The Red Chair Invitation

July 4, 2024 | Read Time: 2 mins

By: Rev. Mark Sorensen

Grace and peace, friends.

I recently returned from a silent sabbatical. Leaving from Calgary, Canada, where the temperatures were in the mid-50s, I loved what the flight attendant shared when we landed in Houston. “As we are about to exit the plane, if you will please open up the vents to keep the plane cool, that would be appreciated. If you are from the Houston area, you no doubt understand why that is important, and if you are not from the Houston area, you’re about to find out why.”

That said, I can confidently say that even in the midst of the heat, it’s good to be back in Texas!

In church this past weekend, I received the sweetest comment. A very sweet lady came up to me and said, “How was your silent retreat? I was so nervous for you! Were you even able to go that length of time and not speak a word?”

I am happy to report that I survived. Honestly, I’m still processing the sweetness of that time spent in silence, just listening to the Lord. There are many stories to share from this time away; however, today, I will share just one.

On the second day of my retreat, I decided to take a walk on one of the many prayer trails at the retreat center. As I walked the trail, I came across a single red chair sitting in the forest. Honestly, it kind of caught me off guard. “Why the random red chair in the forest?” I wondered.

The thought passed and I kept walking. A little farther down the path and – surprise – another red chair.

“Perhaps it’s not a coincidence,” I thought.

Then, coming to a clearing, there it was – another red chair. I have pictures of at least 10 different red chairs I found scattered over the miles of trails and prayer walks throughout the forest.

So, why the red chairs? I have no idea, and since it was a silent retreat, I didn’t see the need to ask. As I took the opportunity to sit, rest and enjoy the solitude in several of those red chairs, the thought occurred to me that perhaps their purpose is as simple as this: Those chairs are a bright red “stop sign” inviting those walking along the path of life to simply sit and be still on their journey.

We all need that reminder in our lives, don’t we?

So, here I am, back in the office, fresh from a sabbatical, and I am bringing the reminder of the red chair with me. I do believe there is a daily invitation for us all to stop, sit and simply be in the presence of the One who walks alongside us all. The question is, will we take the Lord up on that offer?

This is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: “If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong.” – Isaiah 30:15 (NCV)

– Mark