On Monday, I got home from work and decided to go for a hike in the woods at Terrywile Park in Danbury. Maia needed to get out some energy and I was feeling particularly grumpy so I decided I needed sometime alone in the woods. I have always experienced peace and rest while out in nature. So I lathered on the sunscreen, thoroughly sprayed myself with bug spray, loaded the dog into the car, and off we went.
As I pulled into a very full parking lot I thought to myself, “Well, there goes being alone”. However I had a fix for that, I would put on some headphones and achieve that state of being alone but suddenly there was a teenage boy leaning through my car window asking me all sorts of weird questions like what kind of music was I listening to and what radio stations I like, was I going for a walk, and could he pet my dog. As this encounter dragged on, I was beginning to feel a little unsettled with this situation. I was already grumpy, so it didn’t take much to make me nervous. This teenager was twice my size and stood uncomfortably close to me when I got out of the car and Maia was cowering behind me. So I grabbed all my stuff and kept my cell phone with me and hurried away from the situation and into the woods. But I didn’t feel safe enough to listen to music. I felt that I needed to be alert and aware just in case.
I was not followed and in those moments without music walking on the path I became much more aware of myself and God. I got to see the height of the water and thanked God for the lack of drought this year. I noticed the sweet smell of ripening wild raspberries. I noticed the soft touch of the breeze on my face. I heard a young mother teaching to her daughters about the water and the woods. I felt the rough scratch of the briars against my skin as I pushed through a narrow path. And in the quiet, I reflected on my emotions, my experiences in the past week, and I released it all to God as I moved through the woods. And I felt that peace I longed for and it all started in an experience I didn’t wish to have, an experience I didn’t expect to have. Without my headphones, I got to interact with the world around me and see the Spirit at work creating room in my heart for the peace I needed.
In those moments, I realized that I had let my life and emotions get in the way of how God was trying to speak to my needs. How God was making his blessings known. Sometimes, we forget that God is good, that God offers blessings, peace, and loving kindness to us at all parts of life. I would venture to say that we focus more on our hardships and demanding to know “where God is” then we do on the goodness of the Lord. We look for specific answers to prayers that we have sent up, instead of being open to God’s answers and how God fulfills our needs offering us rest and strength to face a new day.
God is good. Dietrich Bonheoffer, a theologian and Christian resistant to Hitler in Nazi Germany wrote, “Wonderfully secured by a mighty power, we await with confidence whatever may come. God is with us – in the evening, in the morning, and entirely certain as each new day”. “God is with us” seems to be obvious when we sit here in worship on a Sunday morning. But this realization is not always so easy to remember in the midst of life and challenges. It is not so obvious in times of struggles or just busyness. Yet whether we recognize God or not, he is there and working to make his blessings known.
In the ancient world, the faithful had less technology to distract the senses away from God and the way he answered prayers. In the story of Isaac and Rebekah, we see how Abraham’s servant went out in search of a wife for Isaac, a wife that was chosen by God from among that people of Sarah. This was a daunting task for a servant who knew nothing about Sarah’s people or how to tell if any of the women he came across was the right match for his master.
So he prayed and asked for guidance and low and behold God lead him to where he needed to be and revealed the young woman he had chosen. God was there with the servant. The servant though was conscious enough of God that he could see God’s leading and care in those moments. He took the initiative to seek God and to follow where God lead trusting in the kindness of the Lord. The Interpreter’s Bible says, “Divine guidance does not come to those who wait and speculate; not to those who avoid an obligation; nor to those who started, hesitated and stop. It comes to those who know they are on the road of duty”. When we know that God is good, that God is present, that God will answer prayer, then we can trust that God will reveal his answers to our needs in time if we only follow where he leads next and in the process of the journey God will reveal blessings we never knew we needed.
Abraham’s servant set out not knowing where he was to find the wife of Isaac. Yet he trusted in God enough to begin the journey and soon enough God revealed the answer to his prayer. God will do the same to us if we are open and in tune with movement of the Spirit all around us and in us for God is good. So trust that he will take care of you. Let the words of our Psalmist this morning ring true in your lives, “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom”. Our Psalmist calls all of God’s creation to live the life of praise for God’s blessings, love, compassion, and might. To do that, we are called to share with the world what God has done for us through deed and word. Let us go forth into the week and see the wonderful ways that God is working and let us share those experiences with others who might be searching just as much as we are.
 Dietrich Bonheoffer, 20th century theologian.
 Interpreters Bible Vol.1.
 Psalm 145: 9, 11-12, RSV.
(based on Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-49, 58-67 and Psalm 145: 8-14)