As you read these words, I am about half-way through my vacation, taking some time to "catch my breath" and renew my spirit. Each time I have the opportunity to get away for a while, I usually create some kind of "countdown" calendar or clock. I am blessed to have a "smart phone", so it has an app for "days until" which I can use for this exact purpose. It helps me to focus on the time I have until I get to enjoy this much deserved break in the hectic routine of my life. The "expectation" builds as the count gets below 30, but it builds at a frantic pace once it is under 10 days. Have you ever noticed just how much the last 3-4 days just drag on??? Why is that? I think it is kind of like a mother about to give birth - the day is approaching, the expectations are high, the moment of "delivery" is imminent, but the agony of waiting is driving you nuts!
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. (Psalm 23:1-3 MSG)
As you are probably aware, I write these posts about a week in advance. So, in faith, I am going to describe what it is I am expecting from God as I enjoy this time away - the things I know he will "birth" within as this time is afforded to me.
* A connection with my Good Shepherd - not just a passing fling with him, but a deep, intimate reconnection with his heart. As I take time away, one of the main purposes is not only to get away from the constant pressures of everyday life, but to actually get to tap into some special time with Jesus. Now, this doesn't involve a week of meditation or some really spiritual retreat for me. Although these are excellent means of connecting with him, I find some time away with a friend just doing stuff like observing the beauty of the things God has created, enjoying a little deep-gut laughter, and taking an afternoon to just snuggle up with a good book are some of the ways he and I connect. You see, I do connect with him as I observe his handiwork - seeing all the tender care he took to even create the place for the tiniest of seeds to take root in the crags of the rocks. I also connect with him in the times of renewing laughter between good friends. Connecting with the heart of another is just one way God gives us to connect with his heart! Enjoying the peace and quiet of "down-time" is also a way to recharge my resources for the coming months.
* Lush meadows and quiet pools. Lush meadows speak of the tender places God creates in these times - they are places where I connect with the "freshness" of God's provisions. Quiet pools speak of the times of just being able to tune into him without interruption. Now, at first this may not seem like much, but when you go from sun up to sun down, you might just not realize how much you actually are living on the "stale" bread of his provision! It is in the times of enjoying the "freshness" of what he provides where we come away renewed and refreshed for the journey. In the quietness of the pools, reflection is possible. Disturbed waters only lend a distorted reflection at best. Quiet pools lend a more accurate reflection - revealing much about where it is God is at work! We need both - the places of fresh provision and the places of accurate revelation!
* Catching my breath. As I have indicated, we all need times to just "let down" a little and recover from the hectic paces we all keep. Today's demands will only be outdone by tomorrow's, so every chance to catch one's breath is relished! Did you ever wonder about the nine months a baby is in the mother's womb "not" breathing? All of a sudden, this tiny newborn is burst into the world, completely content to "take" without having to expend any energy of its own. Now, without warning, he has to take in his first breath, and another, and another. No longer able to "take", he must actually begin to "work" at the living. I kind of think life is much like that for us all - we have to be about the "work" of living each and every day - almost not noticing any longer how much we are tiring in the process. The newborn does some great work in those first few hours of life - no wonder he needs to sleep so much! He needs time to "catch his breath". My friends - we do, too! We just don't realize it because we have become accustomed to "doing the work" of living - not even recognizing when our resources are running low. What does catching one's breath do - it recharges and refuels us. As a baby rests between his learning activities of new life outside the womb, we also need these "breath catching" times of rest between the "learning activities" of this life we lead.
* Sent in the right direction. I have been considering a thought for a couple of days now which may not be profound, but I think it is worth sharing. If we aim at nothing, we will achieve nothing. Direction is all about aim. Aim at something and you are likely to at least "graze" it! Aim at nothing and you will actually hit something, but it may be far from what you wanted to hit! God gives us times of renewal because we often need to evaluate our "target". I may never know the thousands who have been touched by this blog, but I know my aim! There is nothing more fulfilling to the soul, uplifting to the spirit, and renewing to the mind than to be set in the right direction.
I don't know when your next "break" will come, but when it does, keep these things in mind. You might just find your "break" becomes a time of refreshing beyond your imagining - preparing you well in advance for the next greatest aim you are to take in life! Just sayin!