August 12, 2015

Take Refuge

As I've shared in a couple of the previous posts, I've been discouraged which has caused me to feel weary of my current reality, so of course I decided to combat those feelings with an afternoon paddle since today was so sunny with comfortable temperatures.

Despite the sun and great temps, it was a windy day on the water. I had a very strong head wind I kept having to fight while also paddling against the current upstream. So, I decided to take a little break from my battle with the wind by paddling inside one of the coves along the riverside. I knew the cove would shield me from the strong winds and be a temporary escape from them. I was right.

Once I was back there, everything became so quiet and peaceful. I had to slow down my pace since there were many tree branches and roots in the water to maneuver around. The peace and beauty inside that cove was awesome. I could actually see the fish in the water. Different kinds and all very large. I also was able to see more turtles in the water than I do in the actual river.

I went as far back into the cove as I could get before fallen trees blocked my path. Once I reached that point. I just laid down on my board and soaked in all the peace and beauty. It reminded me of the many scriptures in the Psalms that refer to God as a refuge, a place of protection and a place of solitude. Here I could get the quiet I needed to relish in some of God's beauty and be protected from the harsh winds of reality.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

The Encouragement Of Others

Photo: Creative Commons, by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

In my last post, I discussed the how we can find encouragement in solitude. But, of course, we can also find encouragement from others.

Later that evening after posting my last blog, I went out on the water with another paddler. We went out in the harbor to teach ourselves how to do more than just stand on our boards. We wanted to learn how to walk on our boards and how to do turns requiring us to be able walk backward and forward on our boards, a very difficult and challenging task for just about every paddler when first trying it. This is something I've been wanting to learn, and it was my goal to learn it before the end of the summer. So, I tired it.

At first, trying to pick my feet up off the board felt nearly impossible. It felt like my feet were glued to my board. I thought for sure I was going to completely lose my balance and end up in the water, or even worse, face plant on my board. But I knew I had to lift my foot and trust that, if I take that first step, God would guide me the rest of the way.

My fellow paddler and I would occasionally look over to each other to see how we were both doing. She encouraged me as she saw me trying to walk (I wasn't graceful, but instead looked like a baby taking its first steps). And while it felt good to have encouragement from her, it felt even better to encourage her! She was doing awesome, and I just kept saying, "There you go! You've got it!" Just saying those words to another person lifted my own spirits so high.

One of the things we both realized as we were trying these new techniques is that we had to go back to the basics, the things we learned the first time we ever stood on a board:  don't look down (it was only after Peter looked down that he began to sink) and stabilize yourself with the paddle in the water.

While I still have more practice to do to be able to walk more confidently and more gracefully on my board, I felt like those first steps, though small and awkward, were a huge start. I started to feel "unstuck," and I don't think I would have tried as hard to make myself take those steps if there wasn't someone there by side encouraging me and challenging me. I've been feeling stuck in a lot of areas of my life lately, and it helps me to become unstuck when I have friends who encourage me as I take one scary, wobbly step at a time.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (I Thessalonians 5:11)