Once upon a time, in a not-so-distant past, my family listed our house twice in two years. We moved three times over those two years – in with my mom, back to the ‘sale pending’ house, into our new home. During that second year, specifically that fall, we had a host of other happenings as well:
-From August on, our belongings were packed into a storage unit, and we were packed into my mom’s townhome.
-In September I self-published my first book, packing up and mailing out each order from my mom’s living room.
-In October, I turned 34, and we made 6 offers on 6 houses, each one turned down.
-In November, my youngest daughter turned 1, and we moved into our new home (the 7th offer) just before Thanksgiving.
-My little sister got married on New Year’s Eve, and as the matron of honor I had the pleasure of planning and hosting her bridal shower (in October) and bachelorette brunch (in November), and getting my family ready to be the ring bearer, flower girls, and a groomsman.
-In December, my oldest son turned 5 and we celebrated his birthday, Christmas, and my sister’s wedding.
It was a season we’ll never forget. Recently I was reflecting on that time of chaos, and I remembered one morning when I made oatmeal.
We’d been packing up to move out of our home the next week, so many of the items we use daily were stored away in boxes. I hadn’t been doing a ton of cooking because of the inconvenience, but this day while we were in our still-half-ours home, I pulled out my trusty old slow-cooker.
Now, friends, there’s nothing simpler than my slow-cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal recipe. It scents the house with comfort and gives my family a great meal. I can prepare it once, pour it into a 9×13 pan, and my family will have breakfast leftovers all week. But while it is the best, it’s still just oatmeal, which is why I was surprised when steel-cut oats, milk, brown sugar, and diced apples served up peace.
I chopped and measured, poured and stirred. I rocked out to the music playing from my phone sitting on a messy kitchen counter. I ran out of non-stick cooking spray, and found that the cupboard holding the apple corer was full of crumbs from the toaster. I ruffled heads that ran by and I stooped to hand over a refilled sippy cup. As I prepared the simplest of meals in my very-real-life, never-been-pinned kitchen, I felt peace replace stress in my heart, my shoulders, my brain.
Frayed nerves smoothed, I was calmer. I was able to roll with the little things that sometimes derail my day. I breathed more deeply. I was kinder to my kids and husband. I was motivated at work. I went to bed early, and I was satisfied with how the day had gone.
Was there some kind of magical extra ingredient in that oatmeal to get such results? The only explanation I can come up with is this:
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
That day in my half-packed, running out of groceries, crumb-covered kitchen, God gave me a stream. A cool, refreshing oasis in a parched land of daily tasks that had dried out my soul. He used twenty minutes of simple meal preparation to create a pool in the burning sand of my heart.
It’s interesting that in this passage, God doesn’t refer to geysers, oceans, lakes, rivers or even ponds. He says stream, pool, and bubbling springs — all serene, tranquil images of small bodies of water. The dictionary tells us a lot, as it defines a stream as:
1. a small, narrow river
2. a continuous flow of liquid, air, or gas.
“Small and narrow” tells us that God doesn’t need much to make much. He works with us, friends! While it would be amazing to have a weekly day at the spa (or sometimes even just a long hot shower), let’s be honest: it’s not happening.
But ours is a God who makes much of our small offerings.
A few minutes of quiet solo worship can become a chorus. Our chapel can become His cathedral.
And “a continuous flow” lets us know that even when we no longer feel the stream of peace, it doesn’t mean God has stepped away. The pool doesn’t dry up. The spring doesn’t stop bubbling. The stream doesn’t run dry.
God’s love leaves a lingering calm that can reign in our hearts when we feel anything but peaceful.
Where can you make space for Him to meet you today? While doing dishes, running errands, picking up toys, or having lunch in your cubicle? Wherever it is, whenever it is, He will show up.