by Terry Magness
An amazing tree-covered lane near my home is one of those take-a-deep-breath-and-let-it-all-go places. You know what I mean. Exiting the main road onto a rural farm road after a harrowing day in traffic, a half-mile canopy of sheltering branches opens its arms to welcome you. Streaming sunlight casts wonderful limbed shadows across your path while squirrels scamper for walnuts dropped on purpose. The white flash of a deer's tail appears suddenly, as he jumps the fence, hides in the woods, and watches just feet from your passing car. Startled by a stranger on his turf, a raccoon quickly rushes into the brush. In your heart you know all is well with the world.
As a visual person, serene beauty like this brings healing relief from the stresses of the day. Eagerly entering its sanctuary, I find myself wanting to slow down and soak awhile in its peace. What an earthly reminder, yet merely a taste of the glory awaiting us in the secret place of the Most High.
A few weeks ago a strewn beer carton and plastic bottle shouted to me from the side of our beloved lane. Their presence desecrated and marred its beauty.
“Someone needs to pick this stuff up,” I muttered to myself.
Running behind, I drove on home. The next day, a paper drinking cup carried by the breeze, bounced along the pavement.
Not wanting to be late for my appointment, I thought, “I can pick it up on my way back.”
By the time I returned, it was after dark, and I simply couldn’t be out on that rural road alone at night, right?
Discarded items continued accumulating alongside my peaceful tree-covered lane until one day wrapped bundles of blue shredded hay bale plastic appeared scattered along the entire center section of road. I shook my head in dismay, but it was too cold to stop and pick up all that stuff. Surely, the farmer who lost it will see it the next time through and retrieve it.
Each day I dodged those ugly clumps of blue plastic and tried my best to ignore the other litter invading my space. My displeasure and focus upon these unexpected distractions grew in intensity until they robbed me of my peace and tranquility. It hurt my heart to see them lying there. Angry and agitated, I could no longer see the beauty here or feel the breath of God on my face.
It was then I realized I must seek refuge in another beauty-beyond-description place nearby, a heavenly haven available to me anytime I choose to enter in. In this secret place, under the sheltering outstretched arms of Jesus, I can see the situation from His vast perspective. In this wonderful place He shields me from the earthly, the rude and insolent assaults of each day. I am reprieved from distractions and narrow escapes on the noisy and congested road of life. I am cleansed of the dingy road film and mud that clouds my understanding, brings shame, and hides the pure. I am freed from the distractions and trials of the day that seek to bury me in their lies. Here in this place I am refreshed, energized, and healed from the abuses of life. I am strengthened and delivered from all the cares and worries that strangle my God-given vision and stifle His creativity in me. It is in this beautiful atmosphere, I receive an attitude adjustment.
With my focus upon the Lord, attitudes that held me captive to any number of emotions and behaviors changed. No longer honing in on the way I want things to be, my yearning heart enters His presence and finds rest.
The following day I again turned the corner onto the beloved lane near my home. Sun glistened through the bare limbs of the trees pouring its warmth through my windows. In the beauty of that place and in the warmth of His nearness, my soul filled with surrendered love and gratitude. . .just as my eyes fell upon one of those clumps of plastic.
Pulling to the side of the road, I put my car in park, got out, picked up the bundle, and put it in the back floorboard. I got back behind the wheel, drove to the next pile, and picked it up. . .then the next, and the next, until every pile had been retrieved, as well as the beer carton, and a plastic bottle or two. What joy! A great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment swept over me as I threw the last of that unsightly pile into our trash dumpster. I felt free! With the right focus intact, beauty, order, and rest was restored to our beautiful lane. . .but most importantly, these priceless essentials were restored in me.
Terry Magness has been in Christian ministry for forty years, is a licensed minister, author, pastoral counselor to church leaders, missionary, and founder of Grace Harbour Ministries, a Bible based international teaching and discipleship ministry to women. She oversees and teaches needs-based Overcomers classes in her local church, dedicated to helping men and women apply Biblical principles to every life situations. Terry is a lover of people in general, and her family in particular. She enjoys good friends, stimulating conversation, writing, photography, and fishing with her husband, Don.