Jim and I recently returned from a seven-day Alaskan cruise.  It was a wonderful, peaceful and relaxing vacation.  I had expected it would be a fun get-away, but I had not expected it to be the spiritual retreat it became.  Today’s picture is the view we had from the cruise ship Tuesday morning.  Tracy Arm Fjord is truly one of the most beautiful, majestic creations of God and while I was floating past the glacier ice, the Creator definitely got my attention.  My Wonderful Counselor accompanied me on this trip and I was keenly aware of his divine presence.  I knew God wanted to speak, and I didn’t want to miss a word of his counsel.

Jim and I kept reminding each other, over and over again, that we were greatly blessed to be on that trip.  Vacations are important and it was good to get away.  The views from the ship revealed the magnificence of God and his quiet voice was a reminder of his personal love and compassion.  How can such a great God care for such a small soul?  How can the Creator of those glaciers and the Master of every moment have the time to direct my small path?  Yet, he does.  How did I know God was speaking?  How does a child come to recognize the voice of her Father?

Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

The most important factor was taking the time to listen.  We had two days “at sea” which meant I was on a ship, with nowhere else to go.  The massive buffet lines meant I didn’t need to worry about meals, the cruise ship activities were not nearly as enticing as the quiet of our room and the beauty of the scenery caused me to consider the One who made it.  We all know life is too busy.  Why don’t we fix that?  The best things in life are found in God.  We have to seek him if we want to have the best that life can offer.  Seeking God is not a quick prayer for a quick answer.  Seeking God is a life-long path and his answers are found in the journey, not the destination.  If we don’t spend a lot of time with God, we probably won’t have a lot of direction from God.  We all know that…yet, do we act like we believe it?

Second, I spent time with wise counsel.  I read two great books.  Sharon Brown’s novel, Sensible Shoes, was recommended to me three times.   One friend sent it to the office and I found it sitting on my desk one morning.  When I got ready to pack for the trip, I knew I was supposed to include that book in my suitcase.  I also packed another novel, Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron.  Both of these books were appointments with God.  God used these wise authors to teach me lessons I needed to know.  I will probably write more about these books later, but I would recommend them highly to each of you.  Sometimes God repeats himself just to make sure I never doubt what he is saying.  Those two books, by very different authors, taught me the same lessons.  When God repeats himself, we should be careful and prayerful to pay attention.

The final stage is where I find myself today.  Both of these books discuss the contemplative aspects of our faith journey.  I wish there was more attention given to these great, spiritual truths.  Our culture is not conducive to hearing from God.  I didn’t buy Internet on the boat, so I had no distractions.  I checked e-mails at a few ports and that was good enough.  The rest of the time, I tried to be quiet and enjoy the time away.   It takes time to think.  It takes time to contemplate God.  There is a lot of Scripture that points to this fact.  We are told in Hebrews 12:1 to “run with endurance.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, “everything has a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  The way to know and walk with God, is found in spending contemplative time with God.  

The fall season is not usually slow and quiet.  What must you do to find time for God so that you can spend time with God?  He knows we spend our time on those things that matter.  Picture yourself sitting down with God to tell him how much you love him.  Now picture him holding your calendar up so that you can see it.  Could he believe you?  

I came home from my vacation overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my Magnificent Counselor.  How can I keep that love strong and powerful?  That is what I am contemplating right now.

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