So, we just got back from an amazing anniversary trip in Portugal. It was so relaxing and refreshing: good memories with the best of friends - just what the doctor ordered! On the last leg of the trip, we stayed in the most amazing hotel in Porto, complete with an incredible spa (a good thing because the weather ended up being terrible, and we used it quite a bit!) On the last day, Tiffany and I decided to get a spa treatment before the long plane ride home - one last chance to relax before returning to reality. We signed up for the Honey & Wine Wrap; neither of us had ever done a wrap before, but the description sounded just right: a moisturizing immunity booster. ‚ÄúWraps are intensive beauty treatments for the body that eliminate toxins and improve skin tone and contouring. They energize and moisturize the skin whilst providing deep relaxation.‚Äù Well, let‚Äôs just say the description is a little more convincing that the actual experience. They rub you down all over with honey and oil, wrap you up tightly in (what felt like) plastic wrap, then a tighter, heavier warm blanket. You were sucked in tight like a swaddled newborn; it was dark, hot, and you couldn‚Äôt move, like being in a cocoon! Then the therapist leaned over in my ear and whispered, ‚Äúyou will just be still 20 minutes. ‚ÄúWhat?! Anxiously moving around, many thoughts ran through my head: "You are not seriously leaving me here right? Aren‚Äôt you going to rub me some more? No wonder this was the cheapest treatment on the list! Please come back! I think I‚Äôm going to suffocate! Will I be able to get out of here if there is an emergency!? Where‚Äôs Tiffany? She has got to be freaking out!‚Äù... I finally heard in my soul say: be still - it is in the silence and stillness where you will be refreshed and renewed. Perfect silence. This was the only way God could get me to stop moving and thinking even on vacation - it was a literal force of solitude!
Be still, and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10One of the greatest lessons I learned in a women‚Äôs leadership development class at our church a few years ago is the importance of solitude. And although I‚Äôve been a Christian almost all my life, it is a discipline I never really knew until now. It is so hard to learn to do and so easily swept under the rug to busyness! It‚Äôs easy to say it‚Äôs good enough that I read my bible and do my devotion (or if you are type A like me, to check those off the list.) But I‚Äôve found that it‚Äôs in the silence that the real soul changing happens. Only there can God really take control from us - especially for people like me who have such a control issue! My favorite book from this class was ‚ÄúStrengthening the Soul of Your Leadership‚Äù by Ruth Haley Barton. I highly recommend - it‚Äôs literally life-changing!
She describes it so well in the book: ‚ÄúSolitude and silence in particular enable us to experience a place of authenticity within and to invite God to meet us there. In solitude, we are rescued from the relentless human striving to solve the challenges... in silence we give up control and allow God to be God in our life rather than being a thought in our head or an illustration in a sermon.‚ÄùAlthough very difficult, it‚Äôs really simple. You can‚Äôt force it or work harder to make it happen - you just sit quietly in God‚Äôs presence.
‚Äú...most of what is happening is under the surface, and God is doing it ‚Ä¶ Just as the physical law of gravity ensures that sediment swirling in a jar of muddy river water will eventually settle and the water will become clear, so the spiritual law of gravity ensures that the chaos of the human soul will settle if it sits long enough.‚Äù - BartonSuch a beautiful picture and truth: ‚ÄúThe LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.‚Äù Exodus 14:14 Although the wrap was not all I planned or hoped for, it was just what I needed. To be reminded that the stillness and quietness, letting go of my control, is His perfect prescription for refreshment.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‚ÄúIn returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.‚Äù Isaiah 30:15As we landed in Jacksonville at 1:00am (which felt like 6:00am Portugal time), I started to think about all the things that were waiting for me at work, what I needed to catch up on, and the list continued to grow out of control. I rubbed the back of my neck, felt the oily, stickiness of the honey, and had to laugh - it felt like a subtle reminder to be still. I don‚Äôt know how soon I‚Äôll be wrapped back up in honey and wine, but I won‚Äôt soon forget the true sweetness of the time spent in solitude.
Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healing for the body. Proverbs 16:24