By Arie Reath
When I was a child, there was a special place I liked to go to pray, to observe, and to just be. Some of my earliest memories took place here. I would climb up a specific tree alongside the creek that raised me and perch myself on a branch over the water, somewhere halfway up the tree. I listened to the ocean sound of the wind passing through the leaves overhead, intermingling with chirping birds and foraging squirrels. I watched the gentle creek flow by and observe the occasional brave woodland creature coming to check out the intruder in their habitat. Now that I am older and have moved away from that sacred place, I have found a similar place of serenity that grounds me and offers sanctuary while I seek His presence.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
– Psalm 23:1-3
And so it is in this place that I share some words the Lord has placed on my heart:
Sitting on the riverbank, I gaze into the water, seeing the ripples that form on the bottom sediments. I see an old beer bottle cap and general trash collecting where the water meets earth. No fish or minnows, it may yet be too early in the season for that. I realize I’m staring very intensely at the bottom of this river. Suddenly, my focus shifts, and I see the water’s reflection of the clouds and the beautiful sunset above. I can no longer see the bottom of the river.
How quickly my mind turned from focusing downward on trash, my own internal struggles, and ugliness, to focusing upwards toward light, beauty, and the pure, simple radiance of the Joy that it is to be alive.
It was like He was saying we are given a choice:
1. We can look into the bottom of our spiritual rivers and see the trash left behind from whatever came before this moment…or
2. We can shift our focus to Him, observe the reflection of the beauty of Heaven above and bask in His Presence, Peace, and Joy.
But you can't look at both at the same time. Isn't the choice obvious?
Image via Her Free Spirit