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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Places That Heal

 "Alaska is a great place to heal," the soldier said to me. He had just returned from Afghanistan and was describing to me the healing impact that the outdoors was having on him. Even though winter was settling in, he emphasized that there was no where he wanted to be more than here. The beautiful was washing away the ugly...
  His words got me thinking about a powerful truth: each of us must find our "healing" place. We must discover that spot where, in our hour of need, we can get away and silence the noise of life. As I pondered the soldier's statement, I began to view my "backyard" - the beautiful part of the world in which I live - perhaps a bit differently. I thought back to the many times in my own life when the pain became heavy, the stress nearly unbearable, and I sought tranquility. Often, it came right outside my window. 
  I live in a wooded suburb. Birds, squirrels, a beautiful creek running past my house - these are all around me. But I catch myself, force myself even, to stop the craziness inside and appreciate God's beauty. 

  Over time, as I have taken road trips around my home state, I have discovered other "healing" places - locations where I can cease the obligatory activity and quiet my soul. See, for all of modern medicine's advancements, there are still some things that only God can truly heal. And He often uses His creation to remind us of His presence, to tell us that He cares about us and loves us deeply. The Psalmist once observed, while gazing at the nighttime sky, 

"When I consider Your heavens...what is man... that you take notice
of him?"  (Ps. 8:4)

He was humbled by God's grace. He sensed God's peace. And he thanked Him. When the pain of life presses, when the griefs seem to multiply, maybe we need to seek a certain somewhere, a place free from the busyness where we can hear our own heart-cries. In the emptiness we feel, we can then hear the voice of God whispering peace to our soul. The One who calmed the sea can calm any storm that rises in me or you. But it's hard to listen when the cares are many. It's hard to stop and hear when work, family, school - even church - demand our time. Sometimes, a "healing" place is what is needed. A spot where we can commune with God.
  The soldier was right. I thank him for saying what he did that day. Because of his simple statement, I have come to see the world around me in a new and wonderful way. Every mountain peak, every flower, every bird - these remind me, in the times I need it most, that my God loves me and that I am made for Him. A thought like that is enough to drive away the fear, to give me the strength to press on, no matter what a day may bring. And it makes me want to thank, too - like the Psalmist. To be grateful that, in this world, God still brings beauty in the ugly. That God still restores my soul and places it to rest beside still waters (Ps. 23:2).