“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
This past week I went to Asheville with a close friend of mine. It was a small excursion for a couple of days, a much-needed time away to recharge and get away for just a moment. We walked around downtown searching for a taco shop (I mean, it was taco Tuesday), poked around some comic shops and other art stores. It was awesome, I have a hard time simply relaxing and not working on something. I am always working, if not at my jobs, it’s my writing or some other project. The idea of rest is something difficult for me because I have always had to work in order to get where I need to be. It was a blast to have no agenda, to look at books, and find some Fantastic Four back issues I’ve been searching for (issues 347-349, yo!). We then decided to take a small drive on the Blue Ridge and see some mountains.
This was my favorite moment. Driving along the parkway, listening to Julien Baker and looking at mountains. We found this one lookout with an outcropping of rocks, so Dan climbed it and I took some mountain pictures. One quiet moment. Suddenly all these emotions started flooding in. There’s been a lot of noise in my life recently. I’ve been busy, there’s a lot of frustrations about my current journey in ministry, some unforgiveness and anger bubbling under the surface, and just general distraction from my time with God. In that quiet moment, I was filled with emotion, it was like everything that I was running from finally caught up. In that moment, I was able to look out at the mountains and remember that these emotions and hurts are small in comparison with the bigger picture. There is something bigger happening, I simply need to trust in the creator, because the same God that made the mountains made me. He made me and you, because he cares, I know he cares because he sent his son to die for each of us.
Prepare in the pasture.
I feel like in the past couple of posts I’ve sounded like an emo punk band talking about how no one understands me, but mainly I just try to stay real and never sugar coat real-life. We all have these ups and downs of life, which is basically the story of every person in the bible. I think of Joseph. My story and his have been feeling like we would have definitely been kindred spirits. Here was a young guy that God called into doing big things, Joseph got a bit prideful at his start and got himself into trouble. He then gets out of the mess and into a great spot, and seemingly like this is where God wants him to be, then events out of his control force him out of his position and locking him away. He was promised big things from God yet kept being pushed away. He then becomes the translator of dreams for some of his cell mates, and one of them refers Joseph to help translate for the Pharaoh (Shouts out to networking). I think for many of us, we are in these low moments. Nothing horrible is happening, but maybe we just got out of a storm or have the feeling that we are headed into one. I love how God speaks to us in the quiet moments, the moments where we just need that extra boost of encouragement. That scripture at the top of this post speaks to these moments, the peace moments. We need to be pressing into the spirit in the times where nothing is happing. So often we become believers in the foxhole when hell is raining down but forget what a devotional is when the war time ends. God has something to reveal to each of us every day. He wants us to take time in the pasture to prepare for what comes next. You woke up today, and that means God is not done with you. You have a purpose, so prepare in the pasture.
Persevere through the path.
God will refresh your weary heart. I didn’t say fix every problem or make the situation better, I mean that he can lift you out of the mud and get back on track. In my mountain top moment (not a mountain top of coming back from camp or trip, but actual mountain), God didn’t stop and say here’s what you do now. It was more of a, yes, this situation sucks, but I am using it to prepare you for the great things to come. Joseph probably felt terrible each time he was held back from the direction he believed in, but in the end, God used his struggle and did something amazing with it. He used it to the point where his family, who looked down on him and had him to the point of death, look back and beg for forgiveness. The path is not easy, but there are moments that bring refreshment and others that will test you, it can be hard and sometimes feel like there is no hope. There is hope. There is and always will be hope. We have hope in our creator who became our savior by way of defeating death on a cross. In the end, we will be able to enter the presence of the king, and even if you have never been given affirmation, the only one that matters will say, “well done.” Persevere through the path, your life holds great value.
That mountain moment was refreshing. Life is funny, I can get so caught up in the struggle, I lose sight of what matters. I don’t care about this certain position, I care about the people I want to reach. I have a ton of skills that are unique to me, God has a plan to use those talents for something and someplace bigger. I have an incredible relationship with my girlfriend Danielle, who makes me better and helps me dream bigger. I’m an uncle now, like what? That’s nuts! My family gives me unrelenting support and helps me refocus my attitude. I’ve got great friends that want to spend time with me and get dinner, talk about movies, and go on random trips to Asheville. I have this space here on my blog where I can push myself to write more and experiment (I’m thinking about doing a weekly comic review as well as uploading poetry, let me know if you would read it!). The thing is, when I get refreshed in the spirit, I’m able to see the beauty life has to offer.
Will it be easy, probably not, but who would Joshua be without a little angst and struggle? All I know is this, God has me in his hand. He made you and I differently, with different purposes, and he is going to do amazing things with you and me.
So, dear reader, lets enjoy the preparation in the pasture and persevere on the path. Take time to get refreshed, you’ll be amazed by the change in your perspective.