Sometimes for me, Sabbath seems more work than a working day. Today, however, is different. I've taken the day off. Today is mine and God's.
I wake with anticipation and expectation of a beautiful day. The sun shines brightly outside and as I feel the warmth on my shoulders, a forgotten pleasure surges through my body.
My senses are aroused when I see two birds feeding on the fuschia just outside my kitchen window. Today is going to be stress-free, wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating.
In my mind, I sing a song that is close to my heart: "Increase my love for You, Lord." Today, I pray that this will happen. I long to know God better and enjoy a deeper relationship with Him. Music softly plays in the background as I prepare to enjoy nature. My thoughts are consumed with this day, which will change my life.
Lunch packed, we travel to our day in the Botanic Gardens. As I wander hand-in-hand with my husband, the week's stresses fall away. My thoughts are absorbed in the beauty around me. There are so many things to take in, the scents of different roses, the petals of the hibiscus, the different and varied colours of dahlias, the grandeur of the trees--all their glory evidence of the handiwork of God. I have often dreamed of a day in which I can just turn off, rest in God and enjoy my family--and today my dream has come true. My daughter--hand-in-hand with her boyfriend--is perfect in my eyes and completes my awe at what God has given me. Walking along different paths, my mind is easily diverted to birds hopping around, people enjoying the company of friends and family, and the beauty of God's creation in general. It seems I am completely satisfied, fully immersed in the splendour around me. Then I question myself--Why can't I feel God's presence? I should be able to get really close to Him among the things He has created. I know of others who are able to know God's will for them and have such a close relationship that they seem to glow spiritually. How I long for that type of connection.
I wind my way around and out of the gardens, disappointed that my walk has not been as heavenly as I imagined it should be. As I wander back to the car, some children catch my attention and I see a small child wandering off on her own, willfully disobeying her mother's warning. I watch with interest how the parent always keeps an eye on her little girl, making sure she is not hurt, and the child's temper when she is brought back to the boundaries the parent has allowed.
How am I different to that child? I often do my own wandering, not heeding God's words, not realising how dangerous it is to go out on my own. How patient my Saviour is with me. How often He has had to pick me up and carry me back to His boundaries because I rebel and want to do my own thing, not realising or understanding the potential harm ahead of me.
Suddenly, I understand that I will not always feel a deep rush of "God" on me and often do not need to feel that presence with me. I know God is watching over me always, even when I wander away from Him.
Today, I know for sure that God has been with me, watching me enjoy the beauty before me and the wonder around me. Today, I have had a delightful Sabbath, worthy of being on the top of my list of good Sabbaths. Today, I have learned a valuable lesson, and my day has been one of refreshment, rejuvenation and rejoicing. My Saviour is with me always and will continue to watch over me day by day because I am His child--His daughter--and part of His wonderful family.
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24.
Vyrona Parker is a writer and mother who lives in Nairne, South Australia.