Psalm 32: Lead with a Look

Praying the Psalms

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you. 
(Psalm 32:8-9)

Oh, that I would be wiser than a mule! Let me learn this for my children as well. That the authority of the eye is far more powerful than all my angry spurs or impatient tugging. I don’t want to leave a bitter taste in their mouths.

To lead with a look – this requires trust. This requires patience. This requires relationship. Shortcuts only shortchange us all.

This is leadership by invitation, by inspiration. This is watchful, forward looking leadership. This is not reacting, threatening, or cajoling. This is a calm, composed authority.

~

Oh Lord,

I have so much to learn.

Forgive me for going astray, for wandering out the range of your whispers. Forgive me for turning my head aside to distraction.

You call me to come near, to submit to your reign. And yet your yoke is easy and your burden is light, when I keep in step with you.

You call me to refocus in your field of vision.

You set my feet on your path once again.

You say, Stop fighting, stop fuming, stop figuring it out on your own.
     I know the way.
     I am the way.
     I will lead you, and your children.
     You will learn from me.

Tender shepherd, you promise to lead us. Not by pushing and shoving, not by threatening and bribing, not by brute force.

But by trust. By gentleness. By your voice.

By your eye.

A look is all it takes.

Lord, keep our eyes on you!

 

~ lg

S.D.G.

 

 

Before you go online this morning

autumn sky

Morning.

Resist the urge to scroll, to surf, to glue myself to a screen.

The online world is so sticky. It’s not called a web for nothing.

Instead,
Look out a window.
Look into the eyes of my child.
Look into the love letter of God.

Ground myself in tangible reality:

The way the rain is pouring down the spout and knocking over blades of new green grass.
The little soul whose body needs a tickly sort of hug to set the day off right.
The invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” to have breakfast with Jesus instead of a virtual buffet.

Before going online, I need to align.

Find my place in God’s story before reading a dozen others.
Orient myself to true north before wandering through all those links.
Put my priorities and plans in divine order before getting sidetracked on someone else’s agenda.

Breathe.   Pray.   Be still.

Know that He is God, and know who I am. Receive the mercies that are new this morning.

Adhere myself to Him so I won’t be caught in a day I wasn’t meant to live. Align myself with Him so I can move into the day He has for me.

***

Would you like a little help moving into the day God has for you? Subscribe to the blog and receive a free printable “Move Into Morning Prayer.” This is what helps me start my day off with prayer. Think of it as morning exercise for your spiritual life!

~ lg

S.D.G.

Faith for ordinary days {& Christmas in May!}

Abraham,

Did you ever get tired of the little things along the way? I mean, you had this grand and glorious promise, but some days must have seemed long. There were mouths to feed and tents to clean and morale to keep. What did you do when the days all ran together like so many dusty camels in a caravan? When the sun beat hot, did you snap at the servants? Did Isaac, named for your laughter, ever drive you to tears?

God’s promise was big, but what about the little things? The little sorrows and frustrations and the mundane weariness of life in camp? The swarming flies and stinking feet? Did God whisper into those moments too?

You had a smoking firepot and a sky alive with light and a what-the-blazes angel. But what happened in between? Did the glory of the celestial city filter into the foreign country? By faith you made a home in the promised land, but even then you felt like a stranger.

How did you do it, day after day? How did you keep faith on ordinary days? How did you keep faith when all the little irritations of life conspired to steal your joy? How did you keep faith when nothing around you seemed to reflect the promise?

Abraham, show me the way . . .

 

{To listen in on other conversations with the patriarch, go here.}

***

Abraham’s Advent is an Advent devotional that grew out of my scriptural journey with Abraham. It is available for download as an ebook in the Shop. It is, of course, designed for use during the Advent season, but you can pick it up any time you need an injection of faith!

Sale over. Until May 30th, you can get Abraham’s Advent as part of the Build Your Bundle sale! (It’s never too early to get a headstart on Christmas preparations, after all.) Build Your Bundle is the biggest digital homeschool curriculum sale of the year. I’m honoured to be included among this year’s contributors!

 

The BIGGEST Homeschool Sale of the Year - ends 5/30/17

 

 

~ lg

S.D.G.

When You Can’t Find the Time for God

Time for God

I can’t find the time.

I whisper it into a sink of dishes, scrubbing away the remains of a messy day. Night descends outside the window, laundry still bobbing, now damp on the line. Bills pile up, toddlers melt down, responsibilities press in, and the hours slip away. Finding time for God seems harder than ever.

I used to have a regular “quiet time,” often first thing in the morning, the breakfast staple of a good devotional life. That was “time for God.” But now with needy little ones, that early morning is not so peaceful. How can I keep this God connection strong when I don’t have much quiet or time?

Some days it feels like a cut and paste game. What else can I rip out? Where can I fit God in? At the end of it all I am the toddler with the safety scissors and a pile of scraps. I am not good at making time.

But what if I didn’t have to make time for God? For too long I have been trying to patch Him into my chronos time, these fast and fleeting minutes strung one after the other, like clothespins on the line. But patches are not enough. I need something more binding.

God has already made time for us by giving us His eternal and abiding presence through Christ. “Lo, I am with you always.” It is always the right time to be with God. When I can’t “fit Him in,” I need to turn the clock to karios time, the “fitting time,” which is less about counting minutes for God and more about living each moment with God.

As my chronos time drains down the sink with a few stray spaghetti strands, I am reminded of Brother Lawrence, who was no stranger to the kitchen. A seventeenth century monk, he spent most of his time on kitchen patrol as chief cook and bottle washer at the Paris monastery where he lived. For him, monastic life wasn’t all silence and solitude. Much of his day was spent sweating over a hot stove, and the time he did spend in prayer and meditation was not more holy than the rest. He made it a habit to keep in continual conversation with God, being mindful of Him at all times, and to do everything, whether small or great, out of love for God. He called this practicing the presence of God. “‘The time of business,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.’”(1)

We are all too familiar with noise and clatter, whether from the kitchen or elsewhere. But God’s presence can be the eternal binding, the underlay to our lives that gives us constant access to His peace, joy and purpose. Like Brother Lawrence, we can train ourselves to slip into His reality no matter our surroundings. “[W]e need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him every moment…” (2) For God is not far away. He invites us to weave the threads of our lives into His presence, so that instead of carving out time for God we sew continually into time with God.

Every piece of fabric has its knots, the anchors that hold it all together when things are pulled tight and turned inside out. So, too, the fabric of our lives needs to be anchored in God through regular immersion in Scripture and prayer. There we begin a holy conversation which carries us through the day. I still need time with His Word. I still need times where I silence the commotion and seek God in prayer. These are what anchor me, but I do not leave Him when I get up off my knees.

By these I am knotted firmly in who He is, and by training myself to pay attention to His presence lying beneath the surface of my busy days, I see those openings in the fabric of the ordinary which pull me into an encounter with Him. When I emerge I bring Him with me, right in the middle of the pots and pans. Like a needle threading in and out, the more I enter into these kairos moments, the stronger I am bound to Him.

And so I am learning to put down my scissors and pick up the needle instead. When I can’t find the time, I can still find Him.

 

(1) Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Uhrichsville: Barbour Publishing, 2004), 30.
(2) Ibid., 25.

This post was originally published as an article, “Time for God or Time with God?” in Good Tidings magazine. 

 

~ lg

S.D.G.

 

Psalm 5: The Multitude of Mercy

Praying the Psalms

“But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy:
And in thy fear I will worship toward thy holy temple.”
Psalm 5:7

When weariness and weakness overtake me, and I don’t know how I can enter your holy house the wretch that I am, you send a multitude of mercy to meet me.

I have strength only to crawl and sigh, but you have have heard my prayer, and I hear the call to look up. From your gates come streaming a gracious throng, banners waving in welcome. They come with song, and they come with cheers. They come with hands both soft and strong, pulling me up, lifting me on their shoulders. They come with refreshment, both bread and wine, a foretaste of the feast inside. They come with hot towels and healing balm.

They are whispering peace even as they shout for joy. I am caught up in the colourful crowd, floating on a current of the great living river that somehow flows both in and out of the temple. And it is in this multitude that I am carried where my feet feared to go, where my strength could not take me.

Fear of the Lord drives me to my knees, but then, oh then, mercy comes running.

 

~lg

S.D.G.