Last June, I had a dental appointment, needing filling redone. After the procedure, the dentist was going to adjust my bite with the new filling, but since my mouth was still numb, it was difficult for me to tell if it was off. So, I had to wait an hour or so for the anesthetic to wear off. The clinic was nestled among the trees and surrounded by a stream. So on that beautiful day, I took a walk as I waited.
I walked over to the stream and observed its beauty. It was wonderful. I watch the current flow down the stream. It confirmed in me that I prefer rivers and streams then bodies of water. Rivers and streams are always moving, always going somewhere. They turn and twist and you never know what’s around the corner. I ask God to always be moving in my life.
It was a bit chilly as my spot was in the shade, so I continued on. I followed the stream and continued to admire it as I walked. I found a nice place and stopped again to gaze upon the flow of water. However, I was quickly prodded on once the bugs found me. So I kept walking.
I stopped again as a beautify butterfly flitted around me. I admired its beauty as it danced around me. Then it floated down the trail, in which I naturally took off to follow it. It took one too many turns that I could no longer follow and watched it drift away.
I continued down the trail, in which I found a bridge going over the stream, and it is there where nature revealed its messages to me. The sun shined every so brightly as I stood in warmth looking over the railing at the flowing water down below. I used this time to ponder questions that were going through my mind. I was struggling with the different thoughts on healing. I asked God to teach me something about healing and help sort out the questions in my mind. I did not expect any answers or at least not in the next few moments.
I turned my focus on the beautiful trees that hugged the stream. It was with those trees, God began to teach me about healing. I sensed him asking me, “What do the trees do?” I thought for a moment and replied, “Grow.” I pondered for awhile about that. “All trees do is grow. They don’t move, they don’t think, they don’t speak. They only thing they do is grow.” God continued to teach me through my thoughts. “They will keep growing as long as they get the right nutrients they need or nothing inhibits their growth.” God reminded me how the human body is very similar. From the moment we were conceived, we constantly have been growing. Even when our body’s frame stops growing, we continue to grow within our bodies. We are constantly growing new cells in our body, replacing old cells with new ones. That is how our bodies heal themselves, given the right environment and nothing impedes it.
Right then it click! Healing is really growing. Growing is really healing. When someone asks to be healed, they are really asking to grow. When someone wants to help heal another, they really want to help that person grow. So, whether I am physically healed or not, my focus should be on growth.
That answer satisfied my inquiries and thanked God for speaking with me. I thought our conversation was over, but He proceeded to discuss the summer’s camp theme – Journey.
God reminded me of the events that took place on this little journey I had walking along the stream. I initially stood at the river bank admiring it’s wonderment; however, several things pushed me along to keep going. First, it was the chilled wind and then the bugs. So, I realized that value of the discomfort; it kept me moving forward on the journey. But then he also reminded me that I was prompted to keep moving by the butterfly. Beauty and wonderment also have the ability to keep us moving forward.
From there, I begin to ponder more about things that keep us moving forward and things that keep us stuck. Fear was the first thing that came to mind. We often are afraid to move forward, not knowing what’s ahead. Fear keeps us locked and frozen where we are. The picture that came to mind was being trapped in a burning house. I could be deathly afraid of jumping out the window or pacing through flames to get out of the house. I may be filled with so much fear that I literally may physically freeze, unable to move to safety. That fear would keep me stuck, unable to escape the inevitable death. On the other hand it could be that very fear that actually drives us! In the same picture of a being trapped in a burning house, a strong fear of death could propel me to move, and move fast.
I thought of another scenario, much like the last. However, instead of a burning house, the picture that came to me was an oncoming bear. Once again, that fear can move us or freeze us. If I see an approaching bear, my fear may cause me not to move, but drop and play dead. Which, is a potential safe option. That fear, once again, could be so overwhelming that I completely freeze, unable to do anything. Now, for some, that fear may also drive someone to move. I may see a nearby building that offered a safe place. So, that fear would push me to move to safety.
That brought up another thing that has the ability to move us, as well as, freeze us; safety. We often think of the concept of safety as something that keeps us from moving. I’m in a safe place, I don’t want to move. However, safety can also drive us. If that bear is behind me and I am able to make it to a safe place, I’m going to move! If the house is on fire, I need to move to a safer place.
I began to think of the many things that move or freeze us. Comfort, love, wonderment, excitement, pain, and the list can go on. My natural tendency was to then ask, “Is moving forward always good? Is freezing bad? In the instant of seeing a bear, dropping to the ground and freezing is probably the best option. Not moving is actually purposeful. However, once the bear is long gone, staying frozen is no longer needed and unproductive. There are definitely moments when we need to move and when we need to stay still.
Most of these thoughts revolved around the concept of safety. What is the safest? My logical response to the good and bad of moving forward was solely based on safety. So, I wanted to ask those questions again without answering them on the basis of safety.
That brought me back to the concept of growth. Moving forward is good if it grows us closer to God and, likewise, staying still is good if that grows us closer to God. In essence, that is how we should judge whether anything is good or bad. Does it make us grow closer to God? Are we growing? Are we being healed? I believe God gives us each a different Journey, moving us forward, keeping us still, taking steps backwards with the use of discomfort or pleasure... whatever we need to help us grow closer to him.
(Thanks Dr. Cook for such a beautiful place to be!)