Sometimes getting to the best place means traveling through some bad or hard places. This was my experience at a recent Day of Silence. The retreat was held at a small retreat center that I have visited many times. I have my favorite places and planned ahead to return to them. The weather always is a factor contributing to the condition of the outdoors, and this time the recent rains had affected the place I wanted to go.
As I walked down the hill to the creek, I found confirmation that this was indeed the best place on the campus. Before me were the paw prints left by the bobcat who lives there. I have seen the bobcat on other visits. I know he likes the creek. This was one of my first challenges. If I was to go forward, I would have to overcome my fear of meeting that bobcat on my journey. I had to trust that God would guard me on all sides and that the bobcat himself was more afraid of me than I was of him.
In addition, I faced the challenges of the dirt, mire and mud that I had to journey through to see the best place. There was no way of getting to the place that drew me without having to slip and slide in the mud and mire that guarded the best place at the retreat. I had to be willing to be dirty and let others see me dirty if I were to get to the place that I wanted to go.
Once I got through the mire, I arrived at the place, but even there I was confronted by my childhood memories. I stood on the rocks where the water was flowing and remembered a time when I stood on rocks in a creek that were shared by a snake that scared me to death! I decided to sit down anyway to be close to the flowing water and get to the place God was drawing me. To do so, I had to let go of my childhood memories and realize that this was a new place, and I was called here for a different purpose.
After all of this, I let go. I let go of my fears. I accepted the dirt that I and others could see, and I forgot my childhood memories and sat in my new place. The reward was great. I entered into a sweet time with God that I could not have found in any other place. As if to confirm that I was in the place God wanted me, He sent me a beautiful monarch butterfly to mark the importance of this place and another equally beautiful moth who seemed to dance in a full circle, assuring me that this was the best place to be.
I curled up in a ball and took in the sights and sounds of this place. I felt God’s favor and delight in allowing me to be in such beauty.
Fears, muck and childhood must be laid aside if I want to go to the better place. Psalm 32:7 says,
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
I’ve been to that place. There’s no other place that I would rather be, and I don’t mind the dirt, danger and determination that come along with reaching this place. In fact, all of those things are part of what makes it such a special place.