Happy and Still
We all have a "happy place."
Whether it's the a vacation or a staycation at home on your couch, we all have that place we go. It's a place to retreat and relax.
If you missed last week's post, give it a quick read. Really, I think it's worth the effort. We talked about how we have a tendency to join either Team Spaghetti or Team Waffle with our thoughts and the reasons why we seek time away.
We began to realize a retreat is not just a nice-to-have, it's a necessity.
Happy, Happy, Happy
One of my favorite places to retreat is the mountains.
After an afternoon hike in the mountains, my spontaneous "happy place" was resting in a sling-back chair. My hiking boots off (such a good feeling), a cold grapefruit-flavored La Croix (yes, I use the term "flavored" lightly) in a fun little coozie, and a granola bar in the other hand.
Perched on a bed of gray stones next to a peaceful stream, I was altogether quite content and quite happy.
An early snow covered the peaks surrounding me and I had absolutely no to-do’s.
No errands to run.
No places to be.
No people to see.
No mental tabs open demanding my attention.
It was glorious!
My entertainment consisted of teasing chipmunks with a couple pieces of kettle corn. We would place a few crumbs on the pop-up picnic table and watch as they built up the courage to come snag a bite.
You may be thinking, "Huh. What's so entertaining about that?"
Well, let me just say Alvin and his friends are not near as cute as these chipmunks. They're soooo tiny! Tiny enough to fit in my hand!
But, I'm not brave enough to show you that.
Because of rabies and such. Then, we'd have to go to the doctor and organize a Rabies Awareness 5k Race like Michael Scott...
Remember the scene where he says,
I ate more fettuccini alfredo and drank less water than I have in my entire life. - Michael Scott, The Office
So yeah, the day has been adventurous enough without adding the rabies part to the mix. I'll stick to watching these little creatures.
The warm sun and the sound of the steady stream is tempting me with a nap. So if this post ends abruptly, don't say I didn't warn ya. For a girl who owns the nickname NAPS, it doesn't take much to doze off.
I began to realize in this moment all of our "happy places,” to which we so eagerly retreat, seem to be a place of rest. Our bodies, our minds, our hearts - our souls - crave this.
When we're at rest, we're able to notice things around us - things that we often miss in the oblivion of our busyness and weighty cares.
Maybe we have an inner longing for rest because we have an inner longing to notice God's presence around us.
I never say, "Gosh, I just need to see God for a minute." But, I will sometimes say, "Gosh, I just need to rest for a minute," or "Just give me a minute."
Maybe - just maybe - these are one and the same.
Maybe I see this spot on the creek as a "happy place" because I'm not distracted by my thoughts and able to sit and notice God's presence surrounding me.
Let me tell ya what I mean.
If God reveals His nature to us through His creation - then even this stream reveals His nature. It serves as a reminder of God's constancy. The rhythm of the rush of water over the stones is completely uninterrupted, the stones at rest and the water moving.
Maybe that's what God means when He says,
Be still and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10
Commanded to Stillness
God tells us to be still.
It's not just a word of encouragement - it's a command.
We are commanded to be still.
When the Commander of the army directs his soldiers to be still, it's for a purpose. It may be for their protection, it may be for an opportunity to gather more insight on an approaching enemy target.
But sometimes, we don't give God the same credit.
We may get frustrated with this stillness, because it goes against our natural tendency to keep doing, keep trying, keep working, keep worrying, keep thinking through all of the possible outcomes and spinning ourselves into mental spaghetti or processing through the waffle squares as quickly as possible. (Read last week’s post if you’re thrown by this spaghetti/waffle talk.)
Similar to the troops, we're commanded to be still - to be at rest - because He has purpose for us in this. It's for our good and His glory.
He has placed us where He needs us. Stillness is hard because it's an act of surrender, of trusting He is able to take care of us. It may be for our protection or for deeper insight, preparing us for what's ahead.
He wants us to see something. He wants us to notice His presence.
When I get still, my senses are heightened. Soon, I can hear noises and sounds I didn't hear before, I can see things I didn't notice before. Even when I'm still and enjoying a meal, I taste the flavors more fully than when I hurriedly choke down a few bites on-the-go.
Same is true for our relationship with God. Being still allows me to notice more about Him, savor more of His goodness, but also allows Him to work more powerfully within me.
Living slow gives us the margin to recognize God's hand in our lives. Living slow allows us to see the Commander at work in our lives. And in doing so, helps us see our rightful, humble place in relationship with Him.
And even though the command to be still is simple to say, it's not so simple to practice.
Just for kicks, let's try it. Right here, right where you're at, tell yourself "Be still."
Almost immediately, my shin (that I never think of) itches and my ponytail is suddenly too tight. Being still even for five seconds feels nearly impossible! My body is practically demanding me to move!
Same is true for me spiritually. Sometimes even with my best effort, telling my soul to be still feels more like shopping for a new pair of jeans. The more I think about it, the less likely I am to find it. The more I think about being still, the more frustrated I can become.
I’m still, alright…
Still thinking, still doing, still planning, still worrying, still, still, still...
Remember how we first acknowledged how we need the wisdom to know which thought deserves our attention as well as the grace to practice surrendering this care to God?
Wisdom and grace.
Both of these only come from time in His presence. We ask God to help us. Still these waters for us. Keep our minds stayed on Him.
I'm writing this, not because I've mastered this, but because I, too, need this reminder.
May this scripture challenge us to go forward today focusing only on the day before us, focusing on being still in His presence.
Still my thoughts, still my worries, still my fears.
Still my fretting and my fixing. Still my doing and my be-ing.
Lord, steady our hearts. May You give us wisdom to know how You're leading us and grace to practice surrendering our thoughts and cares to You.
May we be strengthened as we live out the command of stillness. May our joy lead us to greater stillness in His presence. May we rest from seeking a "happy place" of this world and find peace in the “happy place” of being close to Him.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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