I think my Tessa would ride her pony, Lightning, everyday. On one of our recent spring, teaser days, Daron took Tess out to get a little riding done. They came back inside a few hours later - her cheeks pink and satisfied look filling her wide grin. Apparently, they'd had quite an adventure! Lightning is not named for her speed. We enjoy sarcasm and dry humor around here and the name she came with fit it. What Lightning lacks in the speed category, she more than makes up for an attitude. She really is great with children; however, she has no desire to trade her cozy confines and tasty ready-made hay buffet in the barn for exercise and the spring thaw outside. (Yet another way she fits in well with our farm family.) This particular afternoon, Tessa watched amused as Daron chased the crazy pony all over the barnyard trying to catch her for Tessa's ride. Sludging through the barnyard is no joke and it didn't take many rounds for Daron to call it enough. Next, Tessa hopped down, walked over to Lightning, took hold of the halter, and kept her in place while Daron quickly equipped the pony for a ride. The difference? Well, one could argue that ponies know the vet that pokes them. But, I'd say it's far more likely that ponies know the hand that feeds them tasty apples. We have had Tessa bring Lightning treats often so the pony would know Tess well and learn to associate her with good things. That way, all Tessa has to do is call and Lightning will hear and come...expecting good things from her eager hand. The ancient poet, David, knew something about the expectancy of looking to one he'd grown to trust as the Giver of Life and all that is good: " He upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look hopefully to You, and You give them their food in due time, opening Your Hand and satisfying the desire of every living creature." (Psalm 145:14-16) Lightning has to stand still to be able to accept the sweet gifts Tessa offers from her hand. How often I keep myself and my mind running busily...too distracted to pause and accept the tender, quiet gifts of a Master Whose open hand is waiting to refresh my weary soul. When I have so much that is pressing to be done - clamoring for my attention - it seems counter-intuitive to stop. To sit still and breathe deeply. "I will breathe when I am done," I tell myself. But the list never ends, and I am left feeling the exhaustion of the chase for achievement and completion. It is both a devastating loss for my Type-A brain; and - simultaneously - a willing surrender to the joy of this journey of ever-repeating moments. So where does that joy show itself? In the snapshots of stillness that are there if we take the time to notice: the orange hues of the setting sun as we hurry through evening chores; the tight chubby-armed hugs of my toddler as she snuggles deep into my neck trying to escape bedtime; the stolen kiss in the kitchen from a hubby headed to an after-hours vet call; the accomplishment of a freshly swept floor after the rain of spilled cereal... All moments that could be seen as frustrations as I attempt to check off a tidy set of to do's. In the frantic rushing about, I hear my name. And, just like Lightning, I stop. I know this voice. I know that even in the inconvenience of being still, I will receive good things. I will be filled. My Master will walk with me and whisper gently into the desperate places of my soul. He will show me the path I should go - and then go there with me. And just as Tessa leans into her pony - so proud and pleased - I can feel my father leaning down close as I accept his outstretched hand: "Do not fear for I am here. Let Me be your strength as I carry you close."
And so I carve these moments into my day. Not to sit and ponder the wonders of the ages; rather, to notice the evidences of His Presence and Beauty, His Wisdom and Patience, His Smile and Approval, and even His gentle Correction - as I rest in His strength amidst the busyness of this season of life. Without Stillness, there is only striving. With Stillness, there is perspective. And with perspective, striving can cease...filling in its place hope, dreams, vision, renewal, vulnerability, grace, joy and peace.
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