As I was walking along the open pasture I stopped for a moment to look down the hill. I stopped at this particular point because I was looking down a wooded draw, a narrow strip of woods covering a low portion between two pastured hills. Beginning at the top of the hill where I stood it came almost to a point, with only one tree. But as I looked down the draw the wooded path widened, gradually, in proportion to the ravine emptying into a completely wooded hillside almost 200 yards below. The oaks and other broadleaf trees were mostly bare this November day. Their trunks and limbs different shades of gray mixed in with evergreens of all sizes and the multi-colored leaves on the ground, dead branches, and large rocks was truly a thing of beauty.
As I stood there I thought of how beautiful a sight it truly was. To some it might seem as a cold, barren woods; something to be avoided. But to me it was a piece of God’s creation that beckoned me and brought peace and joy to my soul. I love the outdoors and a sight like this, especially this time of year, is unmatched. I drank it in for a moment then continued my trek along the downhill pasture beside the finger of woods and walked into the wooded hillside where I climbed a ladder attached to one of the trees and sat down for an afternoon of quiet, peaceful, joy observing this small corner of God’s creation.
We all need a place, a hobby, or thing of rest and restoration. A place to go, to get away from the hustle and bustle of our normal busy lives. My wife retreats to a book. For me it is the outdoors, especially in the Autumn woods. Many people today attempt to finds this retreat in TV, watching sports, playing video games, surfing the internet, even gambling at casinos. None of these, in my opinion, can bring the restoration needed in our lives. They may give us a break, and take our minds away from the current turmoil in our life, but in most cases we are filling our minds with other “things” not allowing for the needed clearing out for a brief time. Some even lead to addiction and create more anxiety in our lives. This is not the kind of break we need.
In a recent coaching session with a pastor whose life seems to be on overload, leading an 1800 member congregation, we were discussing his need for decompression, retreat, and restoration. I posed the following question: “Where is the one place you can clear your mind, set aside the ministry for a few hours and allow God to give you that needed break and restoration? Not to take a vacation and get away for two weeks, but that place (or thing) where you can go regularly for a brief visit? Following a few seconds of thought his response was, “the golf course.” I posed a couple more questions probing the idea. I know for me the golf course does not work. When I play golf, it is usually with other ministers and we talk about ministry most of the golfing venture. But I discovered for this pastor it truly was his getaway. He could set aside ministry and clear his head of the many daunting tasks at hand for a few hours, concentrating only on his golf game while enjoying the beauty of the golf course. Living in a warm, sunny state, he now sets aside Monday, his day off, and plays golf on a regular basis (weekly when he can).
God has given each one of us a passion. Somewhere in that body of passion we can find that place, hobby, or idea that can bring the rest and restoration we all need. Seek it out. Unearth your place and passion. Be certain it is doing something where you can sit all other things aside and not carry your burden into the activity. To be restored and refreshed you must have a change of venue and a change of mind. Also, be certain it is not doing something that might get you discouraged or disgruntled (as the golf course might for me). Here are a couple of questions to get you started.
What do you have a passion for that is totally separate from your normal activities?
Where is the one place you can clear your mind and set aside your normal life’s activities for a few hours and allow God to give you that needed break and restoration?
Could this lead to an addiction bringing more anxiety to my life? (social media, a visit to a casino, watching certain TV programs, video games) If so scrap the idea and begin again with the first question.