Do you ever wonder about all the times God’s mercy might have spared you from something catastrophic? I do. I think of all the almost-accidents, almost-falls, almost-illnesses that He has delivered me and my loved ones from. I rarely, however, consider the: why did He deliver me for?
Why, even if I did go through a hard situation, He made me come out the other side unharmed?
Back in April this year, I went to my home-church’s Women’s Retreat and, as always, it was WONDERFUL!!! This year, however, it was particularly poignant because, as part of one of the sessions, we had to take a walk alone around the retreat grounds. If you are reading this and you are one of the fortunate women who have been to our retreat site, you know how much of a treat it is to walk around “The Castle,” especially if it is a nice spring day. Well, that day, it was. It was a beautiful, early spring day, not too cold, not rainy and perfectly peaceful…absolutely conducive to a reflective walk by oneself.
The study guide, very appropriately called this section of the session: “A Walk with God.” The activity included some short readings and stopping points where we were supposed to pause and meditate, reflects in the Scripture and most of all, listen…listen to His still small voice in the quiet of our souls. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time quieting myself enough to listen to God’s voice inside of me. Life gets too much on the way. My thoughts are too loud. My worries scream inside my brain all day long. I have a REALLY hard time following Paul’s advice to concentrate on: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4: 8)
That April morning, however, surrounded by the glory of early spring, in the silence of the forest all around me, God allowed me a moment to still my soul.
I wandered to the back of the Castle and found a tree trunk fallen on the ground. I sat there, stretched my legs, took long breaths, contemplated nature and thought about nothing. After a while, my eyes fell upon a fire-pit type of thing, which I had not noticed earlier. It looked like an area that the maintenance staff uses to burn trash. I examined the area and it was pretty ugly. There were ashes everywhere, covering half-burnt objects, old tires and other assortment of garbage. The scene made me experience an eerie feeling down my spine. God’s beauty interrupted by a burn pile…it was not the most pleasant of discoveries. But then, as my eyes continued to run through the gray pile of ashes, a thought began to formulate in my brain…beauty from ashes…
Why did it take me so long to write about this, you may wonder? The reason is that I didn’t know then how to approach it. The image of the ashes haunted me all along, but I just hadn’t figured why. Today, as I found my retreat workbook and my scattered notes on the subject I started to think…
At that time, I was just beginning to learn how to breathe again after a few rough years of trials, illness, loss, changes, brokenness and all in all, incredible pain. At the table discussions in the retreat, I had begun to allow myself to dive into the joy of being delivered from most of my hurts. But today I see that the ashes I was sitting in front of at that moment were truly the ashes of my life. Those where the ashes of the things God had burned in me that now laid out of my body, out of my mind, out of my soul. It was like I was contemplating the trash God had burned in my life. He had gathered it right there, in front of my face so I would realize and accept that it was all taken care of. Those were the ashes of my hurt and my pain and they no longer inhabited my soul. I had been delivered from them and it was time to move on.
It was time to figure out what I had been delivered for.
Today, I still don’t know exactly what it is that God has designed for me…I still wonder what He wants me to do. I’m not sure of the path He wants me to walk on by or the mission He may have for my life…but I am sure He has taken care of me and that it is my job now to be open and let Him take me to the place that He delivered me for. That early spring walk around the Castle had been a walk of discovery. I discovered God's delivering power in my life...and I discovered my need to acknowledge it, loudly proclaim it and humbly accept it.