of racing from one appointment to another and preparing one event after the other was serving to keep me from stillness. It was serving to keep me busy. Avoiding stillness was a way to avoid facing what God knew was deep within my soul. Hurt, frustration, confusion, compassion, and a multitude more emotions poured out from my soul; cleansed by the tears that poured out. Healing, refreshing tears.
The next day I began to discover a new need. A need to be still. God had been whispering His message to me for some time now, and I continued to avoid it until this day. Our event leader charged us to find a quiet, comfortable place within the chapel where we…where I could be still, quiet, and reflect on the still quiet voice of God. Armed with my journal, I found my way to the gorgeous doors of the chapel, rested my head on the beautiful whitewashed trim of those floor to ceiling portals to my happy place, and gazed upon the rolling green fields. I watched the cows ever so calmly grazing. They were still. Content with all that was around them. Not a one appeared rushed or distraught. They all knew their every need would be met.
It was then that God began to speak to me. His gentle voice giving me peace, direction, and joy. For the first time in months, I was still. For the first time in months, maybe even years, He spoke so lovingly to my heart. He ignited a yearning for me to get alone with Him in solitude.
After lunch that day, I made my way to the most beautiful pond. Surrounded by trees, flowering bushes, and stunning wooden bridges, I stood upon the pond bank and was still. The noise of the young tadpoles swimming and coming up for air, the scurry of squirrels, and the songs of birds surrounded me at the pond. Then, God provided me with an image that I will never forget. Something small, like a tiny pebble, dropped into the pond and created ripples. At that moment, months of contemplation regarding my ministry became crystal clear. There in the stillness and the calm God spoke to my heart.
As a pebble drops in the pond, ripples grow. That single pebble’s reach is far greater than one could ever image; impacting and changing all that is surrounding it forever. It was then that the message was clear. Like a pebble in this great pond of life, God dropped me in to make ripples…ripples of change that would touch all that surrounds me forever, all for His glory.
Praise God that I didn’t miss His call to “be still.” Praise Him that I didn’t miss the opportunity to empty myself of my hurt, my heartache…myself. For had I not been empty, I would have missed how important this tiny little pebble can be in this pond of life. Drop me in Lord, and let me change all that surrounds me for You.