This happened recently when I saw this one.
At first it looked like a great photo from Venice. The architecture there is phenomenal. It is truly a city like none other. In the years I have lived in Italy I have been privileged to go many times with friends and visitors longing to see this picturesque city by the water for the first time. It never ceases to amaze me. Each time we go I find something different, some little area yet to be explored. A street, a store, even a new gelateria!
On this occasion, Sandy and I had ventured off for the day to explore Venice for the second time in a matter of weeks. There is nothing like a brisk autumn day with nothing pressing on your calendar 'to do' list so you take the train into Venice for a few hours.
To me, this picture speaks volumes. We've heard it said many times before that 'a picture speaks a thousand words'. In this photo, one would never know that just around the corner are crowds of people, hustling and bustling about the city. People young and old taking in the sights, others just wanting to get to their apartments so they can make the family lunch. Laundry is strung about on makeshift clotheslines-taking advantage of the fresh air and sunshine. Restaurant waiters are busy trying to lure in customers for a meal, tourists trying to get one last bargain, children crying because they are tired of walking. And yet, you would never know it looking at this still photo.
This photo became so personal. A part of me looks at it and weeps and the other part rests at peace knowing that midst the clamor and busyness one can find solitude and rest. Weeping perhaps because you are not a part of the noise, not a part of the laughter and excitement that is found around the corner.
This past year of my life has been that way. All around me there were exciting things happening. People moving to new cities, new countries, new bible studies starting up, people stepping out in faith to do a new work. You hear of new growth in churches, new people attending, events going on around you that you are no longer a part of. It has been a year of trying to rejoice for those rejoicing all the while weeping because it is not happening for you or the place you are in. Just like in this picture-it was like to the left and to the right there was noise, there was excitement and there you are in the middle of it all asking why. Not asking why for the others, but asking why not for yourselves.
A time of learning who God is in the stillness. Who He is when it is just you and Him. Is He enough?
This picture also spoke to me about the need to keep walking forward and not looking back. Our walk, our journey with the Lord continues on. Step by step we go forward. As Paul says, we press on towards the goal, not looking back. I love the depth of this photo. You can clearly see the the steps walked to get where I am going and yet there is still more in front of me. I love how there seems to be this darkness and gloomy grey on the stones and yet up ahead there is the light where the sun is shining. The further I would walk, the more light would appear.
Just like in this picture-we keep walking. We keep moving in the direction the Lord has mapped out for us. Noise and excitement are wonderful, but there are those times in our lives where God wants us to walk in solitude. He wants to work something in us that is so personal and unique that it is between us and Him. He teaches us His character. He reminds us that though He had crowds following Him most of His ministry life, He was often alone. During difficult moments and great temptation He was often alone. No one wanted to journey with Him in those times. No one could stay awake and pray with Him. But, it was in those times that He was so intimate with His Father. He cried out to Him and was heard. He journeyed on.
There came a time that day that when once again I was in the midst of the crowd. The hustle and bustle was all around me once again. The noise, the smells, the familiarity of the sites and the people were crowded around me.
How personal this picture is. What a promise from the Lord. Don't be afraid to be alone. Don't get anxious about what is going around you or frustrated about what is not going on where you are. God has a plan, He has a purpose and reason for those quiet times, for those alone times. Take advantage of them because they may not last. Take in those moments when it is just you and your Savior and you cannot hear or see the crowds to your left or right.
Forget what is behind and continue to press on!