In the heart of Manhattan stands an oasis of green rolling hills, plush gardens and a reservoir that covers 106 acres of the 840 acres of Central Park. A few blocks away you will find shoppers on Fifth Avenue, chaos in Times Square, and performers doing their thing on Broadway. Yet on any given day, many will find the park filled with people looking for a bit of sanctuary in the midst of a city that never sleeps.
I recently took a walk through Central Park. I found the beauty of it astounding despite having toured it a few years back. During my time there I noticed some New Yorkers walking past the park like it barely existed. They remained focused and never glanced over to see the beauty beside them. Later, I overheard a local tell his colleague how he made it a point to walk or jog through the park once a week “just to get away from it all.” Another woman shared with her friend tips on how she could get to the park during her lunch break every day so that she could feel refreshed, at peace in the midst of her busy day.
Did you know that as believers we too have an oasis that gives us rest? Filled with hope, peace, guidance, adventure and a little bit of heaven, God’s Word provides us with a reminder of our refuge in Him. “Every word of God is purified; He is like a shield for those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5). This sanctuary refreshes our souls and relieves a thirst that otherwise seems unquenchable due to every day problems. Words that melt away bitterness make way to tears of redemption. Forgiveness and grace sit like a reservoir amidst the pages of His provision. “As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you” (Jeremiah 15:16).
I find it interesting that despite having access to God’s Word, we treat it like many New Yorkers approach Central Park. Some of us walk by our Bibles every day and barely acknowledge that God’s Word exists. Others open their Bibles once a week (mostly on Sundays) to find solace — even if it’s just for a little while. Many, however, find a way to incorporate reading it into their everyday schedule because they know it has an impact on their lives.
I don’t live in New York City, but I live a crazy life. Taxicabs rarely drive by my house but I feel like a cab driver swirling around my city finding shortcuts to here, there and everywhere. If I shop, I end up at a grocery store stocking up on food. I’m not a performer, but I definitely do my culinary acts in the kitchen. Kids of all ages come through my house to spend time with my children and chaos soon follows.
For this reason, I find it essential to study God’s Word. Perhaps this explains why I chose to go to seminary when I did. Life got a bit crazier as my kids got older and with a husband who travels as part of his job, I knew I needed refuge, peace, and a hiding place.
I wrote the following soon after my walk in the park:
“In the heart of my crazy life stands an oasis of peace. As I read His Word, I find my Shepherd leading me to still waters. He will guide me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. And even though the problems, issues and darkness of life will continue, I will not fear anything because His rod and staff will continue to comfort and protect me” (Psalm 23).
So how do you approach the oasis God has given us? Take a walk in the park, so to speak. And take a moment and reflect. Pray that God will help you make time so that He can refresh your soul.
“You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:14-17.