Monday, September 26, 2011

this is the way; walk in it.

As a student at Tabor, Judy Harder (a communication/theater professor) introduced us (a class) to her prayer labyrinth.She welcomed us at any time to come and walk the labyrinth if we needed it... if our soul needed it.

What's a prayer labyrinth? Looks like this:


But Judy's was just made of grass that had been mowed or beaten down. Something a little more like this: (not exactly, but closer to this)


The described purposes of prayer walks or prayer labyrinths vary, and I won't pretend to be a specialist. Instead of copy and pasting a description from google, I am just going to recall what I remember from it. The path is not straight to the center, and often one must make a u-turn in order to get closer to the center and follow the path. When you walk the path with its many unexpected turns that cannot always be seen up ahead you allow it to symbolize your walk with Christ. You can pray, meditate, or simply listen for the still small voice of God. The walk to the center allows you to quiet your mind and your soul and your body. For me, when I reached the center, it symbolized meeting God in a sacred place.

During a very difficult time at Tabor--a difficult time that would seem so little less than a year later when life really did take a turn for the worst--I took Judy up on her offer and I went to the prayer labyrinth.

I took my Bible with me and walked the path. Some of the walk I cried out... other parts of the walk I just stepped quietly... I took every step rather slowly. When I reached the center I sat down on the ground and opened my Bible. I very simply said to The Lord, "I do not know where to turn. I do not know where to start. Please... just show yourself to me."

I was led to the following passage in Isaiah 30.

15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

This was in 2005 that I stumbled across this passage and still today they remain my 'life verses'. In fact, after I was in the car accident in January 2006 and struggled greatly with PTSD and Depression it became even more pertinent in my life. In the spring of this year I even had the opportunity to speak on this passage at the RMBC High School girls' retreat and I was ecstatic to share the amazing teachings and promises found in this passage. In 2007 I got a sunflower tattoo on my right foot to represent this verse and my daily effort to identify the way and to walk in it. I chose a sunflower because of its history and its characteristics.

In the late 1800s the sunflower was seen as a weed. People worked diligently to destroy it; but were often unable. It wasn't until 1914 that the state of Kansas recognized it for its beauty, resilience, and its resources. When I discovered these facts I knew right away... I was that. I was a sunflower. Satan may have tried to destroy me, and though he may have wounded me, My God would never let him complete his goal. Also, the sunflower got its name for two reasons. The obvious one is that it looks like a sunwith its bright yellow pedals stretching out like beautiful warm sunbeams. The other, less known, is that the head of the sunflower moves; at night, its head hangs down waiting. But when the dawn breaks, it faithfully raises its head and follows the sun all day long through the sky. When the night comes again, it waits, because it knows. The sun will return.

And so this passage remains with me and continues to be alive in my life. Though I know it was written for all, I often think of it as mine. I am so much like the Israelites; I have ran from God, disobeyed him over and over again, and relied on all of the strengths of this world. Yet, HE has risen to show ME compassion, over and over again. Even when I did not  have the strength to go to Him, he rose and met me. I vision Him leaping from a chair to run to me as a mother does when her child takes a bad fall.

So what stirs up these memories, this passage? Apart from its daily relevance to my life.

Well... we are at Tabor now. The location I was when most of my difficult journey began. The place I first discovered this special passage. During my years at Tabor, its 'theme' verse or whatever it may be called, was Micah 6:8.

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

And now.... it is this:

 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

It brings me to tears that God cares enough about me to guide my path so closely, to take me and lead me exactly where He wants me, and to lovingly remind me that I am where I belong.

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