I Am In the Way

Good morning. It is Friday, June 26, 2015. Only four more days left in June.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is waddy. It’s a noun with a simple definition. “Cowboy.” That’s it. Where did that come from? No one seems to know for sure. “It’s easier to rope a wild mustang than to round up the origin of waddy. Some folks claim it comes from wadding (the material used in stuffing or padding) because waddies were once extra hands hired to fill in when extra cowhands were needed. But other evidence suggests that waddy originally referred to a cattle rustler, a usage that wouldn’t support the wadding theory. There is also an Australian waddy meaning “stick” or “club,” but definitive evidence of a connection between the Australian and American words remains elusive. All researchers can say with certainty is that waddy has been used to refer to a cowboy since at least the late 19th century.”

Today is Chocolate Pudding Day. Any time the word “chocolate” is involved, I’ll pick that one. Especially over Take Your Dog To Work Day. I can’t even imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs (some of them, at least). But if everyone took their dog to work today? Egad!! I would much rather eat chocolate pudding.

I don’t have much to report, this morning. I got everything together for the prayer and worship gathering for Saturday evening, and I printed out all the concert music that I will need for the rehearsal and for next Friday evening’s concert at Southlake Town Square. I didn’t practice, though.

I’m still looking at trombones. This is difficult, especially looking on the Interwebs, as you can’t physically handle them. There are a couple of Holton trombones on Ebay that look good, but I’m just hesitant about going that direction.

This time next Friday, I will probably (hopefully) still be asleep. Since July 4 falls on Saturday, this year, we will get Friday off. It will be a busy holiday weekend, though, as I will be playing with the Southlake Community Band on Friday, and our church will be having a picnic on Saturday. Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

. . . and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle.
They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.
In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light.
He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?”
Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel,
because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.
Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven,
and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven.
Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.
But before they had satisfied their craving, while the food was still in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them, and he killed the strongest of them and laid low the young men of Israel.
In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.
So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror.
When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly.
They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.

Psalm 78:7-37

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Timothy Keller writes about Flannery O’Connor, a writer whose name I have heard, but never read. After reading this book, I have a strong desire to at least read her book on prayer. As she struggled with success as a writer, she verbalized those struggles into prayer, keeping a journal. As she vented her feelings, she described

effort at artistry in this rather than thinking of You and feeling inspired with the love I wish I had. Dear god, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . . what I am afraid of, dear god, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know You God because I am in the way.

What a profound statement, and could it be true of all of us? “I do not know You God because I am in the way.” Augustine of Hippo recognized something similar, “that living well depended on the reordering of our loves.” When we love success more than God and our neighbors, it hardens our hearts. It dulls our feelings and our senses. This, in turn, “makes us poorer artists.” O’Connor, being a gifted writer, had to constantly reorient her soul in prayer. She even struggled with the things she wrote in her journal, being afraid that, instead of praying, she was just venting.

One thing that she did learn is “that prayer is not simply the solitary exploration of your own subjectivity. You are with Another, and he is unique.” Consider that God is “the only person from whom you can hide nothing.” And if we come before him with that in mind, we will begin to see ourselves in a totally unique way. “Prayer, therefore, leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.”

A consistent thread throughout O’Connor’s journal is a sincere desire to learn how to pray. At the conclusion of one entry, there was a simple cry, “Can’t anyone teach me how to pray?” She was not alone. Many people ask this same question every day.

“There is a sense of the necessity of prayer–we have to pray. But how?”
(From pages 10-13)

Father, these words of Flannery O’Connor resonate within me. I still struggle with knowing how to pray. Even though we have the simple words of Jesus in front of us (and these do help, they really do), there is still a strong sense of not really knowing how to approach you, or how to talk to you. I find myself, so many times, trying to use fancier sentences, when I know that my words cannot impress you. Then, there are other times when I find myself explaining the situation that I am praying about. What nonsense? I do not need to explain to you what is wrong with Joe or his marriage. You know all of these things. All I need to do is pray to you, calling out the desires of my heart to you. Heal this person. Restore this person’s marriage. Draw this person closer to you. What more do I need? Prayer is sometimes muddled by the usage of too many words.

And this idea of me being in the way . . . what a profound statement!! Father, drill that into my heart. I cannot see you or know you if I am in the way. Help me to not love success or anything else more than you. Help me not love the journey more than the destination. You are the destination. You are all there is.

I pray for this day. May our trip to work be smooth and safe. May our Friday work day be a good day, and may all of our tasks be completed with efficiency. I thank you for prayers that have been answered. May you show your great love to Stephanie, today. Show her how much you care for her. Draw Rachel and Justin closer to you, and strengthen my mother for whatever lies ahead for her. We all are hanging on your grace, Lord.

Your grace is sufficient.

“I do not know You God because I am in the way.”

Grace and peace, friends.

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