So how often is it the case that you can have a lovely relaxing holiday (as relaxing as it can be with a toddler), and then the moment you are back home life goes back to frenzy level. We arrived home late Saturday evening, then were at church first thing the next morning in the worship team, and then had our son’s 2nd birthday party. It feels like we have been on the go ever since.
Something that I appreciated on holiday was having some time where I could just be. I was able to go for some walks by the sea and natter away to God and to take some time away from all my normal distractions and have some time to read. A subject I have recently been looking into ‘creatively’ is the story of the prodigal son. As I was looking at some possible books to read on the matter I was led to a book by the Christian writer Henri Nouwen. Now I usually race through a book on holiday yet this one took the best of 6 days. This wasn’t because it was a long book but because this book challenged me, inspired me and moved me so much that I had to work slowly through it. I had to pray through each bit and ask God to challenge me in certain areas and examine areas of my life that I need to change.
The book is called ‘The return of the prodigal son’ and it looks at Nouwen’s encounter with the Rembrandt painting of the prodigal son returning. What seems to be a ‘chance’ encounter with this painting begins a soul searching journey into the hearts and depth of the story of the prodigal son. A journey to understanding more of our Father God’s heart and love for us. He looks at the three characters in the story in depth and talks about how he identifies traits in himself with each character. What hit me was how what he was saying, and how he was saying it, felt like he was looking at the depths of my heart, my insecurities, worries and failings and writing them down. It was so honest, human and real. I found this encouraging. I highly recommend this book – if you want to be challenged, encouraged, inspired and stretched then do have a read. It has reminded me that we are on a journey and that there is still many areas in my life that I need to allow God into. I need more of God’s grace, love, peace, joy and wisdom in my life.
Something that it also made me think about was how often it can be so easy to get caught him in serving and ‘doing’ things for God. Sometimes we allow such busy-ness to take over and we can almost forget why or who we are trying to serve. This is definitely an area I need to work on. I am a doer and I feel that God is slowly and gently teaching me about the importance of stopping, listening and letting his words breathe life, healing and joy into my soul. The story that keeps coming back to me is about Mary and Martha in the Bible. Martha is so desperate to serve Jesus in preparing a meal, etc. that she gets cross at Mary who is ‘just’ listening to Jesus. Instead of agreeing with her point Jesus affirms the importance of what Mary is doing. I know that in my own life, especially when it is so hectic, I need to stop and sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. I need to remember why, and who I am doing it for, and to not let my duties dim the love, joy and importance of having a relationship with God.
I encourage you this week to take a few minutes out of the busy-ness to stop and to listen to what God has to say to you.