(Editor’s note: This is a continuation of Mike’s blog post written on July 17, 2017)
I did it! I got away for the weekend.
We packed up the RV and headed for the local mountains. Originally we were to be joined by various family members. Earlier this year everyone said “let’s go camping this summer” and it fell on me to make it happen. After working with everyone’s schedules for weeks we finally booked a couple sites next to each other. Finally a date was locked in and then…one by one…everyone dropped out.
And it worked out perfectly.
I needed a break and bad – the conflict I was feeling and the battle raging all around me was getting to me.
It was Friday morning when I wrote my previous blog, wrestling with the conflict during my devotions. I was feeling the angst of recognizing the awareness of the battles, the heaviness of it all, and a lack of strength or willingness to engage. There was a thickness that was almost choking.
It was so tempting to just turn my head and face the sunshine, to close my eyes and pretend. I was relishing the fantasy of Psalm 23:2 – thinking, please God, lead me to the still waters. Let me lie down in the green pasture and just rest. I don’t want to think about all the suffering, the evil, the battles. I want to lay there and feel the sunshine on my face.
We had campsite reservations for that Friday and Saturday night. I wasn’t sure we’d be going but after feeling the weight from the morning I ended my writing with the answer: Do what I have been trained to do…get away and spend some time with God in solitude.
I finished a few tasks in the office and told my wife I be home early. Let’s go camping anyway, just the two of us. We threw some things together and couldn’t leave fast enough.
It is Saturday night. We are supposed to leave the campground in the morning but I’m not feeling it. Could we stay an extra night?
I had enjoyed no quiet time with God yet. I had tried to relax but wasn’t feeling rested. I was not ready to go home yet. My Monday morning schedule was open so I made a spontaneous decision…if the spot was available we’d stay another night.
Next morning – Bingo! Gift number one – the spot was available. I immediately felt better and more relaxed just knowing we had a whole extra day and night.
After breakfast I told my wife I wanted to sit outside, read my bible and “get away with God” for a bit. She is supportive and calls my involvement with The Leadership Institute my “go be quiet with God group.” She wanted to sew and read anyway so we sat outside the motorhome on some banana chairs.
Gift number two – it is late Sunday morning and the campground is virtually vacant. There is no one around. It is quiet and peaceful and , now, I’m beginning to feel it.
As I sat there, soaking in the sunshine, I looked up from my bible and realized gift number three – I’m looking through the forest at a small pond…still waters…and the sun is shining on my face.
I became aware of Psalm 23 again: He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.
What? It really happens this way? No way!
The actual verse I was longing to experience came to pass. I was relaxed, peaceful, even refreshed.
It was like all the stuff and stress and yuck of life was melting away from me. The heaviness was leaving. My perspective on the darkness and battles raging around me changed. The darkness faded away. The battles faded away. I was experiencing restoration.
So another gift – restoration! I felt like a child of God, not a man trying to be good and righteous, reaching for God and failing. No, rather God was reaching for me gifting me with an inherent sense of being. It was wonderful.
And the by-product? My faith increased. I could sense that too. I felt stronger, less worried. I was now ready to go home. Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our long weekend. It was necessary for us. And God delivered good gifts to his children just when they needed it.
But He was not done. This was in preparation for something neither of us could imagine. The story continues next time…