I sit on the banks of Watauga River, reposing on a very old quilt. It is early morning, but the sky is dark and foreboding, hinting at storms ahead. The water trickles over stones at an ever increasing pace that is soothing and refreshing to hear. The tranquility of the moment would be complete only if the gnats and mosquitos of unusually large size would leave me alone.
I’m in Valle Crucis, the loveliest of places in these mountains. Its name is apt for my morning–it means Valley of the Cross. I’m here to be alone with Jesus and sit at His feet. When I woke up, I put on a dress and wore perfume just for Him.
It has begun to rain, but beneath this tall oak with its willowing branches thick with leaves, I am safe and dry. An elder gentlemen passes by, binoculars and safari hat in hand. He is lost to the world, scouring the fields and trees for birds, unaware of the gentle rain or of the girl sitting beside the stream watching him in fascination.
It’s necessary at times to find a respite for your soul amidst the chaos of life. It’s necessary to bring everything before the Lord and have time to think, process, pray, write, and sing. Your vision gets blurry and your clarity gets lost. It’s easy to forget what really matters. We get so caught up trying to figure out who we are that we lose sight of whose we are.
I saved all my bulletins from Capitol Hill Baptist Church this summer because a friend told me how he would read through the hymns throughout the week and drink in the rich theology. I haven’t done so in a while, but it is true that there is an absolute feast of sound doctrine to be found in the lyrics of the old hymnists.
I found this treasure this morning:
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
[God Moves in a Mysterious Way, William Cowper, 1731-1800]
When I lived at home in Cary, I would trek to the Dragon Park to sit beneath the vine canopy with my bagel and coffee from Panera and pour out my heart to the Lord. I’m older now, but I still so desperately need those sweet, uninterrupted times with Jesus. I need fresh courage for the year ahead. I need wisdom for decisions that must be made. I need to be reminded of the Cross and that I must die daily to follow Christ.
I wade across the stream, clutching at the folds of my dress to keep it from getting wet and teetering dangerously as I struggle to keep my balance on the rocky bottom. There are excellent smooth, flat pebbles to skip, which I do happily (though not too successfully) for 10 minutes or so. I scramble back onto the rocky shore and sit on my quilt once more. I ignore the score of red welts forming on my legs from those pesky mosquitos. I open my Bible, sip my coffee, and pray Jesus would come sit with me today.