I thought it would have changed more by now. But I came to understand why it hadn’t, and my understanding took a worship walk in a whole new direction.
I was on a return hike in La Jolla Canyon as part of my eagerness to watch it recover from last Spring’s wildfire (you can see my first post about this canyon here). I had hoped to find progress, growth, new greenery, and other indicators of recovery. But sadly, not much had changed. In fact, it looked almost exactly like it had before.
As I hiked the ash-covered trail, it dawned on me why the restoration had not yet taken hold.
It hasn’t rained yet.
We like to say that “time heals all wounds.” But in the case of La Jolla Canyon, time alone is not enough. Time plus rain, time plus refreshment, time plus water, will begin to restore this seaside canyon to its pre-fire beauty.
That shouldn’t have surprised me, because time alone has never been enough to truly heal my wounds. The most significant wildfire in my life occurred in 2007, when we lost three close family members in the space of four months. The losses piled one on top of the other, as we buried first my mother-in-law, then my brother, and finally my father. It was a time of condensed pain like I had never felt before, and hope to never feel again.
Time passed, and the intensity of the grief diminished. The “new normal” took over, and we moved forward. But I slowly entered a hard place. Call it depression, call it “the dark night of the soul,” call it what you will – I was functioning, but I wasn’t healthy, and I wasn’t healing. Time alone was not enough.
I needed rain.
For me, that rain began two years ago. I learned that good things happen to a heart that slows down long enough to search for the rest that Jesus promises to the “weary and heavy-laden” who come to Him (Matthew 11:28). I learned the value of regular, long and uninterrupted time with the God who promises to be near to the broken-hearted (Ps. 34:18). I accepted Christ’s invitation to “come away … to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
When I committed myself to the diligent pursuit of God’s gift of Sabbath rest, it began to rain. The rain brought healing, and restored color, and granted perspective, and began to turn ashes into flowers.
Ashes still outnumber the flowers in La Jolla Canyon. But when I reflected that day on what I had learned about rest and the value of refreshment, I added a new prayer to my worship walk. In the midst of the moonscape of destruction and death, I whispered a simple four-word prayer: “Lord, rain on me.”
And He did. For the next hour of hiking, I found myself in a moveable rain shower as I rested in what I know to be true of Him, reveled in His goodness, thanked Him for His compassion, leaned into His forgiveness, stood in awe of His holiness. It was a uniquely refreshing time, especially in light of the stark contrast with my surroundings.
I start each of my Sabbath hikes by reciting Jeremiah 6:16, in which God commands Israel to walk in the ancient paths, where they will find rest for their souls. I am now adding this prayer to the start of each Sabbath moment: “Lord, rain on me.”
I like the rain.
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