Hi, Rob here. In the weekend David and I got away for a retreat to Ted’s Hut, in Hawke’s Bay, the place where we ran our men’s retreat earlier in the year. We got away to catch up, plan and pray, and to seek out wilderness. It was good. One of the things I love about living in New Zealand is that wild beauty is never far away. After an hours drive north we found ourselves on a remote gravel road heading towards the entrance to Shine Falls. We entered a world of farmland surrounded by sandstone cliffs, giving away to native bush filled with birdsong, and then the spectacular Shine Falls. My heart leapt at the sight.
Our hearts are made for this kind of beauty. It acts as a rescue to us because so much of our lives are given over to the mundane and the convenient. While the life of work and family carries many rewards along with many challenges, every now and again God calls us to get out of that space and dwell with him in a way that opens our hearts to him afresh. Jesus invites us in Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
These verses are about much more than spending some time in the wilderness but the wilderness is a very good place to start. Like me you might be a city-dweller and wondering how to go about getting regular wilderness time. Start by looking around. Is there a park nearby? What about a river or a lake? Are there any hills to climb or gardens to explore? What about a desert sky or the beach or a forest? Just go anywhere that’s out of the ordinary urban or suburban landscape and soak it in. Simply go there and stay put for a while. Gaze upon it, listen to it, touch it, reflect on it and let God into our busy lives, our worries, fears and frustrations. The whole point of this exercise is to hear more clearly, let go more easily and surrender more readily so don’t push, rush, strive or arrange. God is there ahead of us. We just need to wake up and slow down.
The wilderness is not a quick fix or a cure-all. We will come home to decisions needing to be made in the midst of a busy world. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll enter into that space with our heart strengthened, our mind renewed, our soul at peace. Maybe we’ll enter into that space with the ability to be present and engaged at a deeper level just as God was with us. Maybe we’ll get the courage to seek the help we need or say the words we’ve been needing to say. Maybe our prayers will be meant and the Word will make more sense. Maybe we’ll have a greater sense of how deeply we are loved and how precious we are to our divine Father. This is some of how I’m feeling today and I’m grateful for a creation that drew me into wonder and joy as I got away with a good friend and a great God.