I went on a solo retreat about a month ago. I went to quiet my thoughts, stop white-knuckling my plans, and lay it all before the Lord. I wrestled. I put things down to pick them right back up, and then put them down again. But God is good, loving, and patient.
The place I stayed was pretty scenic. It was a cozy house tucked in a wooded area. Surrounding the property was a small brook, so one afternoon I decided to take a walk and try out a practice I had learned this summer. I purposefully slowed down my breathing and asked the Lord to draw my attention to something in nature. Naturally, my “let’s do this” attitude kicked in and I tried to focus on the first thing I saw, some bees buzzing on a nearby flower. But I couldn’t stay focused and the sound of the brook seemed to grow louder than everything else. So, I walked over and took a seat in the chair by the water. God lovingly taught me a few things as I watched the water.
The place where I was sitting was in the middle of a horseshoe bend in the brook. On the left was a rapids, the water rushing over the rocks. In the middle, the water was calm and hardly looked like it was moving. If I looked closely, I could see bits of leaves in the current below the surface. And when I threw a stick in the water, it got swept away. On the other side of the bend, the water shifted to rapids again, clearly showing the force of the current.
I had felt the rapids in my life. I had lived in the excitement of seeing God move in big ways and felt a part of his sweeping current. But for the past couple of months, I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t make sense of what God was doing and I felt lost without that feeling of movement. Through the bend in the brook, God reminded me that He is always moving, even when I can’t perceive it. Life isn’t always a rapids and it isn’t always a calm bend, but the current of His love and will is always there, working things for our good and His glory. He invited me to trust that truth.
Next, I walked to a different spot in the brook. There was a large rock, so I sat on top and put my hand in the water. The water was cool, calm, and clear. It was inviting and if it were warmer, I could sit there for a long time with my feet in the water. About ten feet away was a pond with a fountain. The fountain was pretty but the pond was green with algae and gave off that smell of stagnant water. The fountain was pretty, but I didn’t feel the need to get any closer to that water. Through the contrast of the brook and the pond, God taught me that being still is not being stagnant. He invites me to be refreshed by Him. He wants me to have rhythms of rest where I plug into Him. Because when I stay refreshed by staying in the moving, Living Water, my life reflects Him and becomes inviting to others.
As I sat on the rock, I closed my eyes and listened to the brook. I was closer to the road so the sound of cars almost overpowered the gentle babble. But if I listened for the water, I could hear it. God reminded me that He will be found by those who seek Him (Jer. 29:13). God doesn’t hide from us. He’s always there, waiting for us to turn my attention toward Him.
I’m thankful for a God who is always moving with love and purpose, always refreshing, always inviting, and always ready to be found by His children.