“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.” (Psl. 55:6)
It is easy to assume, as David did at this particular time in his life that rest of soul is unattainable in our present circumstances. But while yon mountain or valley may appear pristine from a distance, they are plagued with the same weeds and briars that irk us right where we are. Physically speaking, David didn’t have the “wings of a dove,” but in our much more mobile world, we can come pretty close to it. Whether it’s across town or across the ocean, we have a possibility for relocation of which our ancestors could only dream.
This is not to say that a change of direction, whether it’s geographical, professional, or even ideological, is always bad. On the contrary, it may be the making of us, humanly speaking. But when this becomes a way of life in itself, we’re trying to change what is inside by putting it in a different atmosphere. That’s like putting oil in water, hoping for a new solution. The trouble is with the properties of the oil itself, and putting it in any amount of water will never change that.
Why are some of us so restless in body? Perhaps it’s because our minds are so sedentary. The “freedom of the mind” that the incarcerated Madame Guyon talks about in her wonderful poem, knows no prison. It moves about with the agility and ease of a bird—a dove, if you please. But a mind that’s in a rut will simply go from one rut to another, thinking the same unfruitful thoughts in different places. The only place of rest on this earth is the bosom of God (Matt. 11:28), and the horizons of our minds, within the framework of Philippians 4:8, are limitless. That’s why a restless Christian is an oxymoron, a combination of contradictory words. I refuse to allow that to be my description.
A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.
My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
O, it is good to soar
These bolts and bars above!
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.
— Jeanne Guyon (1634-1717)