Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
September 4, 2016
A little walk in the woods can help your soul
Now and then I need a little walk in the woods. That is good medicine for exhaustion. Constant running drains me even though I enjoy staying busy. Sooner or later I have to turn off the engine and allow my soul to catch up with my body.
Recently I pulled out of the fast lane and found my way to the woods. In a secluded place I took time to enjoy sitting on a log under a large Oak tree. The tree was alive and strong; it was not running, just standing there doing what Oak trees do. It needed no help from me to provide shade for any creatures that chose to enjoy it. The little birds flittering above my head seemed to calm my spirit. Squirrels jumping from limb to limb made me wonder if they ever take time to relax in their nests.
Gentle specks of sunshine filtering through the tree leaves made me feel alive. And a gentle breeze made me wonder why I do not spend more time quietly allowing my inner wheels to stop spinning.
The water of the small pond nearby was peaceful, disturbed only by the two ducks that came near the shore for lunch. They seemed not to notice me as they nervously gulped down seed from tall grass. They are eating too fast, I thought; they’ll have indigestion. But I had no right to judge them; my wife says I eat too fast also.
The ground under the tree was sprinkled with dead leaves and acorns. I picked up an acorn and let it teach me. “This big tree was once as small as me,” it said. I sat there for a long time thinking about the wonder of it all – that a tiny acorn can become a huge tree. And for that matter a small deed of mercy can become an enormous blessing.
You can worship under a sprawling Oak tree. I did. That tree became something of a sanctuary. While corporate worship is essential, solitary worship can be helpful also. Alone with God you can get in touch with yourself – and you can discover what the Psalmist David meant when he said, “He restores my soul.”
I thought about the Psalmist’s description of a righteous man: “He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” I am like that Oak tree; its life depends upon the nourishment of the earth and water. I must allow my soul to be nourished by God in order to bear the fruit he expects from my life.
The Prophet Isaiah likens God’s people to Oak trees. He describes them this way: “In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” I have been blessed by knowing a few men who seemed to me to be “Oaks of righteousness.” Would to God that someday I might be known as one.
Under that Oak tree I felt free to talk aloud to God; the squirrels and birds did not seem to mind. I thanked him for my blessings – my wife and family, my friends, the doors he has opened for me, and the years he has given me. I tried to be real. I think he welcomes that.
With the sun slowly setting, and darkness descending, I realized my reflection time had come to an end. I thanked the old tree for its kindness and made my way home. As I walked away I heard God whispering in my heart, “I am glad you enjoyed your walk in the woods, my son. I enjoy restoring your soul and giving you fresh energy for the rest of the journey. We should meet like this more often.”
I smiled, thankful for the reminder that my Father loves me, warts and all. The joy of those moments apart lingers still. + + +