When I head up Highway 421 towards Boone, there’s a point where the hills get green and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains come into view. As I hit that point, something in my soul begins to settle, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the NC hills. Every part of me wants to absorb the mountains – I love to stand in the creeks and let the water run over my feet and to put my hands in and pick up smooth rocks; I pause on trails to feel the soft moss on fallen logs; I breathe deeply, smelling the fresh air; I take in the shadows and the greens and the splashes of color from wildflowers. Whether I am walking a trail or sitting in a meadow, my soul is both more awake and more at rest in the mountains.
Last week my family and I received the gift of being able to stay at a home in Blowing Rock, and not just any home – a home with every possible comfort, with a beautiful view off the back deck, and, best of all, a home that was given freely, not just the fact that we didn’t have to pay for it but also in the sense that the owners gave it with a generous, gracious spirit that enabled us to truly feel at home, not worrying about if we were going to mess things up. I left my laptop in Greensboro, and I was able to spend long days with my family, to connect with the Lord in the cool evenings on the porch, to walk and run the trails and begin to share my love of nature with my children.
Needless to say, driving home was hard. Diane and I knew what was waiting for us – a sick friend in her last days of life; back-to-school preparations and the inevitable adjustment period that comes with school’s start; jobs that we each enjoy yet demand a lot from us; less time together and with our kids. It was hard to not long for the mountains and the week that we’d had.
But yesterday morning at church, in the midst of my sadness and longing for the hills, we sang a song based on Psalm 121. “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” Ps 121:1-2
I realized that it could be easy to put my hope in the mountains, in their refreshment and rest, but really, without Christ, they are just big rocks covered with trees. My rest is not in the mountains but in God who made them, and God’s rest and presence is just as much available to me here in Greensboro as it is in Boone. Remembering that and setting my heart and hope on that truth is harder here. There are more things to distract from that truth. But I believe that our vacation gave me the opportunity to reset and refocus so that I could come home and depend anew on God.
Psalm 62:1 says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God alone,”, a truth statement. I experienced that truth in the mountains. Now at home, I am learning to live in Psalm 62:5 which says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God,” commanding my soul to live in truth. And God, my help and my maker, is helping me along that path of rest and hope in the midst of work and life.