A Place of Rest

Verna and I snuck away last Wednesday to enjoy a long weekend in the mountains of North Carolina. We've been going to the same place for ten years. It holds years of memories for us. It has become a place of rest for us. While we missed the 'peak' of the fall colors (by one weekend) we caught the tail end with all it's beauty. One of the traditions I enjoy is to 'live' in one passage for the days we're away. I use the extended time to invite the words to soak more deeply, to reflect on my spiritual journey and then journal my responses. It's always a rich time.

You may want to open your Bible to Psalm 23 and join me. Here are a few exerpts from my journal.

Psalm 23:1-3..

Father the relationship you invite me to enjoy with you is attractive. Safety. Security. Rest. Refreshment. Direction. There is a close and comfortable ease in trusting you. I want to live here. My insecurities, weakness, weariness, fear and lack of direction all expose the distance I've learned to live with in our relationship. But you know my heart. You also know the steps I've taken in recent years to care for my soul. Allow me to live in this place of complete and comforatble dependence in you - for everything.

Psalm 23:4...

Father when life and leadership is difficult - and they often feel difficult - like a dark valley that takes more life than it gives...keep me aware of your presence with me. Sometimes your presence is the gentle word that reminds me you are close by (a staff). Sometimes your presence is the firm discipline that protects me from harm or my own stupidity (a rod). In either case I do not live or lead alone! Guard me from thinking that life should be free from difficulty. There will be times when 'dark valley' experiences are what you design and desire for me. Fear will be normal. More and more I see that my spiritual journey is less about eliminating fear than invitng You into my fear...and trusting your presence with me as I face my fear.

Psalm 23:5...

Father it's a beautiful morning - the colors are stunning - the sun is out - a cool fall breeze. Yesterday was foggy and rainy. But beautiful in its own way. It's part of the rhythm of the 'smokey' mountains where clouds quickly roll in and just as quickly roll out. It reminds me of the rhythm of life. Some days are bright and full of optimism... others are dark and clouded by obstacles. Part of the rhythm of life in a fallen world. And part of the rhythm of leadership are seasons when oppostion is very real. Sometimes my decisions bring hurtful responses from those who struggle to see what I think I see. Keep me listening and learning as I lead. When I find myself leading through the 'fog' of opposition may I lead with humility and feel honored by you in the midst of what is hard.

Psalm 23:5...

Father it's my final morning here - another spectacular morning. A visual reminder of how spectacular your goodness and unfailing love are to me. What a great thought - your goodness and unfailing love 'pursue' me! At times it feels like you are distant from me - passive and removed. But you pursue me...all the days of my life. When I look to the future with feelings of uncertainty and fear...remind me that you pursue me with the promise of your goodness and unfailing love. Allow me to see your pursuit even when it appears in ways that are not as I had expected or hoped.

Thank you for the gift of this weekend - a metaphor of dwelling in your house forever. 

Fighting for Your Heart,

Gary Franklin