My hunk of a husband and I just returned from a New Year’s weekend spent relaxing in the Smokey Mountains, a first for us both. We found ourselves easily settling into the log cabin adorned with hand carved black bear figurines and wood from floor to ceiling that perfumed the room with the smooth smell of cedar. The cabin was just the perfect size for the two of us and we both swore we could move in tomorrow and be perfectly content. The little kitchen featured a small countertop bar with two wooden stools where we ate every meal, a wooden pantry door that squeaked sweetly when sliding open for a midnight snack, and luckily a dishwasher so we didn’t have to “rough it” too much. In the corner of the room sat a large jetted bathtub where we spent hours talking by candlelight and attempting to solve all of the world’s problems in between spurts of adding more hot water. Opposite the tub sat a large fire place that was on almost every minute of the day providing us with the warm flicker of light dancing on the cedar ceilings as we cozied up together on the couch. The king size bed covered in warm quilts was far too big because we both knew I would be sleeping right beside him as he was nearly falling off of the edge. There was no wi-fi in the cabin which was a much needed escape from social media, emails, and electronic demands. The television that hung on the wall was usually playing music as we cooked and ate meals and then was turned off as we spent quality time just being “us.” It’s a funny thing, being in love. After ten and a half years of marriage, I still love this man and really enjoy spending time with him. He still sweeps me off my feet when he sits in front of the fire place and plays the guitar with those dark brown eyes gazing up at me and he certainly still has the best dance moves of anybody around. He makes me giggle like we are brand new and he brings such joy to my heart when he rubs my baby belly growing from the love that we share. He is the breath of fresh air that I always need and the fact that we were surrounded by cold crisp mountain air refreshed my lungs in a way that I didn’t even know I needed. We spent our days in the mountains reading, napping, talking, cooking, singing, dancing, flirting, and falling in love all over again. It was one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken and it was certainly one of the hardest places to leave. As we packed the car on the morning of our departure I began to wonder….why is it so hard to leave?
The long drive home gave me plenty of time and space to ponder the looming question and confirm the solutions we found quietly in the jacuzzi tub of our little log cabin. As we ventured down the mountains, through the valleys, and across the rivers I found myself yearning for a daily dose of this slowed down pace of life. We enjoyed car ride conversations about the presence of God in nature and how we see his hand and design all around us when we slow down to take notice. We see Him in the majesty of the mountains and the bubbling of the creek. We feel Him in the cool crisp mountain air and the crunchy frost beneath our feet. We see Him and feel Him because we take the time to notice. I prayed and asked God why this slowed down pace of really living each moment and soaking up each breath couldn’t be ours on a regular basis. I began to realize that it was hard to leave our quaint and quiet little cabin because we both long for a slower pace of life where we get to see each other, see ourselves, and see the presence of the Creator in our everyday lives. Our daily lives are filled with work, chores, scheduling, rehearsing, errands, expectations, demands, etc, etc, etc. but I slowly begin to realize that they too can be filled with reading, talking, cooking, singing, dancing, flirting, falling in love, taking note of nature, and acknowledging the grace of God all around us.
In my heart I am requesting that God help us slow down to live more fully and I feel God urging my heart to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1) Um….hello, God? Didn’t you hear that my request was to slow down and you are asking me to run? Maybe we’ve had a communication break down but those seem like opposite ideas to my small mind. Then I feel a gentle nudging on my heart, that to run with perseverance means that endurance is required. To have endurance you must be prepared to run for a long distance. To prepare to run a long distance you must have energy which is achieved through authentic rest….in Him. Then it all begins to make sense. Our time in the mountains wasn’t intended as an alternative to our life but as an addition to our lives. God doesn’t desire for us to solely run but also to rest in Him and therefore build endurance for a race of perseverance where we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12: 2).
I begin to understand only slightly what lies ahead for me on this journey. I must rest in Him, fully accepting and embodying his love for me which can be found through my loving husband, my passion for music, my enjoyment of nature, and my breathing in and out the breath of life that He alone provides. As we pull into the uphill driveway of our house I exhale and know that we have returned home from our restful vacation in the mountains not with New Year’s resolutions but with a new race to run. I have faith that we can run this race focused on Jesus and along the way stop to truly rest in Him and love on one another.