Still

Parents of school-age kids know one thing to be true: May is crazy month! Between the concerts, presentations, class parties, and championship games, you’ve gotta squeeze in end-of-the-year projects, end-of-the-year gifts, and find that missing library book. After six years of this, I’ve learned to see it coming, but it’s still a whirlwind!

For introverts like me, May is a particularly rough time. Thankfully, since the weather is usually nice, I can get some quality alone time by going for a run in one of our local parks.

The Audubon Trail is my favorite local “getaway”. From the wooded trails of the Audubon Nature Center to the winding riverside path through Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, this 4-mile loop is mostly quiet and peaceful.

I say “mostly” because there are a few exceptions – most notably, when the trail merges with Egypt Road to cross the Perkiomen Creek. I dread this section because, after forgetting that I live in suburbia for a couple miles, I’m suddenly running just a few feet away from the loud rush of oncoming traffic!

The cool thing I’ve found, though, is that if I just turn my head and look in the other direction, I see this. The busyness and chaos behind me is easily forgotten in the stillness of this view:

When life gets overwhelming, we search for peace. Mostly we just want to make it all go away by hiding in our cozy beds and watching Netflix, but since that doesn’t usually work out so well, we look for other ways to still the stirring chaos.

As I search for peace in my own life, I know that Jesus is the only answer. Not only did He live at perfect peace when He walked this earth, but He also promised to give us that peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Over the past several years, I’ve developed a habit of receiving this peace from Jesus during my alone time with Him. Especially during stress-filled seasons, it’s imperative for me to take the time to grab my Bible, put my earbuds in, and forget the world as I pray and read. It’s my daily walk on that serene wooded path.

But what I often fail to realize is that this stillness is also available to me on the Egypt Road bridges of my days – all I have to do is turn.

Psalm 23:2 says that God, as my wise and caring Shepherd, “leads me beside still waters.” No matter what chaos is going on in or around me, His peaceful still waters are always immediately available.

Author and speaker Jill Briscoe calls these waters, “the Deep Place where nobody goes”. In her book of the same title, she tells story after story of leaving the “shallow places where everyone lives” to go to “the Deep Place” and have “conversations with God on the steps of my soul”. Even in the midst of conversations, social situations, and other circumstances, Jill describes turning in her mind to Jesus – to talk, listen, and receive His peace in that exact moment.

Though I wish I could spend all of my days wandering the quiet wooded paths, my life – especially in this season – is more like the busy Egypt Road bridge. Thankfully, the peace that Jesus gives is “not as the world gives” and it’s available to me 24/7. Every time I pause and turn and look in His direction, my perspective changes. In the still waters I see more clearly who He is and who I am as He “restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3)

Even with the chaos of life surrounding us, we can experience His peace!

I ran to the Deep Place where nobody goes and found Him waiting there.
“Where have you been?” He asked me.
“I’ve been in the shallow places where everyone lives,” I replied. I knew He knew. He just wanted me to admit I’d been too busy being busy.
“I’m running out…” I began.
“Of course,” He said. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
He sat down on the steps of my soul in the Deep Place where nobody goes and smiled at me. Angels sang; a shaft of light chased away the shadows and brightened my daily day. I smiled back.
“I’m such a fool…”
“Shhh,” He said, putting His finger on my lips.
He touched my hurried heart. Startled, it took a deep breath and skidded to a near stop. My spirit nestled into nearness in the Deep Place where nobody goes.
My soul spoke, then: He answered with words beyond music. Where “on earth” had I been while “heaven” waited? Such grace!
*

*”The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes: Conversations with God on the steps of my soul” by Jill Briscoe, p. 16-17

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