My smile widens as I say with JOY that we were blessed with “winter” in south FL this year!!! Mind you, this is not the fresh blanket of snow, boots, scarves and sledding kind of winter – no, it will likely never be like that. But a south FL winter is truly lovely and when it lingers, especially in scattered days through the spring, I rejoice!!!
Picture it with me: cool, clear air (our only break from humidity all year!)… blue skies, sunshine, and puffy white, drifting clouds… gentle breezes wafting through open windows, tossing the curtains with each new gust… temperatures chilly enough at night to enjoy a cozy extra layer and the blanket on the bed, comfortable enough during the day to wear long sleeves and carry groceries in from the car without sweating… and bougainvillea and impatiens bursting with color, equally thriving in the cool, dry conditions. The house is quiet! We trade the constant hum of the A/C units for the sound of chirping birds and palm fronds rustling in the breeze. For the few weeks that we embrace this glorious weather, I treasure lazy Saturday mornings, still in flannel PJs, socks and a sweatshirt, sipping a steaming mug of peppermint mocha!
Then… imagine with me the jolting reality of insta-summer crashing in on my favorite season in south FL! Suddenly it is 90 degrees, the humidity thick enough to see with the naked eye, and the skies darken and crash with thunder and lightning every afternoon for weeks. Just as suddenly, my mood takes a nosedive. I am not happy. Not one bit. On too many days, the whole unwelcome shift makes me down right grumpy!
And just like that, everything else seems thick and heavy and overwhelming and dark too. My whole perspective shifts. Seeds of discontent sink deeper, temptations to fear loom larger, frustrations mount and suddenly everything I touch feels like a failure.
I catch myself saying out loud, “this is SILLY! RIDICULOUS that weather could have this impact on me!” So on one particularly aggravating day, I grabbed my running shoes to pound this all out on the pavement but the latest storm and soaring temperatures chased me inside. With another shameful grumble I headed toward our community fitness center to pound the treadmill instead.
The truth is, I am spoiled to have a fitness center to go to! And our community is blessed to have fancy treadmills with on-screen courses to view amazing natural beauty by video while running. So already, I needed to confess my ungratefulness and whisper a “THANK YOU” to the Lord for His graciousness!
I “ran” a course called Trinity Mountains, filmed in California. About 20 minutes into my run, I was captivated by a mountain of green to the left of the screen, an ocean of blue to the right and an expanse of sandy beach up the middle. Even in video form it was breathtaking!
Still sorting out my clouded brain, I remembered a comment our BSF teaching leader made recently about how many of us would choose the beach or the mountains as a favorite vacation spot. She believes this may be due, in part, to an innate longing to be dwarfed by something, by some One. As we ponder the greatness of God, the magnitude of His creation in those mountains, the vastness of those oceans along those beaches, we gain fresh perspective about whatever we are facing.
Right there on the screen I was being reminded of how BIG God is in relation to my struggles… and how little those struggles can become when matched up against the power and eternal purposes of Almighty God. Those nagging unmet expectations (true or perceived) that sink me into discontentment, those news reports that make my heart race and spike fear to alarming levels in my mind, those frustrations big or small that leave me with a self-label of “failure”… the boundless glimpses of God’s creation dwarf them all. A reminder of Who He is – His love and care for me, His perfect plans and purposes – dwarfs anything that draws me away from Him, that steals my sense of stability, joy or peace.
In these places of staggering, God-created beauty, the cares of life seem to waft away on the breeze or shrink down to size and sweep out to sea with the tide. Somehow, there, I can let it all go and just breathe…
My Creator God is bigger than me – WAY, way bigger! Nothing surprises Him, nothing shakes Him, nothing derails His plans. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am fickle, He is steadfast. Even when I am ungrateful, He is still loves and provides for me unconditionally. When I humble my heart and confess my thanklessness, He is gracious and forgiving.
My Savior loves me enough to want to fix what’s broken. He allows change to rattle me to show me He is the solid rock to stand on. He allows struggles and frustration to bring out the dark sides of my heart to show me that He can do a work in me to knock off those rough edges. He allows my plans to fail to show me that my best investment is always in His plans, not mine. He allows me to feel fear to show me that the reality of His Presence and the truth of His Word bring comfort that is real and unshakeable.
My God is bigger – than everything. I can trust Him. In His safe embrace, I can breathe. As my vision of Him expands, my perspective on everything else, including me, shrinks to its appropriate and manageable size – one that honors God because I acknowledge that He has a perfect and eternally purposeful plan in all things.
He invites me to kneel and quiet my heart
He invites me to His table, to remember His eternal provision
He invites me to be still, in worshipful satisfaction
He invites me to His throne, to make requests with thanksgiving
He invites me to be engulfed by His great love,
for it is vast and it is sufficient
His very Presence is my soul’s rest