Have you put yourself in a time-out lately? If your kids are grown you probably haven’t used that term in awhile. Even if you have young children you’re probably thinking I’m asking that question wrong. Kids are put in time-out, not grown-ups. Possibly you have neither kids nor nieces nor nephews and have no idea what I’m talking about.
A time-out is the imposed temporary suspension of activities for a short amount of time with the intent of calming, reorienting, or disciplining a child.
Why am I asking if you (as an adult) have had a time-out lately? Consider your current need for quiet and refreshment for your soul. Do you need calming and reorienting? Are you feeling a bit frazzled and frayed as of late? Call it self-care or a time-out; everyone’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well being demands a bit of rest and refreshment on occasion.
With Spring upon us and the bright blooms of daffodils and tulips beginning to push through the wet ground, I suggest grabbing your Bible and journal and heading to a local park, tulip farm, or arboretum. Then silence your cell phone and wander the gardens for a few hours, visually drinking in the beauty of God’s creation. Read the Psalms and write down your reflections. Let me provide you with a few examples of my journaling time at a local arboretum:
Gazing upon Japanese Maple and Big Tooth Maple trees, as well as water lilies planted next to a small stream, I am reminded of Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither.” These trees and plants next to the stream are flourishing and I venture to guess they require less watering than trees and plants located in other areas of the garden.
So it is with my life. The more time I spend meditating on God’s Word, the more “fruit” I produce and better am I able to survive the “droughts” of life. While I can go awhile without spending time in God’s Word, I am quickly drained and starving for His food. Just like a plant in the summer heat, I need frequent watering (of God’s Word) to survive and grow.
Verse 6 states, “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.” As the flowers need the light of the sun, so, too, we need the light of the Son’s face for blessing, growth, and sustenance. The light of God’s glory penetrates the darkness and as a result, things are made radiant.
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Ps. 8:3-5) The Lord is the original creator of the beauty found in this garden. The fact that man finds enjoyment in working the garden, cultivating it, creating contrasts of colors and textures among the flowers, trees, and grasses, proves that man is created in the image of God.
For the Lord, “made him ruler over the works of [His] hands; [He] put everything under his feet.” (Ps. 8:6) I am amazed at the quantity of gardeners working today and I realize there must a large staff that work each day of the year to keep the gardens in pristine condition. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:9) God created man to take care of the earth and everything in it, praise be to God for this obvious reminder found at the arboretum today.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Ps. 19:1-4)
I have observed many ages and ethnic backgrounds of people enjoying the gardens—from little children too young to speak to elderly couples with white hair and walking canes and varying in ethnicity, including Latin American, Asian, Indian, European, and U.S. American. Many ages and languages, yet all enjoying the gardens. Psalm 19:3 states, “there is no speech or language where the voice of the skies/heavens is not heard (understood). So it is with not only the skies, but also trees and flowers. The wonder and enjoyment of God’s creation is “heard” by all at the arboretum, despite the many languages.
Psalms 119; 139
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Ps. 139:32) Like a child runs free on the paths at the arboretum, their hair blowing in the wind, so, too, I am set free as I run in the paths of God’s commands.
With total abandon, jubilant laughter, faces beaming from ear to ear the children run and play in the gardens. This is a picture of the life God wants us to have, if we only will follow him. “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” (Ps. 139:35)
Only when we follow his direction does He give us true delight. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Ps. 119:18) As my eyes have been opened to the beauty of the flowers and trees, may God open my eyes to the beauty and wonder of his statutes.
Go ahead and impose a temporary suspension of activities for yourself with the intent of calming and reorienting your life. Put yourself in a time-out.
I admit there have been occasions when my young son is acting up and pushing all my buttons that I put both him and myself in a time-out. He sits in Mommy’s chair at the kitchen table and drinks his juice. I stand at the kitchen counter and drink (i.e. slam) my coffee. After three minutes of quiet and refreshment, both he and I feel better.
And after spending three hours at the local arboretum observing God’s creation and reading his Word—quiet and refreshment for my soul—I feel more than just better. I find delight in the Creator. These nature moments with God nourish the soul and bring my focus back to him.
(Bonus: I’m also allowed time to sip—not slam—my coffee.)