Originally punlished on May 22, 2020
Out of the Woods
I looked at the time and realized that I was already 20 minutes late for lunch. I certainly didn’t want to miss a meal, so I picked up my things and started trucking it through the woods. My need to find the perfect spot for quiet time had brought me a little off the beaten path, and while off the beaten path is often where we see and hear God more clearly, I had somehow taken a wrong turn. The main trail is not clearly marked, but I just thought eventually one of those trails would lead me back. I thought I had a good sense of where the lake was…apparently not. After going in circles a few times and coming to some dead ends, animal poo and a deer stand, I knew I wasn’t in Tall Timbers anymore. As I resorted to calling a friend, I pulled out my phone and looked at the glaring warning “low battery”. I quickly dial Ann’s number, “My phone is about to go dead, and I’m lost in the woods”…
To some of you TBC ladies, this story sounds familiar; we were at our 2011 Women’s Retreat at Tall Timbers. Quiet time with God is one of my very favorite times. As I said, I wanted to find the perfect spot out in the woods, alone in nature, to hear from God. I tried a couple of spots, veered from the trail, my feet began to sink…this is not where God was telling me to go. I don’t often hear an audible voice of God talking to me, but I remember this exchange and later wrote it in my journal:
Me: God, what do you want me to do?
God: Just sit right here.
God: You know you can hear from me anywhere?
Me: I just want to see what’s up the trail, what’s ahead, what’s to come? Is it better?
God: Just be still and know that I am God!
Me: Yea, be still…if I could just find that perfect spot… a little farther. If I don’t find the spot, I’ll run out of quiet time!
God: I said, you can hear from me anytime and anywhere. Just sit.
As I sat down, I looked to my left, and there on the trail were a couple of Carolina Jasmine flower petals just like the one’s in my yard at home. It was something I identify with. I looked around and didn’t see the a vine.
Me: God, did you drop these here?
It was as if God was saying, “I know you, and I long for you to be still and know Me.”
He knows me…Psalm 139:1-7 says
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from you Spirit? Where can I flee for your presence?
So often I want to wait for the perfect or right time or right conditions to hear from God, to speak to God, or to do what God wants me to do. I just want to know what’s ahead, what’s to come, what should I do? Are you the same? Do you wait until the kids are in bed or until you’ve had your coffee in the morning, when you’re sitting in “your chair”, or when you finally get a day off or time away at a retreat to finally hear from God? That perfect time or place doesn’t exist or matter. God will meet us where we are if we take the time to be still and be with him no matter when or where we are. I am learning to LISTEN to Him in the midst of a world, and sometimes my own mind, that tries to drown Him out. I want to soak Him in, be lavished with His grace and His love, and I want others to see His love flow out of me…because of His son, but I can’t do this without being still or letting go of control. Although it’s a constant struggle to fight the earthly distractions that bombard my life, during that quiet time I declared once again as I continually do today that I am a child of God and He is in charge of my life.
During the past months, some of you have had rest and renewal and experienced that “perfect” time with God, while others have been in the midst of struggle, tragedy or isolation, and still others too busy working, serving and keeping up to know what day it is. But we all have one thing in common. As we emerge from this time, it is my prayer that you would always be in communion with God and know that He is always with you wherever you are. Just reach out to Him…in the midst of the fight with your spouse, as you’re playing with your kids (or after fussing at them), while cooking supper, in a meeting at work, when you get that promotion or the lose your job. Bring it all to Him in the moment. And when you get lost trying to find Him, sometimes you need to phone a friend and reach out for help.
I eventually made my way to a clearing in the woods that lead me to a road where my friends came through for me. Ann and Stacy came driving to pick me up, while Cristy saved me a lunch. God only knows how they found me.