Are you still struggling with the same problems as last year? Maybe you can’t get over a loss, can’t forgive yourself for a mistake, can’t seem to move past a disappointment or betrayal.
Maybe you feel stuck…but maybe the truth is that you really are growing forward. It just doesn’t look or feel the way you expected. This is good news! Because maybe all you need to do is tweak the way you look at yourself, your life, and the world around you.
And maybe the tweak you need is more interesting and fun than you can imagine.
Sitting on the Riverbank
A couple years ago I found my life verse: “I am like a tree, planted along the riverbank. I do not fear when the heat comes, or worry in long seasons of drought. My leaves stay green, and never fail to produce fruit.”
A couple mornings ago I wove my life verse into my morning-coffee-and-journaling with Jesus. This wasn’t unusual; I often write it down so it stays fresh in my memory. One day I plan to write a whole article on my life verse because every phrase has deep meaning — much deeper than it appears on the surface.
God surprised me a couple mornings ago. I suddenly found myself sitting on the riverbank beside that tree I’ve been imagining for so long. Sitting under that tree, watching the river flow over the rocks and roots, listening to the wind blow through the leaves.
And there, sitting right next to me, was Jesus. He looked at me, smiled, and settled back for a nice long sit on the riverbank.
“Sit? I can’t just sit with you!” I said. “This is an amazing opportunity — what we will do? What shall we talk about? Should we pray? What should we pray for? I’ve been feeling kinda tired lately, worried about my mom’s declining health, monitoring my sick dog, wondering if I’m making the right decisions…”
Jesus laughed, and then motioned to something floating down the river. It was a small raft; on it sat my little dog Tiffy. She was happily watching the flowers along the riverbank and sniffing the river breeze. She floated on by…and I knew I didn’t have to worry about her. She was in good hands.
I let Tiffy float down the river. I felt quiet, calm and still. Simply happy to be in God’s presence, sitting by Jesus, allowing the breath of the Holy Spirit to flow through the trees and leaves and me.
But then I thought, “Maybe we should talk about church! There’s lots going on right now, and people sure need Your healing, presence, help. Can we pray for Jack and Jill and Joe and Jane?”
Jesus smiled, and motioned to something floating down the river. Another raft — a bit bigger this time. Jack and Jill and Joe and Jane are bigger than my little dog Tiffy. They need a big raft, but they fit on this one…and down the river they floated. I let them go; they were in God’s good hands.
I enjoyed a few moments of utter silence, peace and quiet. So much joy and power, simply sitting on the riverbank with Jesus.
But then I remembered my mom. “Jesus, she’s pretty sick and what if she dies one day? I’ll be so sad. I’ll miss her even though it’s hard to talk to her sometimes. I’ll be all alone without my mom.”
Jesus put his arm around me and pulled me close. He looked over my head at the river…and there was a raft with my mom on it. Not the mom she is now; she was my young, healthy, happy mom. She was standing on the raft, waving at me, laughing and free. And I let her float down the river because she didn’t need me. She was in God’s good hands.
I settled back against Jesus. Peaceful, still, silent and joyful.
Echoes of Healing for You
My friend, that is how I experienced the healing of God’s presence yesterday morning. The depth of His peace, power and joy is absolutely amazing! But as you can see, it takes time and focus.
You don’t need a strong imagination or creative spirit to experience God. All you need is to take time to practice being quiet in His presence. It helps to participate in silent retreats or contemplative prayer seminars, like I did a couple weeks ago. It helps to soak up Scripture verses — or even choose a life verse of your own.
The most surprising and beautiful thing about sitting silently beside Jesus, soaking up God’s presence and being aware of the Holy Spirit is that it spills over into other parts of life. For example, a past regret reared its ugly head last night. My old feelings of shame and guilt rose and I thought, “Again? I though I was past all this!”
And suddenly the river appeared. There was another raft…and guess what was on it? That old regret, those old feelings of shame and guilt. Floating away. I could either chase them down the river or let them go and stay on the riverbank with Jesus.
I chose to stay on the riverbank.
Not the Way You Expected
If you’re still struggling with the same problems as last year, then you need to start exploring different solutions. If you can’t get over a loss, can’t forgive yourself for a mistake or can’t seem to move past a disappointment or betrayal, it’s time to try something new.
Maybe you feel stuck because you are stuck. And maybe you don’t feel like you have the time, energy or imagination to experiment with new ways to get unstuck. You’ve been pouring all your spare time and energy and attention into the pain or problem…and this leaves you with nothing left.
Why don’t you come sit next to me and Jesus on the riverbank? Settle in on his other side. If you’re not much of a believer, sit beside me instead. Just watch the river with us. When the problems and pains and negative thoughts and toxic emotions rise in your mind and heart, imagine them — one at a time — floating down the river on a raft.
You get to choose if you follow the problem down the river, or if you stay on the riverbank with us. You can stay stuck or choose peace, joy, freedom and life. It’s up to you!
Either way, you’re welcome to sit with us for as long as you like.
With His love,