Saturday, June 07, 2014

That quiet voice

Today’s coffee: Brazil (from Tokumitsu, at home)

We just got back from a week of vacation at Toyako and Shikotsuko (two caldera lakes a couple hours south of here), with a walk or hike every day for 5 days! Although I’m fired up for hiking this summer, I have to say I sleep best on my own futon. Glad to be home! I’ll probably do a hiking post later this week.

We took a short walk to see some craters from recent volcanic eruptions near Toyako. This crater, called "Yu-kun," formed as the result of an eruption on my 19th birthday. Happy birthday to me? (Keith was resting from shaving this week.)
Today’s post will be short, I think. It’s Sunday morning, after all, and Sunday is by far the busiest and most tiring day of the week for us. If possible, we try to not have Sunday be our first day home after vacation, but this is how it worked out for our schedule this time.

When we go on vacation, we have an opportunity to set aside our normal daily activities (and to set aside worrying about those activities) and do something entirely different. This time, as is often the case on our vacations, the “entirely different” activities were hiking, onsen, and generally being quiet and enjoying nature. However, the temptation to continue worrying about various things was ever-present. In one such moment, a quiet voice, which could possibly have been God’s voice, said “Just listen.” I listened expectantly. “Maybe God wants to tell me something really important,” I thought. I heard the wind, the frogs in the rice paddy down the hill, the noisy semi (cicadas), birds. That was all. (Then I fell asleep.)

On vacation, I will often read through the Psalms of Ascent; this time I noticed that Psalms 127 and 128 seem to be a pair, with some interesting connections in the first two verses of each.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:1-2).

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:1-2).

These two psalms became a reminder to keep listening, to rest, to trust. God is God, and I am not. I suppose what I needed most was not some important revelation, but an invitation to stay close. It’s as if God was saying, “Enough running around in circles worrying about things. You’re tired, and being in my creation refreshes you. Just listen and enjoy.”

Perhaps Psalm 127 was the gentle rebuke that I needed, and Psalm 128 was the encouragement to move forward.

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