It was 365 days ago. One year ago, almost to the hour. I was alone, yet Accompanied. It was the best of my life.
Yes, the best day of my life.
I stood in the middle of expansive green valley with the cold wind blowing so hard at my back I had to lean into it to keep from falling forward. The sky was dark and the clouds looked like cotton balls that had just removed grey nail polish. Rain drops, carried with the wind, soaked my backside. The deep, teal-colored ocean as far as my eye could see.
It was the most gorgeous scene I had ever laid eyes on.
It was one year ago that I had the most life-changing moment with the Lord on a tiny little isle off the west coast of Scotland.
The Isle of Iona.
I set out on a two-week journey to Sweden and Scotland, my camera as my only companion, to simply “be still and know.” I wasn’t sure what I meant when I left, nor was I sure where I’d end up to be quite honest. All I knew was that my desire to just BE was insatiable. I could hear Him telling me just to BE STILL. To stop. To quit moving through life so quickly.
I remember my first site of Iona as I arrived early in the morning on what we know as St. Patrick’s day. The chilly wind blew directly in my face as I held onto the white, paint-chipped rails of the ferry boat. I could never image what this little island and remote abby would hold for me.
After getting settled in my B&B, I set out exploring the isle of 150 people, its vast farmland and sheep, and its pride and joy: the Iona Abby. I’ll never forget walking into the empty, stone sanctuary of the 1200AD abby. Feeling frustrated with my journey to “be still” I knelt in prayer and asked for forgiveness. Nearly a week had gone by and the only being still and reflection I had done was, well, was none. I was too distracted with all that is solo-travel and driving on the other side of the road. I set out on this journey to reflect and hear what the Lord had to say to me. I felt like an imposter. And so I knelt and asked the Lord for forgiveness and some focus to really open my ears and heart during the following two days in Iona.
Whispering a tearful “amen,” I got up and exited through a different door. What I saw next nearly swept me off my feet. I’m not sure I would’ve believed myself a year later if I hadn’t had my camera with me.
Awestruck and totally flabbergasted, I just stood there and stared at the bench in the distance. A minute or two passed by and I approached the bench a little closer, sitting down on it. Feeling the wood with my hands, I smiled a big smile and lifed my face to the heavens, “You are so good, God.”
Affirmation. That’s what He’s in the business of. I knew when I saw that bench, I was exactly where I needed to be.
The next day, I spent my time cooped up in my bed and breakfast. The weather was too rainy and cold to do much.
The whole day my body begged me to get out and use it. Eventually, my body won the battle against my mind and I set out on a jog in the rain and wind. I ran to the north shore of Iona where I came across the most gorgeous scene I have ever seen. I didn’t have my camera on me, but it was something that looked a little like this, minus the tables and land in the distance:
365 days ago, almost to the hour. It was there on that teeny, tiny little spot on the map that I heard God speak to me louder than He ever had before. Ever. It was absolutely undeniable.
With the rain and wind pounding me, my heart racing and eyes drooling at the scene in front of me, I instinctively extended my arms to the heavens and worshipped, How Great is Our God. Just the day before I felt like such an imposter. Setting out to seek God, to be still and know that he is God? What does that even mean? But in that moment, it was easy to be still. There He met me. I couldn’t help but stand in awe. In awe of God. In awe of His beauty. His earth. His love for me that is as deep and as wide as that ocean that stood before me. My spirit, something with which I had never truly engaged or acknowledged, was alive and taking over. I could hear Him and I was soaring in a way I have never felt before. It was my spirit, not my flesh. In the midst of the storm around me, it was so easy to feel calm and to rest in his joy, peace, and love. I finally understood it.
So here we are a year later… and I challenge you: Be Still. Go find your core… your center… your cushion of calm. I’m confident you will be reenergized. And I know you’ll find joy, peace, and love.
Because the remedy to exhaustion is not rest, but wholeheartedness that only comes by being still.
With joy, peace, and love,
March 18th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
GREAT POST RENE!! its not often that I get a chance to fully read your blog posts, but this one certainly got my attention. Your encounter last year was far from any coincidence for sure…that was pure faith.
March 18th, 2011 at 4:40 pm
This is by far my favorite blog of yours René! I got chills when I read it! And you made me want to go to Scotland! lol KEEP IN TOUCH!!
March 18th, 2011 at 4:46 pm
Every time I hear/read you tell this story, I do nothing but break down into goosebumps and cry. It really is such a moving story, and it isn’t very often that you find people that go to that length with their faith. But when there are people like you, you give me a new hope for peace and love in the world. If everybody would/could do what you did and just “be still” I think the world would/could be a better place. xo
March 18th, 2011 at 9:46 pm
I loved this, Rene!
March 21st, 2011 at 11:59 am
March 28th, 2011 at 5:04 pm
I love your heart, pretty lady.
March 30th, 2011 at 12:44 pm
This is amazing we truly do have a wonderful God.