NOTE: The following is an excerpt from the book Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again: Living With Losses of the Heart © by Kari West. All rights reserved.
18. Creating minute vacations just for me
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They are innumerable!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!
— Psalm 139:17, 18
Are you longing for respite from your sorrow? You know you need one after all you have been through. Getting away from the day-in-and-day-out living with loss is as necessary as taking time off from a regular routine. Vacation time is never wasted time. It can regenerate the heart, quiet the mind, relax the body, and nourish the soul. Our Creator never intended us to live in a continual state of anguish and tension—or sorrow.
Jesus modeled time away. After learning of John the Baptist’s death, “. . . he went off by himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone” (Matthew 14:13). After bringing Lazarus back to life (John 11:54), feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:23), and healing a man with leprosy (Luke 5:13-16), our Savior sought out a time of solitude. The bookends of his ministry are about time away—beginning with the forty days he spent alone in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2) and ending with the hours spent in Gethsemane. Jesus knew the exhaustion of grief. Mark 14:34 describes his soul as “crushed with grief to the point of death.”
Grieving is hard work. As we labor giving birth to life after loss, we need time away. Time to contemplate what is behind and what is ahead. Time to pray for God’s will. Time away to replenish the blood we lose and the energy we expend coming to terms with the reality that death is final, loss remains, and life goes on.
Start where you are. Make time away your friend. All you need is a minute. Tonight, bathe your restless thoughts in warm remembrances of God’s help in the past. Tomorrow, savor His creation in front of you—a flower’s fragrance, shells on a beach, the rustle of tree leaves, dogs bolting after cats, a lake lapping the shore. If you don’t have access to a wilderness of your own, make one. Turn your car into a sanctuary during the commute to work by shutting off the radio. Stroll around the block on your lunch hour. Roll out a blanket beneath a shady park tree and plop down a while. Enjoy a longer shower.
You can also create a minute vacation by reliving a time that was good. Pull out memories of walking barefoot in summer or tossing snowballs in winter. Remember how it feels to soak up sunlight or tilt your face toward the rain. Once again image the sights, smells, and sounds of spring. Deep sorrow sharpens our awareness of and appreciation for life. When we take these “I am present in the moment” trips, we begin to see the world in a brighter light.
PRAYER PAUSE: Creator God. How I long for a day off from the strain of deep sorrow. Enable me to see from Your viewpoint that a day off and an off day each have value and are clocked the same. Show me the value of momentary time away. I want to dig my toes into the warmth of Your endless thoughts toward me. Your Word says they are more numerous than grains of sands along the seashore.
Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future.
Rather, it is a deepening of the present.
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