"You hem me in —behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me... Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even here your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:5,7,8
My time to stop arrived this evening.
If you can imagine God clearing His throat, that's what it felt like: a giant "Ahem!" And after a night of work and an afternoon of constant demand and activity, I embraced my stopping time whole-heartedly. With finals behind me and the thought of necessary emails and phone calls discarded until my return, I stuffed my blanket, hammock, notebook, and ipod into my bag, grabbed a coat, and went to fetch my bike. Just as I was unlocking it, I felt a drop of rain. I paused to look at the sky.
There was no sun--only clouds. It was just a little chilly, but darkness wasn't too far away, and it would be getting colder. And now it was starting to sprinkle. I hesitated just a moment before pulling my bike free. This was the time, and I knew I couldn't be inside for it. Perhaps this was just a good opportunity to test my resilience.
I rode to Lions Park and set myself up in my favorite tree. The branches provided shelter from the majority of the rain. At first. But the sprinkling was picking up the pace. So I cocooned myself in my hammock, keeping my notebook dry as I began releasing my pent up thoughts onto the pages.
Then came the thunder.
I paused my pen to consider this new twist. Was it wise to be in a tree? Was it wise to be out here at all? I could feel drops of water filtering through my shelter. It was cold. The sky was filled with dark clouds, and it was getting harder to see what I was writing. But this was the time.
I continued to let my thoughts flow, to let myself acknowledge what was in my heart. I allowed myself to be frustrated and deeply sad, to be proud and bewildered, to be afraid and honest and open. And I felt and I thought and I listened and I prayed and I wrote.
And then I stopped. The roar of thunder overpowered my music, the soft and thoughtful songs I'd had playing in my ears. I felt a sense of peace sweep over me. I couldn't help but smile. It was all so beautiful, so unexpectedly serene. Cuddled up in my blanket within the cocoon of my hammock, I felt the rain hit the earth and heard it dance across the creek behind me. I felt the thunder in my bones, and I rested in the gentle sway of the wind. This storm is no test, I thought to myself. This is no obstacle to overcome. This storm is a gift. And so I enjoyed my present. It was a medicinal experience, one that filled my heart and left me brimming with gratitude.
When I knew the time had come to enter a new moment, I loaded up my things and hopped back on my bike. It was pouring by this point. I still had my ear buds in my ears and my music set to random. As I started riding up the road, my soft and thoughtful song came to a close, and "I Gotta Feeling" erupted in my ears. A grin spread across my face. Call me a heathen if you like, but I'm confident God speaks through an infinite number of means, including the Black Eyed Peas. So He and I and the Black Eyed Peas half-rode-half-swam back to campus. I arrived drenched, joyful, and rejuvenated for life.
I like serving a God who's a part of everything. I like that He knows what I need, and I like that He shows me how to find it and receive it. I like knowing that there's no way to be hidden from Him. And I like how wherever I go, He is there. In a feeling, in a thought, in a roar of thunder, in a smile, in a song, in a raindrop. His hand guides me. His arms embrace me.
And I like that a lot.