Winter is setting in where we live. Frost covers the grass in the morning. Leaves are letting go and are sent skittering across the dying grass. The north wind howls with each passing front. Migrating birds fill our skies with ribbons of motion.

I love to watch the geese fly south. Their "V" shaped formation, rhythmic motion, the alternation of the lead bird, and the harmony in the flock's changes in direction are breathtaking. So when a group passed overhead recently, I paused and watched as they winged their way toward their southern wetlands. Then something surprising caught my eye. Well after the formation I was watching had cleared my sight, a solitary goose was flying as fast as possible trying to catch up with the other birds. It was following the same line of flight. It was beating its wings at a much faster rate. However, I wasn't at all sure it was gaining on the other birds. This was the goose that was left behind. I don't know if it ever caught back up with the other geese.

While I'm not sure what separated this one goose from the others, I believe most of us know the feeling of being left behind. Even worse, most of us know the panic of wildly trying to catch back up with the "flock," no matter what the flock may be - a project at work, an assignment at school, a backlog of work, an exercise and weight loss program, preparations for a trip, plans for Christmas, or a host of other possible things. As our panic crescendos, we try harder and try to work more quickly. Even then, it seems, we only find ourselves more behind. Is there any word from God on all of this?

I believe three messages spoken from heaven* can be important to us in times when we feel like that solitary goose trying frantically to catch up with his flock.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10 NRSV)
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, we sometimes fall behind because we are trying to work too quickly and trying too hard so that we find ourselves wasting our efforts, heading in the wrong direction, and grinding ourselves into dust. All of us need periods of rest and renewal, especially in the middle of our frantic moments when things most seem out of control and we feel that we are so far behind.

"I will never fail you. I will never forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)
God is at work in our lives and he is not about to abandon us as we seek to live for him. Even through our mistakes and misfortunes, our Father is in the middle of our messes, working things out for our ultimate good. While we may feel alone, we are not. If we look carefully, we will see evidence of our Father's presence, providence, and grace.

"Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29 NLT)
Instead of trying to catch up in our own way, let's realize that the Lord longs to help us, hone us, and heal us so that we will be prepared for the journey ahead. So often we fall behind because we have lost focus on him or forgotten to follow his will. In those times when we fall behind, what we most need is him.

As we head into one of the most hectic times of the year, let's not forget the promises spoken directly to us from heaven's heart.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT)

All of us need periods of rest and renewal.

*Each of these is a direct statement or promise from God or Jesus to us.