Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, March 20

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
—Psalm 42:1–2a

We walk along a soft red clay path lined with manzanita and live oaks, cross a dry stream bed, and make our way deeper into the rock-rimmed canyon. We come to an area that I can only describe as a temple: Arizona cypress and ponderosa pine tower over us and the area is wide enough to stop, rest, and marvel. We do.

Lost in the kind of “wonder, love, and praise” the hymnist wrote about, we continue on through the forest and suddenly notice something unusual in these Arizona hiking trails: a new sign, planted low in the ground on our right-hand side. “Revegetation area,” it says. “Please do not enter.” Behind the sign there is a large area of dark earth, covered with pine needles. Twenty-five feet further on, there is another sign, “Healing in progress. Please stay on the trail.”

Healing in progress…what a wonderful way to express what is going on in that wooded wonderland. We learn later that there is a microbiotic crust of earth beside the trail that is being crushed by hikers. Unless the area is protected, it will not be able to fulfill its purpose as a natural seedbed for plants and trees. Later, we see the same sign in other hiking areas.

Healing in progress. I wonder: what would happen if I hung a sign like that around my neck on days I am so drained, dried out, and spent? Would people notice it, honor it, as hikers do in Arizona? As this psalmist surely knew, we all long for restoration, renewal, healing. We cannot go and do, produce and achieve all the time. We need to stop, rest, and allow God to revive us from the inside out.

“Healing in progress.” I’m thinking about making a sign like that for my door. It just might work.

Thank you God for signs along our way; give us courage to claim healing times for ourselves. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.