Today as I was reading the daily lectionary passages (which can be found here: http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2011/2/15/ ) , I was struck by the beginning of the passage from Isaiah 6:
7 I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD,
the praiseworthy acts of the LORD,
because of all that the LORD has done for us,
and the great favor to the house of Israel
that he has shown them according to his mercy,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love. What struck me about it was the intent behind the verse, as spelled out in the first line, essentially, I will 'recount' or remember what God has done for me. How often do we do that as individuals, sit down and actually think about and spell out, recount the things that God has done for us?
Do we do that when we go to God in prayer? How often do we do that in our churches or denominations? Well, however often it is, I have the strong sense that it isn't often enough.
If you read the thoughts here regularly you know that I have been, at best, inconsistent lately with the postings. I have shared that it was some combination of busyness, mid-winter blues and who-knows-what else and that is true.
But I think I have some idea of the 'who-knows-what' and it is with my lack of a habit of consistently remembering the grace and 'gracious deeds of the Lord'. You see, for me when I get busy or when things get tough I find that one of the first things to happen is that I get away from my daily routine of devotion, prayer and study. I tell myself that I 'will get to it later' or that I 'just don't have time right now'. I think that I have too much other stuff going on to concentrate on God's word or on spending time in prayer. I look at devotion and study of God's Word and prayer like they are some sort of sacrifice, like a penance to pay to God, like they serve no purpose other than to take up time in my day - time I could be using to get something done!.
Of course if you ask me I would honestly tell you I don't believe any of those things, but yet that is how I act. My first response when I get busy, when I find myself with a lot of things going on or a lot on my plate is to concentrate and focus on what I can do and what I can accomplish and truthfully prayer and bible study doesn't help with those things.
But, this passage from Isaiah today reminded me that focus on me and what I can do is entirely misplaced. If I am feeling down or overwhelmed or facing difficult tasks and/or decisions the most important thing I can do is to 'lean not on my own understanding' but to instead lean into God and begin to trust and rely on God more and more fully.
Relying on God, trusting in God and seeking the will of God begins with remembering that it was God that has brought you through difficult times, been present with you and responsible for triumphs and accomplishments, and is always with us. Remembering what God has done for us in the past is perhaps the best way to remember that it isn't all about us and that we can't to whatever it is in front of us alone. In fact we can't do anything without God's presence and help.
There is a temptation to feel scared or limited by this truth: I can't do it on my own. But I believe that is the best news possible. Even in my ordinary life there are moments I can look back on, accomplishments or achievements made that simply cannot be explained by my limited skill, gifts or abilities. These are the witnesses and examples to me that God is present and active in the world and in my life.
If we are to to have a right understanding of our place in God's mission and plan for the world and our lives, if we are to accomplish great things (or even important or simply ordinary things), if we are to do anything we need to remember that it is God working in and through us that is doing them.
This begins, I think, with remembering the great and ordinary things that God has already done for us.
Chip. This is a good word my friend. Thank God for grace in all things and His patience for us when we want to do it ourselves.ReplyDelete