`49° 13' 31"N by 123° 00' 04"W <http://maps.google.com/maps?q=49%C2%B013'31.10%22N%20123%C2%B000'04.34%22W&t=h>`__
Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and during these few hours I have in between appointments, I find solace here in a little park behind MetroTown.
Metropolis at MetroTown is a huge, sprawling, three-story shopping mall, with two levels of underground parking and several attached restaurants and other shops above ground. Within a block on either side, there are also a couple other shopping malls like Station Square and Crystal Mall. Especially on a holiday like today, it's a crowded, noisy mecca of buying and selling, entertainment and excess, "consume and enjoy".
But just a few paces away from the retail core, at the foot of the now-empty MetroTowers office buildings, nestles this tiny little park, probably designed for office workers to enjoy their lunch breaks. A small rectangular plot of grass lies in the middle, with an intriguing mound at its centre -- is it some historical marker? An ancient First Nations burial ground preserved amidst the rest of this new construction? Or just a load of extra dirt? :) The maples surrounding the rectangular grass plot are majestic in their peak fall colour -- deep red on the side opposite me; light amber on the side where I'm sitting. Behind them, a slab of sleek steel and glass rises into the brilliant blue sky.
Whenever people at church ask me how I'm doing, I make every effort to avoid giving a flippant reply, "Fine". OK, maybe sometimes they don't really want to hear my whole life story starting from when I was a wee tadpole, but I really want to be honest, so recently I've been saying, with all honesty, "Angsty".
An acquaintance of mine, Brian, recently shared about the point in his life when things were getting really serious with his then girlfriend (later wife). He got commitment-shy and ran for the hills -- more specifically, he climbed a mountain in Africa. He tells of sitting on top of the mountain, watching the sun rise over the foothills. It was so beautiful -- and he had no one to share it with. He says it was like a "sword in the heart". He climbed down the mountain and immediately proposed to his wife (over the phone!).
My personal devotions recently have been in the book of Exodus, and I wonder what it must have been like to see God's pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, leading Israel through the wilderness every day for so many years. Even the manna God provided every morning was a daily miracle -- but the Israelites soon took it for granted, complaining about the lack of selection on the menu! As I reflect on my life on this Thanksgiving day, I know that it is not that God has not been showing me His will for my life, but that I have taken for granted His constant hand of guidance. I read aloud the words of Psalm 77:
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:"Will the Lord reject forever?Will he never show his favour again?Has his unfailing love vanished forever?Has his promise failed for all time?Has God forgotten to be merciful?Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"Selah
The Hebrew word Selah indicates, we think, a pause for contemplation, before a brief shout, and moving on:
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."I will remember the deeds of the LORD;yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.... You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
The pillar of fire has always been there, leading me, but I just treat it like a night-light. I need to keep on trusting in Him every step of the way -- He will open the right doors at the right time, and make the next step such a natural, clear choice that it is evident to all that God has done this.
It is almost time for my next appointment. I close my personal worship time with God by singing aloud in this secluded, sunshine-filled spot, this classic hymn:
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!O words with heav'nly comfort fraught!Whate'er I do, where'er I beStill 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.He leadeth me, He leadeth me,By His own hand He leadeth me;His faithful follower I would be,For by His hand He leadeth me.