” I love you, O LORD, my strength…In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters…You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light… You armed me with strength for battle…(Psalm 18:1,6,16,28,39a).”
Yesterday was my birthday, and I had the day off. In the afternoon, I was scheduled to take my car in for repair. However, a part was on order, so I had the afternoon free.
I decided to go for a drive. It was a beautiful, warm autumn day and I wanted to see some colors from the surrounding mountains. In addition, I wanted to think.
As I drove to the parkway, I noticed a sign that said “prayer”. I made a note of that and hoped to do a loop and return the site.
I began to feel a little guilty because the entrance to the parkway was farther away than I expected. I was burning expensive gasoline and was worried about the expense.
However, I felt the need to keep going. With all that had been going on in my life of late, I really thought I required some time in nature to think before my work kicked in again the next day.
The drive was beautiful, as I expected. On the other hand, my brain was locked. I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together. Even at an overlook, viewing a gorgeous valley with rolling hills, my mind couldn’t get in gear.
I left the parkway and took a long four lane highway through the country back to the main interstate. Finally, I came upon the exit which had the place of prayer I had seen at the beginning.
The site is the side yard of a private residence. In the yard is an open air tent and some chairs to sit in. I had read about this place in the local newspaper in the past several months, but I didn’t know this was that spot until I saw the tent.
As I got out of my car I was greeted by a loose, big black dog who came up to me in a threatening manner. I didn’t care. I was determined to pray.
I went and found a chair under the tent and sat there. I leaned over, closed my eyes, and talked to God.
I told him that my recent burdens were too much to bear. I named them and asked Him to take them over.
I probably spent about 5 minutes under that tent. Then I got in my car and left.
As I drove I didn’t feel any better emotionally. My problems began to attach themselves to my brain again.
Then a thought crept into my foggy mind. I had left those burdens back under the tent.
It was therapeutic to think I had a physical location where I had left my problems. I pictured God under that tent, like a carpenter in a workshop, working on those problems for me. The image gave me rest.
When I got home, I was hit with more bad news. I thought,”When will this ever end?” Then I remembered that my problems, even the new ones, were back unde that tent in God’s care.
I went to sleep. My wife awoke me to tell me some better news about the new problem. I slept even better.
Before I went to bed, I had talked to my pastor. He asked me if I had been attending a men’s meeting I had committed to which is held at 6 am every week. I told him that, no, with everything going on, I had not.
He encouraged me to go the next morning because he felt it provided a good context for me.
I didn’t commit, but I got up this morning and went. My pastor is a loving, yet firm man and I take his instructions seriously. The wise man of Proverbs says its beneficial to listen to, accept and obey instruction, so what else could I do (Proverbs 19:16,20).
I questioned whether or not I had the strength to keep this commitment over the long term. However, I learned yesterday that God is my strength.
As I walked out of that men’s meeting into the cool morning, I looked up. In the sky was a long jet stream. Furthermore, there were other planes streaking through the sky leaving more of them. It was a beautiful sight.
I thought of the saying,”How can I soar with eagles when I work with turkeys?” It just was some random, humourous thought.
However, upon reflection, I understand that the strength for me to fly in life despite the weight of my problems comes from God. Walking together with wise men, even if it means getting up at 5 am to meet with them, will lift me higher also.