One year ago early in the spring I enjoyed a day retreat with Jesus. This is what I wrote in my journal…
It’s the middle of a busy work week and crowds are pressing in on me. People with needs. Projects to work on and pressures to deal with. Piles on my desk call for decisions and action. I could spend every waking minute caring for pastors and ministry leaders via conversations, groups and events, writing articles, and answering e-mails.
But often I read in the Gospels that Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pray. And just as he said to his disciples who were very busy with their ministry so he says to me, “Come away with me to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). So with Jesus I withdraw from the crowds and set aside a day to go to the Still Waters and pray in solitude.
What will I do with this open space? I remember the words of Dallas Willard during my two-week class with him in the monastery, “Do nothing. Don’t try to make anything happen.” That’s not the way I normally live!
What I Discovered in My Garden
I sat down in my garden, right in the middle of temptation. Sadly, it’s easy for me to miss the beauty of the flowers and the blue sky and the peaceful sounds of the waterfall here and instead to become preoccupied with weeds, trimming, and improvements not completed. It’s just like my life.
I noticed a bee drawn to an apple blossom on the apple tree I’m sitting underneath. He plunges into the flower and draws out its sweet nectar. I watched that bee and looked at those flowers for a long time. Then I stood up and smelled the apple blossoms.
I sensed the Lord Jesus speak to my heart, “Be an apple blossom for me.”
I work hard and love to be creative, but no matter how hard I try I could never make an apple blossom! God is the creator of beauty. God is the source of love. Yes, I need to remember that always the most important thing going on in my life is what God is doing. That’s why I need this time of being stripped of my identity that comes from me accomplishing things and helping people.
The Fragrance of Jesus
For over two hours I laid down in the grass and prayed about being an apple blossom for Jesus. Warmed by the bright sun and cooled by the gentle breeze, I kept the apple blossom in my mind and heart. My prayers flowed with the waterfall as I asked God to help me be like the apple blossom in all that I do and in all my interactions with people. As God brought people and situations to my mind I imagined myself as that sweet apple blossom and for each person I prayed to “spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
What I love about that apple blossom is that it is just being itself as God created it to be. That’s what I want to be like in life and ministry: not straining, not trying to make anything happen, but simply being myself in God’s presence and drawing people to the sweetness of Jesus.
Just now as I’m writing in my journal, I’ve realized that I forgot all about the pressures that were crowding me — I’m enjoying being with the Lord Jesus Christ in our Father’s beautiful world!