He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
In his book, Soul Keeping, John Ortberg quotes Dallas Willard as saying, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Well, hurry had ruthlessly been eliminated from my life for the last couple weeks–but not intentionally by me. While away on holidays, I had come down with pneumonia. Now I was finally on antibiotics but could do little more than go outside, sit on my deck, read, and rest.
On this particular morning, I was feeling pretty sad, mostly because neither my son, nor my brother, had bothered to check in on me for two days. I was thinking that they knew I was sick and they couldn’t even text to see how I was doing. I mean, how busy could my son be, that he couldn’t spare a few minutes to call his mother? I felt a little abandoned and a lot sorry for myself.
Just then I got a text from my son, asking how I was and apologizing for not being in touch sooner. My spirits lifted and I realized how much importance I had put in hearing from him, knowing that he cared–even if it was by text!
Suddenly I was reminded, no doubt by the Holy Spirit, that the things that break my heart also break my Heavenly Father’s heart. I was lamenting because I hadn’t heard from my son for two days, but how many days had it been since my Father had heard from me? Really heard from me; not just a quick thank you, or a fast request for some intervention please? When was the last time I had slowed down enough to have a real heart-to-heart conversation, a soul-to-soul connection with God? I began to weep, realizing that I had no doubt broken my Father’s heart many times by my inattentiveness, or by refusing to slow the busyness of my life in order to connect with the one Person who loved me more than anyone else possibly could.
In Soul Keeping, John Ortberg again quotes Dallas Willard, who says “Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every area of our life.” And we are the keepers of our own stream/soul, according to Ortberg.
What was the condition of my stream/soul at that moment? I could now see that it was slightly stagnant, beginning to get murky with the detritus of everyday cares, worries, busyness, and things of little eternal value. The keeper of my stream (me) had been paying more attention to the things of this world, than the life giving stream of my soul. And worse, I was breaking my Father’s heart with the very things that broke mine–neglect, thoughtlessness, selfishness.
Acknowledging this, I immediately sensed a change in the flow of my stream. I realized my lack of care for my soul, wept tears of sorrow and repentance, and felt the warmth of being close to my Father once again. He was also beside me, helping to clean up the stream of my soul and get it flowing in the right direction–towards him.
Prayer: Father God, forgive me when I choose the hurried pace of this world over spending time with you. Thank you for reminding me, ever so gently, that the way to keep my soul moving in the right direction is to be willing to be still before you and allow myself to be open to the kind and loving reminders you offer me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Willing by Carolyn Arends
You might enjoy having the words up at the same time, as this is not a familiar song to most people. Willing lyrics
Contributed by Nikki Stuart