“He leads me beside still waters” – Psalm 23:2.
A RECENT REVISIT to a well-loved place of mine in a village called Trebanos (Swansea South Wales UK) was a pressing action I couldn’t resist. This is located on the outskirts of the valleys that eventually lead up to the Brecon Beacons.
It has been 26 years since relocating from this area that I would frequently walk; the canal walks are profoundly calming and the stillness that inhabits the environment is otherworldly. Those were the early years of my conversion, years that I would seek God to be alone and pour out my heart to Him, years that have deeply marked their territory in me that will not fade.
It has hardly changed, like time has stood still, but we change and time moves on at an astounding rate; here time seems suspended with memories that resonate loud and clear, evoking all kinds of emotions.
Everything was alive with the summer air and the invigorating fragrances recalled to mind just like it was in the very early 1990’s. The stillness that pervaded immediately brought to heart the presence of God, just like almost three decades ago; I was met with a sense of Him – “I am here, I am with you” – that even though life deteriorates and loved ones pass on, God is HERE. With Him there is no fading and waning; His faithfulness and everlasting love toward us never weakens. Despite world events escalating to a horrifying degree, God is still reigning; He is sovereign overall and we are very much a part of His purposes that no power shall ever overturn.
Oftentimes the busyness of life clouds these realities, the plethora of activities – the very things we justify as being imperative – that crowd out the still small voice and even interrupt our times alone with God. The effects may not be immediate, but they are sure to catch up and leave behind a trail of chaos, the very aspects that clutter our minds and tangle our souls. We may go through the motions of being a Christian but the very heart is lifeless – and that’s where we have monotony that is sure to stagnate the life God has breathed within us.
There is no wonder as to why we need those frequent moments of still waters that we so often bypass and put off for another time or day.
Trebanos canal waters surely move but at some points they seem as if they’ve come to a complete halt; the pristine, crystal clear reflections give off such an illusion, but fresh waters are surely moving through. There is activity even in stillness. This is a resemblance of the Shepherd’s peace in our minds and hearts; there is activity, but despite the constant forward motion, there is a still-glass reflection of the beauty of God that we’re often unconscious of that others see. It is not ourselves we are projecting but Him.
We all search for that peace and stillness and more often than not we fail in obtaining it until God leads us. “My peace I give unto you”, Christ said. It is His doing. “He leads me beside still waters”, David penned and sung. He is the One that leads and unless He does we only know the kind of peace the world gives that does not satisfy or last. No amount of self analysation will get us there; only God can untangle our souls and breathe restoration.
How many times can we count the never-ending patience of God with us, the constant redirecting us, the pulling back and setting us back on course in His ways of righteousness? Honesty will lose count if we’re true to ourselves.
It is His leading, Him completing the work He has begun in us – and that’s not negating our responsibility to a state of passivity. It was God’s leading; Him putting the desire in me to get up and go for that walk to be alone with Him. Why there; why not in my own home? Why travel miles? Well, one of the reasons was an acute reminder of where I frequently met with God in my early Christian years. Sometimes it is good to return to those times, those locations of where we first knew our love for Him and being with Him. It was a compelling and while I have my legs in good working order, I’ll get there and walk those serene paths, but those promptings are not confined to such locations; they are reminders to be practised wherever we find ourselves and in whatever situation we’re in. It was also a place of renewal, of reaffirmation and loyalty to God that in the next coming years they may speak of greater service to Him and greater impact in this world for His glory.
God visit us with such times of refreshing and renewal that strengthens our love and obedience to Him.
(For more images of walk click here)