There are few activities that I enjoy more than heading off all by myself to the woods and spending an afternoon hiking through the Congaree Swamp. I have been asked many times what draws me to such an activity. I usually strap something heavy on my back, I sweat, I swat mosquitoes that rival your average sparrow in size, I get thirsty and I get tired. I have to beware of snakes, scorpions and the occasional loud mouthed hiker who has yet to grasp the idea that wildlife tends to shy away from loud obnoxious voices, and if I’m are not careful I could reenact an old Burt Reynolds movie and never be seen again. So, you might ask, why the fascination?
Well, it’s simple. The peace that resides in the swamp is marvelous.
Now, when I first arrive at the ranger station, there is usually a bus load or two of grade school children doing what such children always do: disturbing the peace. The pushing and shoving, the yelling and the excited voices of the few truly interested kids questioning their teachers and the rangers fills the air; and for someone seeking quiet refuge, the fight or flight instinct begins to rise to the surface.
Once I start down the boardwalk, however, the forest begins to dampen the voices of the children and the clamor of the outside world begins to fade. Then as I go further in and leave the boardwalk behind to venture down one of the longer trails that ninety five percent of the visitors never experience, the world behind is swallowed by a palpable silence. As I proceed further, that silence morphs into a peace that just an hour or so before was thought unattainable.
Continuing on, the voices of the birds, the myriad sounds of the other wildlife, the whisper of the wind and that mysterious under-voice of nature that I have never fully identified begin to envelop me. Then the peace that surrounds me moves in.
It is at the moment when the world seems a distant place and the towering trees remind me that I am but a small part of a grand scheme, that the still small voice of God can be heard. For me the message of that voice is always the same. As I walk on God whispers in my ear that the quiet of the moment is to be cherished, but that the peace is to be claimed.
Life is not always quiet. The voices that vie for our attention can be very insistent, and if we are not careful a subtle panic can work its way into our souls. When that occurs, the promised peace of God becomes endangered by the incessant bawling of the world.
The temptation to listen to the world’s wailing is strong. Giving into the urgency of the moment appears much more sensible than quietly waiting for and trusting the God of our fathers to bring His promised peace.
Nevertheless trust requires patience, and patience requires trust.
Do you trust Christ? If you do, then claim His peace and be willing to wait in quiet confidence for that still small voice that carries it.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7