Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Peace Like A River

I remember it like it was yesterday.  As I removed my shoes, I mentally was preparing myself to walk across the rough and jagged rocks the same hard ground that Jesus once walked.  Would I be able to feel his presence?  I felt I needed to encounter his presence.  God sent me here for a purpose, but so far all my seeking for him seemed to be non-existent; this has to be the day he shows me why I am here!  As I stepped across the uneven, sharp rocks, I was taking in the light and breathing in the sweetly perfumed air, rushing to get down by the shoreline.  I could hear the sound of the babbling brook as I eagerly ran.  I saw the modest church that stood at the edge of the path.  The magnificent doors were intricately carved from rough –hewn wood.  Small stained-glass windows dotted the otherwise simple plaster walls.  The rock where Jesus stood was roped off at the front of the small building like an alter. 

As I stepped into the water, the rocks became smooth, and relief came to my feet.  All I could do was stand there in an awe-filled moment.  I couldn’t hear anyone, even though there were 129 others there.  Standing next to an enormous rock, out of nowhere, I felt the slight nibble, like a kiss, on my ankle as I looked down into the clear-glass water I saw a pool of green fish swimming at my feet.  As I stepped on the rock, I could feel the harsh winds coming from the east.  With a little panic, I reached up to keep my hat from flying away.  It was at that moment I saw the mountains ridge over the horizon from the billowing fog.  My panic changed to calm.  Though the sea was raging from the east to the north, it was smooth and peaceful.  God, where are you?” I felt the way David explains it, 

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1 NIV).
I am ready to meet you, Lord.

I was standing on an enormous rock in the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by the water.  Beautiful, rushing water surrounded me everywhere I looked, as far as I could see.  The question running through my mind “Jesus, where are you?”  This was God’s land, and I felt at home, felt at peace. I knew this was where I was supposed to be. As I stepped down from the rock facing the south, I turned to the east. The harsh winds were so strong that I quickly rotated to face the north.  As I stood there, I could hear the mountains beckoning me.  As I continued to look out over the horizon, I sat down, hitting my right foot on something very sharp on the bottom of the beautiful blue sea. Using my right foot like a shovel, I loosened the sharp object.  Next, using my feet like a claw, I clenched the object and brought it to my hands, as I reached down for the object, there it was, the most beautiful black rock I had ever seen.  Most would see an ordinary rock, but to me this rock meant everything.  The rock was in the shape of a heart!  Previously at breakfast, I made a comment “maybe I have a harder heart than I think I do!” I knew my whole reason for going on this trip:  It was for God to change my hardened heart.  He did just thatwith a heart shaped rock. 
  An answered prayer! 
Everywhere I looked, I saw the beauty of God’s creation.  I even walked on a rocky path with my bare feet, a path Jesus walked.  I wanted to feel the beauty of this place to my very core.  I wanted to take in everything that I could in every way possible.  Thus in itself was magnificent.  But the real beauty was how God used this trip to change me, and he used a rock.  My heart had been hard and bitter for a very long time, for numerous reasons, and I even hesitated to go on this trip.  It was spur-of-the-moment, literally complete surrender, listening to God and what he wanted me to do.

I stepped away from the stone; I went to sit on the lush deep-green foliage, I could hear the wind gently blowing, rustling through the sagging branches of the large shade tree, as I prepared for the teaching.  The patchy grasses of the dunes leading up to the shore swayed rhythmically.  The shore was gray with large chunky rocks; I could hear the waves crashing into the volcanic rocks scattered about, a vast cry from the fine white sand beaches we are used to seeing.  I had to squint to see across the lake.  The town of Tiberius was visible, as were the various fishing boats that were still docked because of the blustery winds coming from the east.

Not only was the beauty of the scenery, but it was in the beauty of the friendships I made while on that trip.  I know this will last me a lifetime.  The sincerity and love from the ladies I was with is so overwhelming, to be honest.  No one had ever shown me the kind of love and kindness that these ladies showed me.  They shared my joy when I found the rock.  One of them took a picture of me standing on the rock, without me even knowing it.  I had just been admiring the beauty of it all; the sea, the mountains, and the fish swimming at my feet.  I could hear the laughter of the group in the distance behind me.  It was all so fascinating, breathtaking at its best.  The air I breathed refreshed my inner soul.  It gave me peace, the peace that I had longed for but never found, until then.  God is the Master of His creation.  All of it, but especially there at that place where I stood.  I could go on for hours talking about the feeling I had while standing on that rock; the thoughts going through my head, the healing I felt as the air seemed to refresh me from head to toes and into my very spirit.

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