We recently went up to Sheffield to visit my son and his fiancé and whilst there we went for a walk along the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail. The 3 mile trail follows along the side of the river and has the remains of 20 watermills and 21 mill dams, some dating back to the 16th century. There are also remains of workshops, a reminder that the valley was once at the heart of Sheffield’s metal industry, where skilled grinders produced fine, sharp cutting edges. It was perfect walking weather and so beautiful. Part of me wanted to stop and spend time with God in his creation but equally this was precious time together, how could I do both? I decided to take some photos along the way and set time aside another day to look at them.
There are many ways that God can speak to us, one of which is through his creation. In my case the photos I had taken along the river walk. Maybe God speaks to you in this way too but if you’ve never tried hearing from God like this before I thought it might be helpful for me to share what I did and the results to encourage you to give it a go.
First I settled myself somewhere comfortable and, before looking at the photos, prayed ‘God I want to hear from you. As I look at these photos draw my attention to what you want me to notice and guide my thoughts to what you want me to learn.’
Philippians 4:7 ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
Romans 15:13 ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
There’s something about sunlight streaming through the trees that is so beautiful and peaceful. When I was a child I used to think that the rays of light were God speaking to someone and I was never sure whether to move towards them so that he might speak to me too or run away in fear of what he might say! Despite everything going on in the world around me I know that I can find peace if I focus on the one who is in overall control of everything.
A path well-trodden
Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’
I loved these old stones that marked the path along the side of the river and found myself wondering how long they had been there and how many other feet had trod that same path. It is reassuring to know that there is nothing we face in life that Jesus cannot overcome. Instead of focusing on the challenges of the path we need to lift our eyes and focus on the way-maker.
Life rushing past
Will your anchor hold by Priscilla Jane Owens
‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain? We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love’
What was a gentle stream widened to become quite a fast paced river rushing along carrying everything along with it. Sometimes I feel that my life is rushing along and I am simply ‘going with the flow’ without paying attention to what is happening around me. I have to intentionally slow down, spend time with God and take a moment to appreciate the wonder of creation around me.
Psalm 25:4-5 ‘Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.’
Sometimes I feel as if my life is running in parallel to the one God would have me lead. I’m following along nicely by the side but not ‘jumping in’ and immersing myself in the life he has prepared for me. What is it that holds me back? Fear of where it might lead? Fear of losing control? I took some time to reflect and see if there was anything particular I need to let go of to re-align myself with God’s path and purpose for me.
Reflection of Jesus
2 Corinthians 3:18 ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image.’
Along the way were reminders of the areas past including several mill ponds. These would have been used to store water to release, via dams, into the stream to keep the mill wheel working. As we stopped by this particular mill pond I was captivated by the clear reflections of the surrounding trees. It was almost impossible to see which were real and which were a reflection. Oh that my life could be such a close reflection of Jesus!
I hope some of these thoughts have resonated with you too. I would urge you to go outside or for a walk, take some photos and then settle somewhere comfortable and let God speak to you through them.
May the time you spend with God be a blessing and an encouragement.
Debbie Bowker is a business owner, wife and mother who has a genuine and generous heart for others. As part of the Come Closer team, she brings her own unique gifting, focus and experiences. We love Debbie and know you will too.