“… Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29
It’s August and the summer days are waning. If you’re anything like me, you are still hanging onto the season…feasting your eyes (when you can) on the beautiful lush landscapes…and still enjoying the long daylight hours. As I’m writing this I’m sitting outside and also smiling at the sounds of neighborhood children playing a crazy game of kickball next door. There are a couple squirrels running along the back fence and a brazen little rabbit, is poised in the yard, taunting my golden retriever. The birds are chirping their evening melody and I’m still noticing the faint aroma of someone’s charcoal grill…and evening meal, nearby.
My senses are taking in all the peace and it becomes a prayer.
Some have called this a prayer of consideration: one in which we purposefully raise our minds and hearts to God, while still steeped in the concrete circumstances of our world. It’s a prayer of awareness, acknowledging what we are experiencing and sharing it with our God, Who is within and around us.
Jesus did this a lot as He used His awareness for object lessons in His teaching. Here He contrasts the magnificent beauty of field lilies, wild flowers much akin to our colorful anemones…with our needless worry over daily provision.
What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling right now? How about earlier today or during your morning run or walk…or even your drive into work?
I have a dear friend who worships many mornings at the magnificent sunrises she experiences on her way to the office. She then snaps phone photos of them. What a wonderful reminder later, during a low point in her day, as she’s able to once again gaze upon the images she had captured that morning.
What simple ways can you incorporate prayers of consideration into the concrete circumstances of your world? They’re all around you.
“Consider the lilies…”
Summer, 2017 is well on its way and so are the picnics, backyard barbeques and … if you are so blessed, pool parties. On my neighborhood walks it’s not unusual to catch the wonderful whiff of hamburgers grilling and the sounds of love and laughter in the air. It’s so inviting … yes, and also comforting to feel the sense of welcoming and safety these represent.
There’s something else about these summer gatherings that is now unique in our culture. They seem relaxed and unhurried. Hurry, a norm in most of our lives now, … has been defined by Eugene Peterson as an act of violence against time. Wow! Just sit and ponder that one for awhile!
Consequently, when we create safe, open, unhurried spaces where friends (or strangers) can enter and experience the welcoming Spirit of Jesus Christ, ... we are practicing hospitality.
When we can sit with another, face to face, in an unhurried fashion, we are offering the gift of presence.
When we are willing to offer a cold drink and simply relax and listen to a friend who needs to process, we are acting as Christ to him or her.
This summer try welcoming guests with all of your heart, lingering at the door when they leave until they pull out of the driveway, and then spending a few extra minutes praying for them before you move on. Who knows, you may have “…unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)
‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
The shelf in my kitchen cupboard reserved for cups and mugs is overflowing. This seems a bit silly, for my large family has long since been launched, and while guests come often, they rarely arrive in large groups. Yet every time I deal with that shelf (usually after unloading the dishwasher) I come to the same conclusion. All the cups must stay because they all represent something important.
I’m smiling as I think about those vessels that have special purpose:
Ahhh and speaking of comforting “feels”, … some of the mugs are set aside for that hot, delicious coffee wake up, especially on more leisurely mornings. Others can be allowed to hold only hot aromatic teas for mid-afternoon perc-ups or evening relaxation. My goodness, I even have two huge mugs that are reserved for hot soups on cold winter nights and other mugs that are reserved for serving special people. And…last but certainly not least, I also have a mug that a dear friend just leaves at my home for her frequent visits.
Silly? Am I alone in this fetish or do any of you relate? Do you have a cupboard shelf of vessels waiting to be filled to overflowing?
You know there really is a spiritual message in all of this.
Are you filled to overflowing today…pouring out to different people in different ways?
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
“And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23: 5-6
If this speaks to your heart today, do share it.
God bless you all!
“Then the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, Here am I…” I Samuel 3:4
There are several places in the Old Testament where this little response to the Lord’s Voice, hinneni, (here am I) can be found. As I’ve pondered, I’ve come to love the heart picture this brings into focus.
“Here am I Lord” epitomizes attentiveness to that precious Presence to which we train ourselves to respond:
However, the assumption of this picture is: we are listening and we are able to be quiet and peaceful enough to pause and answer Him.
Spring is one of those seasons of the year when this is questionable. The world seems to move in and take total control. Suddenly we’re dealing with end-of-school-year projects, concerts, and graduations. For others it’s corporate deadlines, budget pressures, and the crunch before vacations. Add to that gardens, flower beds, and lawn chores that won’t wait. Oh…and yes…we mustn’t forget the dreaded changing of closets and drawers to accommodate the new season. If clothes are “temporarily” not quite fitting like they were when we packed them away, (or the kiddos have grown exponentially over the winter months), we can plan on adding a shopping trip or two into the mix. The beauty of blossoming trees and glorious birdsong can only be observed longingly through windows that also desperately need to be washed.
Ahhh but take heart, my dear friends. You are not alone. I couldn’t even get this blog published on time last week! But through it all, the Lord’s strong and quiet Voice will return. He understands.
Meanwhile please go easy on yourself concerning spiritual practices. Just carry one verse in your heart each day. Perhaps it could be from the devotional Jesus Calling that you’ve thrown in your bag or an app on your phone that you can access during a break or lunch. The YouVersion Bible app has some excellent options. Quiet your heart, open your mind and simply answer: Here am I Lord…Here am I.
May I also suggest a wonderfully light but powerful read when summer does arrive and some life-space returns? Sharon Garlough Brown has written three books in a substantive fiction series based on four women who meet each other at a weekend retreat. They all learn to embrace the spiritual disciplines as their very diverse lives become intertwined. Hinneni becomes a very meaningful practice for each of them. The book titles are in the resources listed to the right, and I am very sure you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!
“When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the burning bush, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here am I.” Exodus 3:4
This evening I was present at a lovely dinner and gathering. As part of the program, these questions were asked:
“How is your soul?”
“Inside, are you a person of peace?”
“When someone bumps into you, what will come out?”
We were reminded that Jesus purposefully took care of His soul:
“…large crowds were gathering to hear Him and be healed of their sicknesses. But
Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:15-16 NASB
Jesus also was diligent in the care of His disciples’ souls:
“And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a
while. (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have
time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.”
Mark 6:31-32 NASB
Dear friends, how are your souls this beautiful spring day? Are you at peace? Are you interacting with those around you from a position of fullness? If so, what would come out if someone were to bump into you? Seriously!
There is a beautiful spiritual practice that will allow you to keep watch over the state of your soul. It is called an Examen and is a very simple little tool to inventory your day. While the evening is the best time for the daily practice, it may also be used to pray about any other meaningful time period (such as a week or a year); or about a distinct event that has taken place.
Here's the important part! The Examen restores your focus on God, looking for and celebrating His Presence and action in your day and in your life. It is not an examination of conscience that actually places the focus on yourself and how you have fallen short. Oh, the Lord may highlight something that needs repentance and forgiveness, but He will also reveal how His love was active in your life. Why don’t you give it a try? I could be life changing.
Allow between five and fifteen minutes for the daily Examen. It is meant to be very flexible.
1. Pray for God’s help.
Just relax and invite the Lord to “be” with you during this time.
It is wise to choose a Scripture and focus on the Words.
Take deep breaths and let yourself see your day as God sees it.
2. Give thanks for the gifts of the day.
Review the day and name the blessings – significant and obvious; common and ordinary.
Honor the gifts of others and recognize the gifts in you.
Where was/is Your love Lord?
Where was it active today?
Where is it leading?
3. Pray over significant feelings that surface as You replay the day.
Look for interior movements: joy or sad; pleasing or painful; subtle or strong.
Pick one or two and ask the Lord:
Help me understand what aroused those feelings, Lord, and where did they lead me?
Show me if they drew me closer to You, or did they lead me away from You?
4. Rejoice (in times you were brought closer to God); and seek forgiveness (for times when you resisted God’s Presence).
5. Look to Tomorrow: invite Him to be a part of your sleep and your tomorrow.
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You Know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar….How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!...” Psalm 139: 1-2, 17
I'm a spiritual Director, speaker, and teacher with a sincere desire to share all that the Lord has taught me. It is my passion to help you create a “sacred space” of deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Resources for Going Deeper
Consider the Lilies
1. "Busy Lives & Restless Souls" by Becky Eldredge
1. "Sensible Shoes"
2. "Two Steps Forward-A Story of Persevering in Hope"
3. "Barefoot - A Story of Surrendering to God"
All titles by Sharon Garlough Brown
What Would Come Out if Someone Bumps Into You?
1. "The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making" by Elizabeth Liebert
What is Your Sacred Pathway?
1. "Sacred Pathways, Discover Your Soul's Path to God" by Gary Thomas
Spring Training...have you Started?
1. "The Good and Beautiful God, Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows" by James Bryan Smith
Hurry and Slow Down
1. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
2. "Answering God" by Eugene Peterson
3. "Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part of You"
by John Ortberg
STOP Before You Start Your Journey
1. "Sabbath" by Dan Allender
2. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
3. "Soul Feast" by Marjorie Thompson