The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
I left the camper with only my camera and started up the path to the lake. The sun was up but just barely and since it rained during the night a light mist lay over the lake. It was so quiet and still.
It is hard to find quiet in our noisy world. We must make a conscious effort to shut out the noise of the world and listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. He knows our name, knows us better than we do ourselves, and he is calling us. We will only hear his call when we are quiet and listen. He will go ahead of us for he knows the best way to go.
Quiet my soul and open my ears to hear you calling. Thank you for calling me by name. I want to always follow where you lead. Forgive me when I go my own way and pull me back to your fold.
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
There is something about seeing a beautiful sunset that just makes it easier to rest. We have seen the beauty of God’s world and sleep just seems to come much easier. Not every day has just the right amount of clouds in just the right places for that beautiful sunset. Even on days when the clouds cover the sun, if we put or trust in God we find a security that gives us peace and rest in even the most difficult circumstances.
Teach us to trust in you even when our circumstances seem to be filled with darkness. Show us your beauty and give our weary souls the rest that only your peace can give.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
It was late afternoon, the busy dock was closed, and the lake was calm, quiet, and still when I took this picture on our walk around the lake. There was such a sense of rest and peace. But there was no sense of rest or peace when the prophet Isaiah spoke these words to a rebellious people.
Rest is something that can be very hard to find. We want to do a good job and work hard to seek perfection. So many times I hear people call themselves perfectionists and there was a time when I would have called myself the same thing. But I have learned that perfectionism is a burden that I no longer want to carry. When we seek perfection we are seeking to save ourselves by the quality of our work instead of trusting God to save us. We need these words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah today. We need to return to God when our work becomes our way to salvation and then in quietness and trust we will find true salvation and rest.
"Father, help me to use the gospel on myself to weaken the perfectionism that makes my work a burden. Give me the deep rest of soul that comes to the degree I remember I am saved by faith in Jesus, not by the quality of my work. Amen."
Taken from Timothy Keller’s Book, God's Wisdom for Navigating Life
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
About This Image:
Waterfalls can be loud and exciting or quiet and calming. I love to walk by quiet streams like this one on Roaring Fork in the Great Smoky Mountains. This verse has been one of my favorite verses for a long time. I love the imagery of God singing over me, like a mother sings over her newborn. But when I went to read this verse again today another phrase spoke to me - "he will quiet you by his love:" I thought how else can we find quiet except when we are sure we are loved. When we need to be quieted, like when we are stressed, isn't it when we are focusing on something other than God's love for us - trying to make our own way instead of trusting him.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
About This Image:
I had seen this tree many times on trips to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains, but not until this day in the fog did I see its beauty. It is in a field where the horses graze at the beginning of the loop road and I usually rush by to get to more scenic views. This morning the loop road was closed to all but walkers and bicyclists. The fog covered all the business of the field that I usually see and because we were walking, there was no rushing. It was so quiet and still. It is not easy to be still and wait, especially in silence, in our busy world. To wait in silence requires trust in a God who is stronger than you, who loves you with a steadfast love. Silence, an inner stillness, peace, only come when we put our focus on God. It can't be achieved any other way.
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