Backyard Rocking Bench


We were still growing accustomed to the sun of Texas and its forbidding partner, humidity. Only a few days prior, we had loaded our car with immediate needs after parting for a time with most of our worldly things. We were moving. 

Our first destination in our new state was an extended stay hotel. We were safely delivered there by God’s mercy from Chicagoland—particularly through a stretch of highway where we heard a pop and noticed a neighboring car putter to a slow not long before seeing multiple sets of hazard lights intermittently redden the poorly-lit right shoulder in those early morning hours. Four or five cars had been in that lane seemingly opposed to intact tires; but, mercifully, we had no need for our spare.

Upon arrival in Texas, we stacked boxes from our car into the corners of the frigid hotel room to protect our heat-susceptible accompanying items. Plastics, books’ binding, wood that might warp—none seemed safe in the car from the twenty-one-day bake until all would eventually be moved into far less transient conditions.

But beyond air-conditioning, I noticed that Texans make exceptional use of their own partners for the heat, and I became well-acquainted with three at our hotel: shade, breeze, and water. Once settled, we would open hotel doors multiple times per day to pergola, porch swings, and pool. I made that swing, beneath the pergola, looking at the pool—when not swimming in it—our daytime abode. I would rock; my legs stiff and sore the next day, I would yet raise and lower my heel over again, moving us back and forth. 

My three-year-old, unusually sitting still, would fall into a rhythm of reflection with me, induced by the methodical swinging. For those twenty-one days, sometimes she and I would sing, sometimes we would talk, but often, we would quiet. She would introduce here or there—“Mom, do you remember when…?” Yes, I did. And I was remembering more. 

In the times when she would break our rhythm to step forward and play, greeting Texas in full heat and leaving me to my swing, I would think more about my travels—not the Illinois-to-Texas ones, but the kind God is already considering of my life. The God who knows all in an instant, with a simple act of knowing—is pictured in Scripture, with an anthropomorphism, as contemplating all of man’s going paths, as though I am to have an image of Him reflecting carefully upon the intricacies of my life, decisions, route, manner, and ways. Proverbs 5:21 tells me: “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.” Before the Lord, my ways are weighed. 

So I pondered what in my life is vulnerable—like tires—to bursting or slowing me such that I should switch lanes; what is occupying my mind or minutes that I needed to carefully pack to preserve for later; what should be more accessible; and what needs extra attention before an insight, a way to be corrected, or an opportunity to help others melts in life’s heats. I thought too about my best partners under the sun—what are my shade, water, and breeze amidst pressures upon my family, work, inner life, etc.? 

When packing and readying ourselves for Texas, my relocation-related plans were about what I wanted to do—where to visit, attend church, live, study, vacation, buy my coffee and groceries, go for a picnic, and more. But that swing urged me backward before I might move ahead: to see some life patterns only visible in retrospect. Surely if Scripture goes so far as to teach me that God is considering all of my ways with scrutiny, how much more does my finite brain need to slow and do the same?  

Proverbs 4:26 instructs: “Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure,” and Psalm 119:5 puts the concept to meditative prayer: “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.” Scripture would have me ponder my steadfastness in the gospel; with this, my reflections focus even further. 

Where need I switch lanes in order to fulfill my ministry (2 Timothy 4:5) and not idle? What has God allotted to me for fruitfulness that might dissipate if I do not notice and heed (1 Peter 4:10)? What might I better prioritize—so that my life is not full of trifle (1 Corinthians 6:12)? How ought my heart be tender in submitting to the gospel, that I may keep from straying (Proverbs 3:5-6)? What pressures are actually flaming arrows to be extinguished with faith (Ephesians 6:16)? 

 From our brief twenty-one days in transit, graciously removed from an environment of routine, what I most remember, with its own unique pattern, is from that swing: weighing my life travels, spiritually speaking. So what I first purchased for our home’s backyard patio is a rocking bench, assembled and set before the Lord. For He considers my paths, and I dearly want to know what, by His Word, He is thinking about them. 

On that bench, with my rocking contemplations, Scriptural truths—first having come to me through readings, studies, sermons, blog posts, books, conversations, and more—sift through my heart and mind to find residence within me, registering as answers to my meditative questions. God graciously making my Scripturally-pondered way sure, these truths introduce steadfastness for then standing and stepping forward. Hello there, Texan sun.

We Are Never Helpless in Helping

Keeping the Faith: A Study in Jude