Today is Monday, the fourth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.
May the peace of Christ be with you!
Lent is beginning to wind down, as this coming Sunday is Palm Sunday (April 10). April 8 is my mother’s birthday, and as part of the celebration, we plan to visit her and S’s home church in Mineral Wells, for their Easter music. Also, there will be cake. The cake is not a lie. (Bonus points if you get that reference.)
There’s not a lot going on today, so I will get on into the devotional for the day.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
“Sense of Three,” by Daryl Madden
Sight and sound and taste and more What are our senses really for? To open eyes and truly see The Spirit here surrounding me To hear His voice, adoringly The Word of love calling to me To feel with heart so gratefully For all the gifts God’s blessing me A greater view consuming me The sense within, the Trinity
Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:17-20 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit; music from the heart to the Lord 2. that we have water, clean water to drink 3. for flexibility in life, and the willingness to shift direction, when called upon 4. for the presence of God in my life, that I can see and hear and touch; may I not become so used to Him that I forget to notice 5. for places that are away from the hustle of life, places where we can truly rest
Today’s prayer word is “shift.” That’s interesting. Let’s see what they mean by this.
Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward . . .’
(Deuteronomy 2:2-3 ESV)
Ironically, I just read that chapter in the reading plan for today, from my Bible app. The idea here is a “shift” in life direction. I did that last year, myself. At the end of July, I retired and began drawing Social Security. I made the decision a few years early, so I’m not getting the full payment, but it was a good move for me, as I am now working as a part time library aide to supplement the SS.
In my spiritual life, I frequently “shift” directions. Not, of course, the ultimate direction which is always (at least I hope) “God-ward.” But there are times in my life when I must examine the things I have habitually believed and practiced, to make sure that I am still really following in the words and steps of Jesus, as I walk in His kingdom.
We should never be afraid to “shift” our direction. We should never be so comfortable in our beliefs and practices that we refuse to heed better instruction, more scholarly teaching, or even warnings. I don’t know everything. No one knows everything. But there are many who know things better than I, and it would be foolish for me to not at least consider what they have to say, and, then, perhaps, “shift.”
(From Pray a Word a Day)
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
(Mark 6:31 ESV)
How often do we need to do exactly this? It is, I firmly believe, one of the reasons that C and I love to get away to Glen Rose, often. It is a secluded place where we can rest. God’s creation has wondrous restorative powers. After all, if we remember, He called it “very good.”
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:31 ESV)
“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.”
(Job 14:7 ESV)
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
(Luke 5:16 ESV)
Even Jesus, God incarnate, needed to withdraw away from everything and everyone, in order to pray and refresh. By the way, the essential meaning of that word that is translated “desolate” is simply to be alone. It could be translated as “loneliness,” or “solitary.” I think “desolate” conveys a bit of a negative idea there. But I’m not well-versed in the terrain of ancient Israel, so maybe it really was “desolate.”
The point, though, is that we all need rest. And sometimes, it is very good to get out in the midst of God’s creation, alone, to do so.
Eugene Peterson, in a reading called “On the Overlook,” discusses the possibility of overlooking the presence of God in our lives. He brings it home by considering someone who might live at the base of an awesomely majestic mountain. After living there for so long, they might no longer look at the mountain, and almost forget it is there, even though it is the “most significant geographical feature in their lives.”
So it goes in a life with God. He is “obvious, essential, inescapable,” but, over time, we get used to Him, along with His “personal and passionate and gracious and merciful” character. We get caught up in the “urgent” business of life, as we struggle to make ends meet and avoid crises and disasters.
“That is why we work together as a community to have awareness of the great presence of God in our lives. We seek to wake ourselves up, to make sure that the roar of the vacuum cleaner doesn’t drown out the knock of the treasured Guest at the door, to deliberately step out of the fast lane so that we can see and hear and touch the God who is around and within us and can shut up long enough so that we hear and truly listen to the story of God coming to us, born in Jesus. Born in us.”
Have I mentioned how much I love the way that guy could put words together?
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I am in awe of how close You can be, at times. I mean, You’re always here, just as You are always everywhere. But there are times when I feel it more closely than others. I do confess that there are also times when I forget that You are near me, and I am sorry for that. Life is so much better when I am aware of Your constant presence. The thought that I can almost literally see, hear, and touch You is amazing. Certainly, I can do none of those things, in reality. But I can see, hear, and touch You when I am in the presence of other saints, because we all contain You in our lives. So when I am with my brothers and sisters, like on Sunday mornings, You are present in them, and we can see, hear, and touch one another. May we never grow used to this to the point that we forget just how awesome and amazing You are.
I pray for some time to get away soon, some time when we can go “hide away” in the midst of Your creation, in a lonely place, or a “desolate” place. I sense the need for some refreshing, soon. I thank You that there are places where we can do just that. In the meantime, please make sure that we rest enough.
Thank You that I have the willingness to constantly be shifting my life direction, whenever I sense You leading me differently. I thank You for the major shift that happened last year, and I pray for more direction as I continue to suss out what that looks like.
Thank You, Father, for all Your blessings in our life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.