Hopefully Devoted: Today Time

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

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I finally purchased my own copy of Jesus Calling. As I shopped at my nearby Christian bookstore, I spied it. I picked up the very nice leather-like bound copy and read the tag-line of the title: Enjoying Peace In His Presence. I was in the midst of a series of messages on “Continuing the Work of Jesus…Peacefully.” Knowing I needed to continue growing in peace and peacemaking, I laid my money down—and I haven’t regretted the decision.

I love how a phrase can cut straight to the struggle of my heart. This morning I found a nugget that stopped me. 

I designed time to be a protection for you.

I had been washing dishes, getting breakfast, and having a running dialogue with God about the frustration I was having with feeling excessive stress, and how it was impacting my commitment to healthy eating. 

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As I walked past the dining room table, I glanced down and saw the devotional. Picking it up, I turned to today, and there it was.

I designed time to be a protection for you.

I have a large new responsibility coming up next week. I’ve been feeling anxious. Doubting my ability. Performance anxiety. 

My head dropped. I was doing it again. Worrying about a tomorrow, about what might be, about things I have no control over. Frustrating myself today. Trampling all over my daily goals, commitments, and opportunities by stressing about tomorrow.

Time. Time is a gift from God. 

Provision. God provides for me on a “daily” basis. Only gather enough manna for today. Give me this day—today—my daily bread. Today is the day of salvation.

God, forgive me for failing to recognize you wise provision and creation. Especially, when it comes to time. Help me to trust you for all my tomorrows and to live more completely in my today. Thanks. Amen.

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Hopefully Devoted: While You Wait

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Waiting is inevitable.

What we do with it is a choice.

Already this morning, I found myself waiting before I could go have “before-surgery-prayer” with someone at the hospital. Then on the way home, I had to stop for a school bus loading a dozen children.

Waiting is not only inevitable, it is inconvenient—we always seem to be waiting when we’d rather be doing something else.

So what can we do while we wait?

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We can read. We can pray. We can sing. We can pace (getting steps is always a good thing). We can talk to the others who are waiting around us.

These are the productive things we can do.

But we can also stew, grouse, complain, belly-ache, whine, and generally make everyone around us as miserable with the inconvenience as we are.

I know these things are options, because I’ve gone there way too many times myself.

Tucked away in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he makes reference to “redeeming the time” (5:16). This echos the Old Testament prayer of the Psalmist: “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have (Psalm 90:12).”

So how will you use your time, especially your waiting time, today?

May we all come to productive and wise usage…we’ll be happier for it…and God will be pleased.

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Resting

(This is a reposting of a Facebook Note from November 1, 2009)

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Where I work I spend most of my time in two rooms, the kitchen and dining room. They are open to each other. In those two rooms there are four clocks. Should I venture into either bathroom there’s a clock there, too. I never have to wonder or worry about what time it is.

Time. When we think about it we wonder what time it is. We wonder if we’re late or early. How much time do we have? What do we do with our time? We’re accused of wasting time, marking time, stretching time, and watching time fly by.

I used to rush through my days. I was proud of how much I could cram into a day. More was always better and therefore, resulted in a better me. When I gave up sleep to focus on saving the world (or at least my little corner), I made some of the stupidest and most dangerous decisions, decisions that nearly cost me everything, including my life. I finally came to the conclusion that there is a reason that God rested and a reason that he commands it of us, as well.

This morning was the time to change our clocks. It was time to “fall back.” While others were relishing an extra hour of sleep, I was awake and at my computer. I was reveling in the quiet. All I could hear was the rhythm of the clocks ticking around me. Now maybe if I only had that to listen to 24/7, it would become tortuous, but sitting here this morning, it was a Centering Symphony.

I was up “early” because someone imposed a time change on me. Isn’t that just how life seems to go? We grouse and complain because our time is not our own. Someone always seems to be demanding our time.

Recently, I was a t a retreat where the leaders took the watches and phones of the participants. The surrender was to free those attending from the tyranny of time. The thinking was/is to let the staff “worry” about time and schedule. Good as it was, the staff always had someplace for the participants to go or something for them to do, so there was no sense of “free time.”

Compare that to the experience of our house guest. We have a couple unoccupied rooms in our home, so we opened our space to a pastor friend who was between jobs with no place to stay. The first couple weeks she was with us, all she did was sleep, eat, and watch TV. Our interactions were minimal. Slowly, opportunities and necessities began to reenter her life and she began to go out with friends and go to some meetings. One day she came through the living room where I was reading. She sat and we chatted for a while. At the end of our talking, she shared how much she appreciated the opportunity to just be there with no expectations, just able to rest. It was the refreshing that she needed at every level of her being: heart, mind, soul, and strength.

In the great Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23), we find so much of the care provided to and for us. One of the things we may overlook is that he who knows us and our needs makes us lie down. Thinking of this reminded me of my grandson. I can always tell when Asher needs a nap. Some days so can he. Don’t make the Shepherd bop you on the head with his crook to get you to rest. We were not created to go 24/7.

One day as Jesus was ministering, he looked out at the crowd and was moved to compassion when he saw how weary and out of synch they were. He offered them rest, to restore their rhythm. To receive this gift they needed to come to him and learn from him. Don’t you think it’s time to listen, to learn, to rest?

Right On Time

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2Peter 3:9, ESV)

There is still time to pray for that friend, neighbor, or family member who has never placed their life and faith in God.

He wants that for everyone.

He is working things to that end.

PRAYER: God you are so patient with us. You are persistent. Help us to persist in prayer for those who have not reached repentance. Hear our prayers for others. Thank you for your patience with our slowness. Amen.

Advent 9: Good Gifts

Todays’s thought comes from James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

For some reason this morning I started singing the old hymn, Give of Your Best to the Master.

It is the season for giving gifts.

Buying gifts when the girls were young and we were foster parents was not something I enjoyed. Do I sound like Scrooge?

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give gifts. I just hated the way the kids counted their presents and made sure there was equity for all.

I dreaded hearing their pronouncement of: It’s not fair s/he got more than me.

Sigh. Like it was some kind of competition.

I don’t think I ever liked the gift giving part of Christmas. For so many years I was disappointed after not receiving the gifts I truly had my heart set on. I quit asking for things.

What would happen if we boycotted the whole gift giving insanity?

The best “gifts” my children ever gave me were the coupon booklets that they proudly (or forced) made in school. There were coupons for cleaning their room, or doing the dishes without being asked. They were the kinds of things that cost no money but demonstrated love and care.

They were gifts of time.

The best gifts are like that. They are gifts of time, of touch…of you.

Who could you give the gift of you to this Christmas?

You know who gave you the best gift, don’t you? He gave himself. Pretty good example to follow.