“He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills”

NOTE: This piece was actually penned in the Oasis. A taste of ambiance!

When I was a toddler, we lived in a nostalgic but somewhat rickety house. What I remember most vividly about that residence is that my bedroom door did not close. You could shove the door against the frame, but the latch mechanism was weak and the door was always somewhat ajar. I remember opening and closing it repeatedly, frustrated at its inability to close completely. But then, I reasoned the whole thing out. According to my three-year-old logic, I was a little girl and little girls must not get the privilege of a door that closed properly. As a child, I could not draw my own bath or touch my own library-owned tape player either; a door that wouldn’t latch was probably just part and parcel of being young. And so, I gave up trying. I now know that the faulty door was just a home-maintenance flaw and that the bedroom assigned to me was simply dolled out for reasons of size and proximity, but I was always overly analytical, even when I scarcely had the vocabulary to articulate my thoughts.

Then, when I was four, we moved to another house. This time, I was given a bedroom with a door that closed. What an honor! I was more proud of that “special!” door than I had been when I got my first “big girl” bed, or when I was finally allowed to touch my cassette player. I would close that door—gently, so I wouldn’t break that all-important doorknob-and-latch setup—and sit cross-legged just inside it, thoroughly impressed by my newly-afforded privacy.

Why am I making such a big deal of this? Well, solitude has always been paramount to my life. Whether for moments of worship or just for the alone-ness of it all, I have treasured personal space—have, in fact, needed it in order to remain calm yet energized. Even now, if someone leaves a door ajar and I happen to be occupying the room, I feel compelled to get up and close it no matter what else I happen to be doing. This is just part of who I am—a personality trait, and one that is probably here to stay because it is connected with a lot of other things that make me who I am.

Several months ago, Jedidiah finished the downstairs crawl space and I immediately began turning it into a prayer closet. The silence here envelops you like a gentle hug. Unless you connect a power strip to an extension cord and drag it into this lovely eight-foot-by-ten-foot room, there is no electricity save a light fixture. No Intercom summons, no external interruptions—just you and a Bible and a moment of worship. It was perfect, and I immediately designated it the Oasis. Other places of worship in this house have included the Sanctuary, the Chapel, and Bethel—I simply can’t resist naming rooms filled with God’s glory. And the Oasis was just that—a place of refuge when things went wrong. When I experienced a hot-water-heater leak that necessitated changing out all the carpet, I spent a delightful week-and-a-half in the Oasis. I smply moved all my valuables into this place of pure isolation and slept on an air mattress on the floor. Cozy, comfortable, and so very needed.

Then, the mechanism on the Oasis door got off-kilter and the door didn’t close properly.

Jedidiah put a temporary latch on the door, but it wasn’t the same. The door could be closed from the inside, but not the outside. Then, too, the latch was always slipping and it took considerable effort to get it to hold. That day, I bid farewell to my Oasis. No longer did I come here to inhale the fragrance of the old books and other mementos I had stored along the walls. The extra quilts and pillows I had used sat in a heap, and I had to go elsewhere to seek silence. Several times, I asked if there wasn’t some way to fix the door so that it would close properly again and without the help of the temporary latch, but there was never really any time to do so.

About three days ago, I decided to pray. First, I gave this matter of the Oasis to the Lord and asked Him to help me not to be quite so petty about the whole thing. Then, because I knew that underlying concerns were instigating there not being enough time to fix that door, I prayed about those extenuating events. I was asking on behalf of hearts, not about the door itself. From that moment on, I resolved that the temporary latch would suffice and that I must reclaim my Oasis despite this fleeting challenge. Flexibility was a virtue, I reminded myself.

Today, there was such joy and peace in the Lord. I spent beautiful moments worshiping with Naomi during her infusion treatment, then came home and sang “Living for Jesus” and “The Joy of the Lord” until every fiber of my being rejoiced. It was then that I decided that it was time to return to the crawl space, this precious Oasis of mine. I don’t know why I chose today—it just seemed to be time. Perhaps, too, I knew that the Lord had filled me with enough peace to handle an inconvenience like a door that wouldn’t close properly. I made extensive plans for this foray into solitude—what I would bring, how I would spend my time, how I could keep warm without employing electricity… Just setting up would probably take a few hours.

Then, I went downstairs and prepared to take the door from ajar to all the way open.

I found it closed. Not ajar, not closed via the temporary hook-latch, but perfectly closed using the original latch. That mechanism glided as I gently tested it—open, shut. Open, shut.

When I asked who had fixed it—and, for that matter, who had fixed it quietly and without my knowledge–Jedidiah, Naomi, and Hannah all said that they were never in the Oasis.

Perhaps, in the course of time, I did something with the door that caused it to once again allign properly. There are many maybes in life, and I really don’t know how to explain what happened. I do know that I prayed, and I really surrendered this to the Lord. I know that He cares about even the very small things in our lives. I know that He sometimes uses small things to demonstrate His faithfulness. I know that I have really been tearing myself to proverbial shreds over the past few months about every eccentricity in my life, including my need for all physical doors to be closed; it is possible that the Lord was using this experience to remind me that He created and loves me just the way I am.

I will not make any more conjectures or assumptions. I do know that I don’t quite know what to make of all of this myself, but that it was a blessing to me and that, as such, I felt I must share it.

Addendum: “He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills” was made into a children’s song, but was originally penned by one Ira Stamphill as a chorus for anyone needing to be reminded of God’s care and provision. “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; / I know that He will care for me.” Indeed, He will. Sadly, the only two versions of this hymn-like melody I really love are by the Children’s Bible Hour Choir and by an obscure church whose name I do not know—and that rendering is a mere thirty-nine seconds long! So, you’ll have to hunt for this one on your own.

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