As I look ahead, these next weeks weigh heavily upon me. They will be filled with travel. Yes, I will see dear people that I love. But there will be meetings. Debates. And more meetings. Concerns about church and care for sheep burden me. Then a long, long flight to follow. Messages to preach.
I confess I lack the strength for it all. My body, along with my dear wife, has been telling me for a while that I am weary. A lab report concurred. Anemia? Me? Finally, I stopped resisting and agree. Extra rest, quiet walks with my love by my side, and vitamins have already helped.
I am thankful too for this gentlest of summer Sabbath morns. The whir of hummingbird wings near my porch chair contrasts distinctly with the pileated’s thumping on the old oak up front. The dawn’s soft rays make the woods appear to come slowly to life, as if preparing to obey the psalmist and sing for joy. Indeed, they do, as cardinal and titmouse and robin and chickadee and wren harmonize from their branches. Like Eden’s cooling breeze, the morning air refreshes my face.
Yet that little cup that is my mind overflows with thoughts and, here again I confess, the worries of it all. I need more than this taste of creative glory.
The Lord of the Sabbath knows this of me. He sees that my heart is tumultuous, too much like the whirling dark clouds, blustery winds, and beating rains of a June storm. So he speaks, and, like the sudden quiet of stopping under a bridge in a summer downpour, he stills my soul.
Words of Scripture, too long dormant in my reading, respond to the Spirit, leaping to life and encouraging my thirsty heart. Love and goodness all my life will follow me, taking me to his eternal dwelling, he says. He tells me through Ezekiel that he is a sanctuary to his people. Later that day, I will hear with the congregation, both morning and evening, preachers faithfully telling me of my sin, leading me to confess, and helping me set my eyes again on heaven’s glory come to earth. How wondrous to experience that Christ is, and has become again, my sanctuary.
I am quiet now. That peace of his that you cannot understand but cannot live without has come. I praise him, then rise, grateful that his soul-strengthening presence goes with me wherever I go.