Places of rest


Summer months as a child found us living in our beach house on the Gulf shores of Cedar Island, Florida. During the week, we were allowed to explore the beaches or hang out at the surf hut with the pinball machines and jukebox. Our weekends were spent fishing, crabbing, and gathering scallops for our evening meals. Life was summertime full.
The winter months found us trading our bathing suits and flip-flops for jeans and tennis shoes as we returned inland. Mom and Dad continued to find ways to keep the family fun alive with new adventures woven around our school years. Campsites crowded us into a family tent at night, and morning awakened us to the sound of nature in a crisp fall setting. I can still smell the scent of campfires, brewed coffee, and fresh catfish frying over an open flame. And I can still feel the excitement of exploration with each family excursion.
As we grew in size (not number), the tent became overly crowded with elbows and knees. Our parents purchased an old school bus, turning it into a motor home that carried kids and animals alike. The bus, always ready for travel, housed a galley kitchen, dining table, sleeper sofa, bunk beds, and closet space. Many of those trips brought us to Wakulla County, where we camped on the banks of the Sopchoppy River.
Moving to Wakulla County has allowed me to visit the banks of that great river and wade in its cooling waters. Watching the river’s current and hearing the familiar sounds of nature, my soul felt at rest. I was home. Not the home of my youth but the home of my journey. Author Pierce Brown writes, “Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” If life is full circle, my circle is complete; I have found light here.
Scripture teaches us that God’s goodness and mercy follows us throughout our lives (Psalm 23:6). Did you know that in Hebrew, the word “follows” is “jirdepuni”? It means to chase after or to pursue.  It is not merely walking after us but actively pursuing and chasing after us to give us the good things in this life. He creates days of great joy for His children, just like my childhood memories.
Our God does not wish for us to dwell in darkness but to find a home in the light of His love. He understands the indescribable weariness of this world, for His Son walked in it. He knows our eyes are never satisfied nor our ears content (Ecclesiastes 1:8). We are always seeking a gratification that can only be satisfied through Him. Jesus is the fulfillment we are searching for. Following Him will not lead us into darkness but into a light of life (John 8:12). His Word will remain a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105) if we choose to walk after Him.
Our Heavenly Father has a way of completing the circle of our temporary lives. We can remain in our memories, good or bad, never growing beyond yesterday, or we can trust His leading and discover the new adventures He has before us. And occasionally, we might find that He gives us glimpses of old familiar places, like riverbanks, reminding us that He has been present every step of the way.                                                                                                                                               Isaiah 32:18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, secure homes, and undisturbed places of rest.

Cheryl Mixon-Cruce is Pastor of Ochlockonee Bay United Methodist Church and Sopchoppy United Methodist Church.