“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11.28-30 (NIV)
Shelter from Autumn’s dreary, constant drizzle and saturated ground in the Cascade Mountains requires refuge under an umbrella of large coniferous trees—firs, spruce, and pines readily found on the Western slopes. The forest welcomes visitors, including an eight-year-old sojourner and his companion, to the humid warmth, respite, and a sensory banquet under its canopy—a stark contrast to the grey overcast sky and vulnerability of the open field of dormant brown prairie grass.
As you move deeper into the forest sanctuary, the earthy smells strike you—strongly scented pine mixed with the aroma of pungent decaying coarse woody debris covered with shelf mushrooms. Saplings sheltered under the mixed canopy, and bracken ferns dapple the forest floor. The ever-present pine mounds of thatching ants mark a familiar trail up the slope.
You are never alone. Black-tailed deer, elk, bear, coyotes, skunks, and several reptilian occupants are always present but rarely seen. A symphony of the myriad insects, numerous birds, toads, and the mighty wind singing through the limbs overhead replaced the sound of rain in the open field.
Harmony replaces discordance.
The familiar trek takes the young visitors up and through the forest. It’s a pilgrimage undertaken unhindered and unhurried. The mission? Meander over and under damp foliage, rain-soaked rotting tree bark, and a short climb over exposed roots to shimmy through a narrow cliff ledge on the edge of this forest trek—the ultimate goal—an opening discovered by happenstance. Yet, the absolute joy was the stream crossing and the log to rest. The sojourn provided an opportunity to listen to the sound of the stream, babbling and tinkling over rocks and into pools.
Simultaneously, his companion, a black Labrador, darted in and out of the lush foliage, returning periodically to signal her willingness to roust him from his perch to their final destination.
The goal was the view.
Leaving the forest sanctuary and onto a cliff ledge, you experience a panoramic valley view. A view generally reserved for eagles. It’s exhilarating in Autumn’s dreary sky. You stand near or sit on a ledge, the forest floor hundreds of feet below, and enjoy the sound of the wind and the solitude. On the return journey, a drink and a stop before crossing the stream—indescribably clean, pure, and refreshing.
The forest, the stream, and the ledge were sanctuary places, especially for a young boy. However, decades later, he understood his journey’s significance, relevance, and the blessing of the tinkling refreshing stream.
Do you have a similar story?
On life’s journey, we yearn for rest, a respite from the world’s dissonance and social cacophony—its inconsistent, unrelenting distractions and demands. We may no longer have access to a forest sanctuary and a refreshing stream. However, we do have the ability to enter into His rest. A place where, like the young child, we find sanctuary and protection. A place like a forest canopy where we find rest in God, the Creator.
How? We follow Jesus’ example. His solitary place where He talked to His Father—the desert or garden.
We go to our solitary place, close our eyes and pray—commune with the Lord. Sitting there, we recall the log, hear the sounds, imagine the smells, and enjoy the tinkling brook under the forest canopy. We talk to our Father in simple terms, unhindered and unhurried. We drink from His stream, with living water, quenching our souls.
Do you yearn for rest, a place of respite? Find that place, close your eyes, and join His children by the stream under the forest canopy.
Jesus is calling. Let Him give you living water. Water that is indescribably clean and pure. Water that refreshes your soul.
Leave the world behind.
Enter His place of rest where harmony replaces discordance.
He is calling you.
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