We have a little cabin in the woods of Dickson County. It’s not much really just a fixed up shed but it is a fun, safe, quiet place to escape to. On Friday I took Jon-Mical, my 4 year old grandson there for the afternoon. We walked in the woods, played with cars in the sand pile, picked daffodils for his mommy, and built a fire to roast marshmallows on. It was an incredible afternoon, a light jacket, just enough sunshine kind of day that we get every once in a while in February. We had a blast.
As we were leaving Jon-Mical said, “PoppyC, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay at the cabin always.” Sounded pretty good to me. I turned around to tell him that and he was fast asleep in his car seat.
We need days like that from time to time. In fact, we need places like that, safe, quiet, get away from it all places. When the frantic pace of our frustrating lives begins to frazzle us we need that place to step aside and quiet our hearts, calm our spirits, and collect our thoughts. The problem is we may not all have a little cabin in the woods. Or even if we do it may not be as close as we need it to be when the pressure mounts. Here at Branches we often try to help people to find that safe place, even in their imagination, to escape to. We all know how necessary it is for healthy living to be able to disengage briefly and reboot.
Susanna Wesley, the mother of the 18th century evangelist brothers, John and Charles Wesley, had 13 children. It is said that when she had to get away she sat in a chair in the middle of her kitchen and pulled her apron up over her head. John Hyde, called “The Praying Hyde” used to meditate and pray for several hours each morning in the potato bin of their farm house. Even Jesus found a place by the sea shore where he could slip away from the crowd for a while.
So where do you go when you have just about reached your boiling point and you are desperate for a quiet few moments? Let me give you three places that I visit often as my safe place in the middle of the storm. The first is a regular spot in my house or office. It is helpful to have a set place that you are accustomed to for just that purpose. Doris sits in an easy chair in the family room. Her Bible and glasses stay on the arm of the chair ready for her visit. I have a small couch in my office at home that is my quiet place. When I sit down there my mind knows that I am ready to slow down and focus on what really matters. Establish a regular, comfortable, consistent corner that brings you into the presence of God.
The second place travels with you wherever you go. It is a memory or a vision or an image that you are used to visiting. Today in your prayer time ask God to bring to your mind a pictrue, someplace you have actually seen or someplace you imagine. Stay in that place for a little while and look it over carefully. Get to know the colors, sounds, and smells of that place. Turn to every side and see it well so that when you need to you can draw that quiet place back into your mind. Then, sitting in a parking lot behind the steering wheel of your car, or in the break room with the door closed for a few minutes, learn to visit that place until your pulse slows down, your thoughts become softer, and peace comes back again.
That leads me to the third place. It is even less material than the second place but more specific than the first. Let the Word of God be your quiet place. Begin to claim a few Bible verses that open themselves up to you. Verses where you can go in and sit for awhile. Memorize them. Meditate on them. And then, when everything seems to be piling in on your, pull up one of those verses and let it be your safe place. One that I visit often is found in Philippians 3:10-11. “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him as He is, and so to somehow attain the resurrection of the dead.” I don’t know why but I can just lay around in that verse for awhile and feel…well, safe, quiet, peaceful.
I don’t know what troubles you face from time to time but I do know that you face troubles. When you do, if there is not a cabin to run to try one of these quiet spots. Who knows, you might meet me there?
Grace and Peace,