How’s your day going? Is it the crazy madness that is typical of modern life? Or perhaps you were struck by the pandemic’s unique way of pulling most of the stabilizing anchor points from your life, and you found yourself drifting down a river of confusion, unclear of direction or purpose. Whether driven to exhausting activity by seeming unreasonable tasks or pushed into a formless mist of loss intentions, we were not designed to be trapped in the undertow of this world’s circumstances, but instead, to live life with meaningful relationships and abundant accomplishments.
I have developed this ritual; it’s a part of my discipline for prayer. By nature, I am a creature of habits. I need order to control the chaos of my mind that is always brewing under the surface. I seem to always need inputs to order the actions that are continually processing. My family makes fun of me because I’m always multitasking — usually watching something on TV while reading a book and participating (listening to) in a conversation. Juli comments because I’m not giving her the full attention she deserves (of course, she’s right – she’s always right).
It’s just that I seem to oscillate between multiple streams of consciousness flowing through my mind or silence. At other times when I’m alone, without people or interactions, I can sit still; my mind seemingly on idle — no thoughts, no emotions, no ... nothing. You know the joke wives always ask their husbands, “What are you thinking about?” The answer usually is… nothing. But once I start thinking again, the streams start to flow again, and the need to be busy occupies me and drives me forward. Over the years, this has gotten a little better. But it’s still a problem.
So, how do I channel the chaos? I have developed “disciplines” to keep me on the right track, my mind focused on things above. My morning prayer, preparation, and reading time is the most important of those. If I miss that time, the whole day is usually mixed up. I read the day’s offerings from two of my favorite sources. I have tried changing to other devotionals, but I always come back to these sources. It’s likely because they are mostly scripture and not someone else’s commentary on scripture.
Then as I shower and dress, I pray for God’s guidance and blessing over all my family members and their close friends and associates. I pray over any pressing needs I’ve been presented to intercede for. Some may think I’m not reverent enough because I’m doing this while I’m preparing for the day; but this keeps me awake and focused (Hint: I used to fall asleep when trying to do this “reverentially”).
At one time, I feared I was just developing a rote prayer with “empty phrases” like Matthew 6:7-8 describes. Later, I realized that this pattern, this discipline was necessary for me. It prepared the ground for me to truly hear from the Lord. This prayer usually extends into my car as I begin the 30-minute journey to work. I then listen to 10 minutes of scripture, which usually then leaves me 10-15 minutes of sitting in His presence alone. Sometimes I’m playing worship music, singing to Him. I’ve told stories of how the Lord has spoken to me during this time. Other days, it’s just quietly listening, usually just grateful and thankful that He would love me enough to spend that time with me — waiting for Him to speak. This time forms an anchor to my reality and provides a stable perspective to view the chaos around me.
Each of us are unique creations that reflect a perspective of God that no other person can display. Because we are unique, our personalities and our relationship with God are also unique and need their own space to develop, grow, and manifest. No how-to book or relationship guide can give you the answers to, “pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 ESV). Only the One who knows both the beginning and the end of the story can take your hand and lead you to where you are to go.
However, I do believe each of us has to develop some form of discipline to ensure we continue to hold His hand and be led to that place of promise. Otherwise, we are all too often like our own children who are quickly distracted by the noise and bright lights of this world and wander off, later wondering where God went.
It is often said that each partner in marriage must give 100% for that relationship to fully blossom and be successful. I don’t know about you, but I find it nearly impossible to always give 100%. (Ask Juli how many times I’ve had to apologize this week!) How much more difficult is it to hold His hand, especially through the storms and turbulence of this life. So I’ve accepted that I can’t; my grasp is too weak — but He can.
In the end, my discipline facilitates me staying close to Him to prevent anything I do from interfering with His hold on me. It keeps me from pulling free and walking away. I need to stay close to Him, so I don’t hinder His love. This lesson also teaches me that I need to value the people I love in my life and do all I can to stay close to them. Quality time is great but does not take the place of quantity time. If I care, I will stay. Our relationships with Him and those we love will require an athletic commitment to gain that prize and meet that upward call.
Wherever you are in your daily faith journey, recognize that He is walking with you, asking for you to trust Him to walk you on the best path. Don’t let the craziness of this life blind you to what is truly valuable in life. Find your pattern, your ritual, your discipline that will ground you in your reality and give you the proper perspective to view the world. It will serve you well and help you see what is important when the fog of life threatens to hide truth from you and steer you in the wrong direction. It will enable you to receive insight and wisdom from others needing to have a more complete picture of who you are. More so, it will empower you to see yourself more clearly and comprehend where you have come from in order to enable your path forward.
In the end, much of life is about the journey. Am I a better human, husband, father, friend, servant, and child of God than I was yesterday? If I keep my hand in His hand on this path, that answer will always be “Yes!”
Listening Library: Used To This (feat. Naomi Raine & Brandon Lake)
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3 ESV)
Used To This
Time stands still Whenever I'm with You No more important place to go There's no rush Not in a hurry It's ok to take it slow Minutes turning into hours Doesn't really matter I just want You You're the only one I'm after Spirit come in power I just want You Lord forgive me I've been too busy Trying to do this on my own Your embrace Is what I've been missing And I don't want to let it go Minutes turning into hours Doesn't really matter I just want You You're the only one I'm after Spirit come in power I just want You I just want You I just want You Nothing compares to You Nothing comes close If this is a glimpse of heaven I could get used to this I could get used to this The fragrance of Your presence I could get used to this I could get used to this Minutes turning into hours Doesn't really matter I just want You You're the only one I'm after Spirit come in power I just want You I just want You I just want You Nothing compares to You Nothing comes close
Songwriters: Aaron Moses, Brandon Lake, Naomi Raine, Steven Furtick