The third week in June saw me making my annual trek to Niobrara State Park. Love, love, love this time for its simplicity. It is the time to slow down, the opportunity to share with family, the moments of appreciating my Creator. The four hour drive takes me through areas of the state that I never fully value until I view the beautiful rolling hills, winding roads and green countryside.
A few short days (we check in Sunday afternoon leaving Wednesday morning to avoid the weekend groups), but the time is always so worth it. As my sister’s family approached high school years they chose not to always “come along”. After all the agenda is great when you are young, but later on walks, looking for wildlife and watching the evening sky can be less than exciting if you are a teenager. That cycle changed once again this year.
Nephew Sam, wife Liz and young son Miles, along with niece Becca and friend Eric opted to try the cabin experience again. As my sister Carol reminded me, “It’s going to be a little different with a 2-year old.” It was, but what fun to see young people relearn the joys of pitching horseshoes, catching catfish with Al, and digging out the binoculars to spot the deer or wild turkey. Swimming one hot afternoon and tubing down the river were balanced by great meals and long hikes down the paths.
God provided the visual, the audible, as well as fragrance in abundance. One morning walking along a trail gave quiet time for reflection. As I approached an open grassy area I heard my favorite sound; the meadowlark. The park is home to a myriad of birds, all with their own unique melodies, but hands down I love the voice of the meadowlark. I could hear him intermittently call, but could not spot him anywhere. Meadowlarks favor low perches, not high branches, so I knew he was there. I just couldn’t spot him. Try as I might when my eyes searched the lark was carefully hidden by the tall clover, tansy and wild mustard all in varied shades of yellow. So I just stopped, closed my eyes and listened.
That’s when God’s classroom lesson began. I thought how many times in my life I was searching for visible presence of God in my life and because I was sidetracked with a challenge, distracted by work, overwhelmed by a schedule I just could not see Him. I would have conversations (admittedly one-sided because I was in too much of a hurry to wait for the response) asking, “Where are you?” Yes, in retrospect I could see the people that He placed in my life, but on this morning my Lord taught me that it is just as important to close my eyes and simply listen for His voice.
If I block out the glaring, bold worldly sights and open my ears and go beyond “just hearing” to really listening – I can appreciate His voice more clearly. And it comes to me in the laughter of a 2 year old on a summer vacation. It is quite evident in the message of my Pastor on a Sunday morning. It echoes in the melody of the praise band on a Friday prayer vigil, and it resounds clearly in the words of my friends and the encouragement of my family’s conversation. That is perhaps where I hear my Creator’s voice most clearly.
Thank you Lord, for teaching me the balance of listening to your love as well as seeing it.
Blessings as you close your eyes and listen to your Savior. Doneta
Isaiah 30:21New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”