I sat in the church parking lot waiting for my son to emerge from youth group and stared at the flag. It hung on the flag post, lifeless, drooping, still. As I looked at it, I realized I felt just like that flag. I felt like a flag with no wind behind me and nothing to breathe life into my exhausted little self. I leaned against the car door and tried not to fall asleep.
Sometimes circumstances can wear us down. Like a thunderstorm on the horizon, the circumstances that my family is facing had been predicted for awhile. They are the elements of the perfect storm, a triple threat crossing financial, personal, and familial realms. And me? I feel like a flag that has been through the storm, hung out to dry, and not anywhere near ready to face the next storm on the horizon. Like a furled flag stashed away in a closet until the fourth of July, I wished I could just be tucked away for a little bit and let the world turn awhile without me. I’ve felt spent and longed for a reprieve. Any kind of reprieve. But the demands of the day don’t let up, day after day, and it feels like it will be quite a while before I can curl up and get some much needed rest without demands rushing in quickly on the other side of it.
So, as I sat in that parking lot and looked at the flag, it occurred to me that all it would take is a little wind to make that flag fly. Just a little. The unseen uncontrolled wind could make all the difference in the way that flag flaps beautifully in the wind, or whether it would just keep sitting there lifeless. Wind refreshes, renews, rejuvenates, replenishes, and is the key component necessary in allowing an unfurled flag to be a banner for all to see and enjoy. What are the key components for me to move from being exhausted and spent, lifeless and worn down to being refreshed, renewed and ready to let my gifts to be rolled out and enjoyed by others? Yep, that was the question that I pondered as tears fell like rain in my car as I internally waved a little white flag of surrender. Something had to give.
But, then comes the Word of God, like a fresh wind. Psalm 19: 7-9 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” Yes, then comes the invincible incredible Word of God that absolutely breathes life back into me with Truth and Hope. Like a fresh wind restoring a tired flag to its destined glory, the Word of God, the Truth of Who He is “refreshes the soul”, “gives joy to the heart”, “gives light to the eyes”, breathes life back into me. When I breathe in that truth I can’t help but feel revived, refreshed, and renewed.
So, what refreshes me? What can help this unfurled flag to fly high again? The Word of God. Time well spent in devotion with Him. Conversation with good friends. Time with family,just being family. Candlelight. Good food. A walk at the river’s edge. A drive at sundown. Laughter. A good joke. Hearing about my kids’ days. A phone call or email from a friend. Prayer. Chocolate (I’m trying to be honest here!) Sitting on the deck with my kids. A clean house. A good book. Going for a drive and taking photos. Writing. Playing my guitar. The list goes on an on. There are countless precious gifts to be enjoyed that cause refreshment. And sometimes, all it takes to go from feeling defeated to being refreshed is a little bit of encouragement, like a gentle breeze blowing.
On that day in the parking lot I decided that I really need to seek that refreshment or I’d soon end up being like a wet blanket (or flag) to those around me. So I did. I sought out family and friends and spent some time just being refreshed. I rested. I read the Word of God, listened to good music, and sang. Although circumstances haven’t changed, the wind is changing for me a bit. I’m thankful to say that I know the incredible truth that God refreshes, restores, and renews. He gives good gifts, and each day is a gift. We will all have the times when life can leave us exhausted and feeling less than motivated to take another step. But in those times it is imperative to seek out what breathes life into us, rather than what takes it out of us. Like an unfurled flag, may we be stretched out by the fresh wind of faith that refreshes and restores. Faith pushes past a feeling of futility and clings to hope. It clings to, holds onto, determines to hope. “Futile” and “furled” can go hand in hand. I don’t want to give up, curl up, (furl up), and hide in a closet like a retired flag. I want to fly free. Sometimes it takes faith just to show up. Here’s to having the faith, hope, and tenacity to just show up. And here’s to being thankful for a God who breathes life and inspires….and always shows up.
Oh, and a little side note: I drove by the parking lot a few days later and just smiled. No, not just smiled, I laughed and smiled really big. That flag was flying high and free, blown by a gentle steady wind. It was a stark contrast to the lifeless flag against a cloudy sky a few days before. The difference wasn’t one that I could even hope to control, but the Truth was one that I could so appreciate…Flags…well, flags are just flags. In order to fly, they need the wind. Period. In order for me to live my life with purpose, I need the Lord to inspire, to breathe in, to me. He knows the purpose He has for me. He can use even the toughest of circumstances to bring those purposes about. I just need to remember that I am the flag. I will never be the wind or be able to control a million things. But I know Who does. And even the winds obey Him. Even the winds. So thankful for that for sure.
“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.”