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Along a Gravel Road


This little quiet time experience came to me while I was up at the Prayer Cabin one hot summer weekend. I pray that it will refresh you when you are weary...

Before you get started, take a moment or two to quiet your spirit before the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to breathe creativity into you that He may speak deep into your heart. 

Now, read each of the following lines carefully; picture yourself in the scene. 

• The morning greets you with clean, crisp air and crystal blue skies. After awakening to what has seemed an endless onslaught of gloomy days, you feel the need to take advantage of this glorious one, so you slip on your shoes and sneak out the back door to take a walk...alone. 

Picture yourself heading outside... 

• It is not long, however, before your mind becomes preoccupied with the events of the last few days. In fact, life has been so busy lately it is hard to even recount all that has transpired. As you begin to make your way down your block, your thoughts take a different turn. You begin to create a checklist in your mind of the things yet to do.

What thoughts or feelings does this bring forward? 

• Unconsciously, you turn down a little gravel road...one you have never noticed existed before. Along this dusty, winding byway, knee-high fields of grass, laden with seed heads, rise up around you. A soft breeze rustles over them making their rolling hills look like waves on a sea of green. 

 A butterfly flits and flutters nearby; its presence suddenly makes you aware of your surroundings. It reminds you of the times you've pulled into the grocery store parking lot and suddenly realized that you don't even remember the drive there...you were so lost in thought. 

Has this happened to you? What thoughts went though your mind? 

• At first, you feel a sense of alarm rise within you. "Where am I?" Then, just as quickly, you realize you are not far from home...though it feels like you are a world away. You continue onward. You lift your face toward the sun and feel its warm embrace. With every step you take, little clouds of dust rise from the gravel path and swirl around your feet. The earth is dry...and though you would prefer not to admit it, you recognize that its state reflects the unfortunate condition of your heart as of late. It reminds you of David's words in Psalm 63:1 that speak of a dry and weary land where there is no water. You realize that it has been a long time since you have satisfied the gnawing thirst in your soul for God. True...you sprinkle your soul now and again. "A sprinkling is all I have time for," you tell yourself, but the quick fix does not satisfy for long.

Meditate on the following Scripture:

"As the deer pants for streams of water – so my soul pants for You, O God! My soul thirsts for God – for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2 

What words or phrases whisper to your heart as you read this verse? How might time with God quench one's dried-up heart?  

• Breaking through your thoughts, you hear what seems to be a voice calling your name. The sound is so faint, you wonder if it may have just been the wind whistling through the grove of trees a short distance away. To your amazement, you discover a freshly-cut path through the tall grass winding its way down into the grove, and you decide to follow it to escape the sun's strengthening rays. Reaching out with both hands, you let your fingertips skim across the tops of the grass as you walk along. It reminds you of Isaiah's words in 40:8..."the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Then the solemn words of Psalm 103:15-16 strikes you..."but, mans days are like grass – the wind blows over them and they are gone!" You pick one of the blades, rolling it around in your fingers, then whisper, "This is me, God. The things I get so caught up in...the schedules and flurry of activities that often edge You out...will one day fade away, but my relationship with You will go on for all eternity. Help me to weigh everything I do with this in mind!" 

What impact might this have on your life if you lived this out? 

• As you enter the woods, you notice immediately that the air is cool and refreshing. The path leads you past feathery ferns and an occasional moss-covered boulder. Under the canopy of trees you feel safe and protected...as if under the shelter of God's wings! You slow your pace, and turn yourself in a circle taking in the beauty of the forest. 

The sweet fragrance of heather hangs lightly in the air. All of your senses come alive. Standing there quietly, your ears begin to tune into the hymn of praise that the birds, who make this woods their home, are singing. While some chirp sweetly and others sing in rounds, the familiar caw of a crow breaks in. The sound makes you chuckle! Not all of us have the "gift" of a beautiful singing voice you think to yourself! You decide to join them and "make a joyful noise" of praise as well. 

Think of a verse or two of your favorite praise song or hymn and jot it down. Listen as they sing in your heart. Or sing out loud if you feel so led! 

• You soon find yourself singing at the top of your lungs as you make your way deeper into the woods. How good it feels to praise the Creator of this amazing world you live in! When you stop singing, however, you hear what seems like a distant thunder. "Oh no!" you cry, thinking it may be a storm brewing. But, the longer you listen, the more you realize that what you hear is the thundering of a waterfall. You pick up your pace. The sound grows louder and louder until around a bend in the path, you come upon a large pool of water where a river is spilling its contents down the side of a cliff wall and into its waiting arms. Your physical thirst causes you to drop to your knees and drink in the life-giving water. Getting up, you slip off shoes and skim the surface of the water with your toes. The thundering water seems to be speaking your name. It nudges you to step in...it calls you to dive deeply into the healing waters...it tells you to immerse yourself in the love of a God who led you to this very place to restore your dry and thirsty soul. 

Envision yourself sliding into the cool invigorating depths. When you surface, you wipe the water out of your eyes and lie back to float there awhile. You hear the Lord speak your name (try to imagine the sound). Then you hear Him say..."I long to lead you beside quiet waters, I long to restore your soul. Remember how this feels sweet one...don't wait so long to come to Me. Know that I will be waiting!" 

• Stepping back out of the water, you sense that it is time to make your way back home. As you cross under the canopy of trees, out past the high grasses and back down your street, a gentle breeze sweeps and swirls around you. The effects of it and the warm, autumn sun dry your clothes and make you keenly aware of the very real presence of the Holy Spirit walking beside you. With each step that you take, you know that He is strengthening you and preparing you once more to live out God's heart in the world that He has placed you. 

Thank Him for filling and refreshing you.

And remember, if you pray...He will listen. If you look for Him in earnest, you WILL find Him. And that's a promise you can count on! 

Jeremiah 29:13

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Julie has been inspiring children, youth, and women as a speaker, teacher, silent retreat leader, author and mentor for over 30 years. She was the Director of Women's Bible Studies at Eagle Brook Church, is a certified Spiritual Director and the owner of Heart Matters Publishing Company. She is an alumnus of Bethel University and Christos Center for Spiritual Formation. As an author she has written Bible Study Curriculum and Devotionals, including her latest collaboration, Whispers of God's Grace. Julie draws on her wide range of life experiences, humor and love of God's Word and His creation for her writing. When she is not writing, you will find her absorbed in a good book, puttering in her garden or dreaming of France. Julie and her husband, Rey, live in White Bear Lake, MN and are the parents of two grown sons, Erik and Kyle.


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