He guards you when you leave and when you return, He guards you now, He guards you always.
She stood on the platform alone, waiting for the train. She'd come before to catch the Majestic Express, but had never been brave enough to board. The train's final destination was not tangible, really. All she'd heard was that the final stop was unbelievably beautiful--unbelievable being the prime descriptor. She felt a lot more comfortable knowing what she could expect. Here, in this place, she could count on leaden skies, the gray landscape--bare trees, with their dark branches blanketed in snow. This quiet beauty was not unbearable. And she had a warm coat, a red scarf she wrapped around her neck, a woolen cap and gloves. She could bear the cold just fine. But was there more? She'd lived in the same climate for so long, she didn't know if she could risk to explore some place different, some place warmer...
She peered down the track and saw the chugging train as it neared the station. Its headlights penetrated the misty atmosphere, and her heart seemed to beat just slightly faster seeing that glow in the weak daylight. She could feel the ambivalence warring inside her mind. "If I leave, it will be difficult to get back. And what if I want to come back--what If I'm homesick? What if I hate where this train might take me? But then, what if it's the best decision of my life?" Even on the snowy day, she felt her brow break out in beads of anxious perspiration. She swiped the hat from her head and felt the brisk wind glance her skin, a prickle of cold coursing through her body. She shivered.
The train slowed and came to a stop right in front of her. The door swished open, and she could hear the murmur of joyful laughter inside. She caught sight of the conductor standing in the open door, raising his hand to her. "Won't you come aboard?" he asked. He was tall, youthful--with a headful of shiny brown curls. Gallant. He extended his hand to her. She hesitated, hovered there. Then the promise of what she might discover in a new place drew her, beckoned her, and she placed her foot on the first step and grabbed the conductor's hand. She could feel the warmth of his flesh through her gloved hand. "Let me show you where you can store your backpack. I know it must be heavy. You've been carrying it for many miles. But now, rest and enjoy the view as we travel to our next stop. You're going to love the Majestic Express. And I'm delighted you're onboard. You're in for some brilliant stops along the way..."
Over these last months, I've felt a little like this woman--hesitant to leave the location that's safe, that I'm familiar with. And I'm talking about a spiritual place now, as you're probably already aware. I listened on-line this week to a favorite teacher of mine, Graham Cooke. He posed this question: If I live inside the heartbeat of God, what does that look like? What does that sound like? I resonated with the gorgeous metaphor, yet I didn't know if I even acknowledged that I lived inside the heartbeat of God. I had to admit that I often was like the woman standing alone on the platform on a snowy day, wrapped in the warmth of my own self-effort, my fear and anxiety--afraid to go anywhere new. Doubt and unbelief more real to me than faith in a God who describes me as His beloved, who desires me to walk in His provision and His majesty. I began to try and answer that question.
For me, being inside the heartbeat of God looks something like this: Daily, stepping onto the warm train, taking His hand and trusting His guidance to take me to the next stop where I trust Him to help me be assured that I am a much loved child, where He supports me in exhibiting the fruit of His spirit to others, with no judgment or comparisons. Where I bask in HIs laughter and joy, His warmth and majesty--where I am more courageous than cowering--where I express hope rather than dread, where I drive away negativity with my confidence in Him. Where I rejoice. Where my intimacy and relationship with HIm is my greatest weapon against the enemy of my soul.
And what does the hearbeat of God sound like? In my mind, it is the rush of a train, the chivalrous conductor shouting to all who will listen, "All aboard!"