"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." - Psalm 27:4
I left home last Sunday with my Bible, a journal, a sleeping bag, a tent, a suitcase, a bunch of non-perishable groceries, and an atlas. Plus the usual number of books I would not actually read. (You would think I would learn from these experiences, but no... you see, I might have time to read that one, and I need this one, just in case... etc. You never know...)
Milwaukee was the first minor adventure of the trip - as a person with no internal sense of direction (as in, if you say words like "north" and "east," my brain freezes up and I just get stupid for a second), I was less than thrilled when the signs saying things like "interstate closed ahead" and "detour" began appearing. But somehow I managed to actually follow the signs and ended up, having driven through several small Wisconsin towns that I may otherwise have never seen, back on the interstate. Kept driving for a bit, and eventually, around dinnertime, pulled off at a rest stop somewhere in the Black Hills of Wisconsin that promised a "scenic overlook." (Sidenote: If you are driving along and see a sign that says "scenic overlook," I would highly recommend pulling over and checking it out. Unless, perhaps, you are in South Dakota...)
The rest stop itself was fairly nice, and I found a picnic table in the sun and had dinner. Then I wandered off towards the part of the little park that I thought might be the overlook (as it wasn't really evident at first glance what one was supposed to be looking over). What I found was a trail, and it led up through the woods for quite a ways. I thought a couple of times about turning around and going back, but I pressed on and finally, after a bit, I came around a corner and found this lovely little spot.
This deck became, for a few moments, incredibly holy ground. I sat on the bench at the far end of the platform, and just looked at the beauty of the hills for awhile - then got out my Bible and began to read. I read Psalm 27 out loud. Have you ever done that? Just read the Word out loud when you're all by yourself? There's just something about saying the words aloud, out in the middle of nowhere - I don't know how to explain what happened, other to say that this psalm, which has been a theme psalm for me for months now anyway, became a very personal prayer for the whole trip in that moment. I genuinely prayed the words of this song up there in the hills, telling God how much I wanted to be in His presence and to be aware that I was... asking Him to make a straight path for me as I traveled, to guide me in where to go and what to do... and as I prayed, this verse jumped out at me: "My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Psalm 27:8) "God, I'm seeking You."
And His answer: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (v. 14). So many things I am waiting on Him for - but it is not a sitting around, doing nothing, sort of waiting - even when it looks (and sometimes feels) for all the world like it is... For these 5 days anyway, waiting on the Lord involved driving - and driving, and driving, and... - and seeking Him out. Letting go of my agenda, my plan, my idea of what the road should even be. Taking each moment as it came. Waiting to see what happened in the course of a day. And smiling.
I was struck so often, over the course of this trip, by a sudden realization that I was smiling. Just driving along. Grinning. I was happy. And I was aware that I was happy.
I'm not 100% sure why this surprised me, but it did. In a nice sort of way. The peace and ... quietness ... that filled my heart, especially over the first couple of days, was so needed, and so welcome. I actually succeeded in driving along, being happy, and not really thinking about much of anything. It was heavenly. Kind of like this view from that bench. :)