Last Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:15 a.m. to head to California for The Leadership Institute's Journey retreat. Without any coffee in my system, I made it to the airport, through security and on the plane. Once the plane was completely boarded and our luggage stowed away, the pilot made an announcement that due to a flat tire, our departure would be delayed. I decided to rest my eyes - something my mom taught me how to do and modeled for me occasionally, including the time she "rested" her eyes at Memorial Stadium during Nebraska's comeback win over Wisconsin last fall. (Only a mom of 8 could fall asleep in a crowd of 70,000+ at a Husker game.) After about 30 minutes, the pilot announced that there was no solution in Omaha to our flat tire, and our flight was canceled. Suddenly, all of the well-poised business people on the plane transformed into savages, and a mad dash to rebook all of our flights at the ticket counter broke out among us. During the hour I stood in line, I missed both of my connecting flights, and was completely rerouted to Los Angeles.
I had joked with friends before leaving that I felt much more confident in traveling internationally and using African public transportation than my ability to travel to a major US city. And after 10 hours of air travel, renting my first car, and 2 hours of navigating LA traffic, my belief was confirmed :) . The process was a confidence booster, though, and I made it to Saddleback Church's San Juan Capistrano campus for The Journey retreat.
While the teaching during each of the sessions was powerful, the most significant moment of the trip came for me during one of our scheduled times to be alone with God for an extended period of time. Knowing I had a few hours, a rental car, and that I'd never seen whatever ocean is on the west coast, I decided to find my way to the beach to hang out with God.
I found a little spot in Laguna that was quiet, unoccupied, and gorgeous. Recently, I'd been feeling slightly overwhelmed with choices in life and struggling with a strong paralysis of analysis toward my life. I'm beginning to realize how captivated by fear I am at messing up or making a "wrong" choice than living captivated by God's love and the freedom in it. As I laid out my towel, sat down and got out my journal and Bible, I felt God telling me to set it aside and BE with him. I felt a strong sense that he didn't want me to DO anything.
I laid back on the towel and listened as God showed me the warmth of the sun on my face and the beauty of the waves crashing against the shore. I watched the birds fly carelessly over the ocean, dipping down toward the water, pulling back up, resting on rocks and sandy beaches and then going back out. I was reminded of Matthew 6:25-27:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
I laughed to and at myself for how ridiculous I am for taking myself so seriously. I began to think about the practicality of what it would be like to not worry, what it would be like to TRUST the Spirit within me, and how I could begin to do that. As I pondered these things, a family appeared on the beach and I listened to the children talking. "See my footprints?" the daughter asked her little brother. "Step in them."
My heart was overwhelmed as I thought of how that's it. My little feet will easily fit within the footprint of my Father. I felt my body physically relax, and I thought of what it would feel Iike to be a child. I wouldn't worry about planning my day because I would know that Dad would get me where I needed to be. I wouldn't be self conscious because it was my Father who clothed me. I wouldn't look for counterfeit affections because I would be so submersed in my Daddy's love that I wouldn't look for anything else. I would feel free to laugh, to love, and to live. I would be protected, provided for, and loved.
And, I thought about how all of this is mine in real life as a daughter of my God.
Thank you Lord for slowing down my life enough for sweet times of revelation and reminders and simply to spend time together.