Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
If you’re familiar with the song ‘You Raise Me Up’ you might recognize these lyrics:
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be…
I realized the other day that this is precisely how I’ve been feeling. Not exactly anxious, not exactly depressed, but weary and burdened. It’s been a long year in which there was an abundance of troubles, from the biggest, major world-wide kind to the little pesky annoyances kind. Of course, there were still all the regular ‘this is just life’ kind as well. I spent a good amount of time identifying them, casting my cares on Jesus, and laying them down at the cross. The 40 Days of Prayer study was very helpful in reminding me to keep in constant contact with the loving Father who tells us ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God...’ (Philippians 4:6)
Still, at some point, especially in the last few weeks, the burdens felt a bit more like the Space Invaders video game where you shoot at an overwhelming hoard of spaceships and they JUST KEEP COMING. The promise in the second half of the verse above has seemed illusive: ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:7)
If you’ve being feeling this, you are not alone.
And, I realize, my troubles are ‘light and momentary burdens’ compared with the stress that Jesus and his apostles faced, and the prophets before them. And what did those spiritual warriors do when they were pressed hard? They went for R&R: refreshing and renewal. What is needed is a spiritual vacation. You may have heard of people ‘going to their happy place’ or entering their ‘mind palace.’ Well, these ideas have their roots in the prayer and meditation that Yahweh instituted since the beginning of time.
I suspect spiritual R&R will require more than reading a chapter or two in the Bible or a few devotionals, but hey, that’s a start. I suspect intentional prayer, fasting and meditating on a passage of scripture, taking notes, asking questions and cross-referencing would be helpful too. These are like our Spiritual Spa Treatments.
Here are the passages I was meditating on when I drew and painted the above illustration. I think they’re good destinations for a Spiritual vacation.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
4 One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
And of course, Psalm 1 above.
I pray that we can all find some peace, some relief, some refreshing and renewal sitting at Jesus’ feet for a little while even though there are many things to do, even though the enemy is prowling around us, even though in this world there is trouble. Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world! Bon voyage.