Wisdom of Women: Judy Peterson
Continuing our series on the wisdom of women, here are the words of someone I have found to be inspirational in my life. There are sermons I've heard that have been life-changing for me, words that have stayed with me for years, and Judy Peterson has delivered more than one that I carry with me.
When asked how she stays connected to God in busy ministry seasons, here is her answer:
Yesterday morning I got up early to get a workout in before my day began. I chose a path through the woods, and as I was walking, I had the opportunity to watch a mother quail tend to her eggs, and God reminded me how he hides me under his wings (Psalm 91:4). Along the way I stopped to smell several different flowers, and I thought about their short, beautiful, fragrant lives, and God reminded me how much he wants my short life to be beautiful and fragrant too (Psalm 103:15-16). I had the opportunity to rescue a baby fawn that was stuck in a ditch, and as I put its feet back on solid ground, I thanked the Lord that he rescued me from the pit, and he said, “You’re welcome” (Psalm 40:2).
As I continued walking I noticed two small clouds in the sky and thought about Elijah and the tremendous faith that was required to believe that a small cloud could bring a mighty storm. And I prayed that God would increase my faith so that I, too, could believe that all of the small things in my life can be used to bring refreshing to God’s people (1 Kings 18). At the end of my walk I realized that I had never gotten my heart rate up into the target zone, but I was quickly consoled by the truth that my heart was back on target for the day.
Real life is going on all around us and so often we have our heads down, our ears plugged in, our minds usually thinking about something we have no control over and our eyes fixed on a place about six feet in front of us. And all around us our real life is going on mostly without us. I think we walk through life this way because we’re waiting for our real life to begin, looking for our mission on the horizon, hoping that it’s just around the corner. But here’s the deal, this is your real life. Your real life isn’t just around the corner, and it won’t begin after you get the next thing done, and it isn’t just over the horizon…it is right here and right now.
Even this moment is a part of your real life and God doesn’t want you to miss out on your real life while you’re wishing for the life you thought you’d have or wishing for a life you’d like to have or just wishing your life away because you think next week might have something better for you. This is not a dress rehearsal and we can’t come back and do it again.
And so for the past 15 years I have practiced the spiritual discipline of not missing out on my real life. In the midst of a very busy ministry life I remind myself that there is enough time to smell flowers, notice clouds, rescue fawns and do a little bird watching. I do this because I believe it is not a waste of time to be fully present in my real life. In fact, in the midst of my real life God is just waiting to speak into my moments and margins if I will simply stop, unplug, breathe in and listen.
Pastor Judy Peterson is the Campus Pastor at North Park University. She spends her life loving God and loving people, drinking coffee, loving her husband and trying not to miss out on a moment of real life.