Can one bite of God’s word sustain you for the day?

1 Comment

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 NIV The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9 NIV

The message is not new.  We Christians are regularly exhorted to spend time with the Lord each day. Having one’s quiet time is held in high esteem.  For some people, this is easy to do.  If you have the time and you enjoy reading, it’s not a difficult practice to implement and maintain.  I have always loved my early morning time.  And these days, since all my work is as a volunteer, I enjoy the slower time with my Bible, coffee, notebook and prayer app.

But the pressure to keep up this healthy and holy practice sometimes has unintended consequences.  What first comes to mind is the temptation to turn this daily ritual into a checklist item.  Something you have to do in order to be considered a spiritual Christian.  ‘Whew, check THAT off my list!’ doesn’t foster a rich, meditative listening experience. 

I think there is potentially an even more insidious outcome that may ensue. Haven’t we all felt guilty when we can’t seem to keep this rhythm going? Who is not overwhelmed with the daily tasks and demands placed on 21st century busy people? That time with Jesus can easily get crowded out by good things.  Guilt and shame can follow.  “I must not be a good Christian because I either can’t dedicate the daily time I ‘should’ or when I do sit down with my Bible and coffee, I feel dry.  It FEELS rote.”

This morning I read a small devotional that mentioned the two verses above.  All of a sudden, I thought: ‘Maria, just that first verse is enough to chew on all day long. For someone super busy, if she took just one verse and brought it back to mind throughout the day, what a feast she could have!’

So, just how does one mediate on a verse? Let’s break down the first one from Psalm 4:1 into small bites: Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer

David is so direct with God. He doesn’t mince words.  He tells God, ‘Listen up!  I’m talking to you. I have a need.’

Next, he expresses confidence in the Lord.  He reminds God in essence, ‘I know you to be righteous.  I don’t doubt that you WILL hear me and help me.’

Next, we can discern that David has a specific problem in mind.  He feels distress.  He has an enemy or he is in a tight place with no visible way out. We all fall into distress.  Not just occasionally, but multiple times.

A woman I know from tutoring her young daughter in English lives in Moscow.  God has kept us connected since I taught Veronika.  When her son dropped out of university at the end of last summer, he had to enlist in the Army for 12 months.  Two weeks ago, he was sent to the front.  I never bring up politics or the news when I check in with her.  I usually find a verse and google its Russian translation and send it to her.  She is a mom who is in distress.  She fears greatly for the safety of her son. 

I thought of her this morning when I read Psalm 4:1. My overall prayer for her is that the Lord bring her, her son and young daughter to a vibrant relationship with Jesus through this distress.

Finally, once David shares his specific need, he asks for mercy.  He doesn’t tell God how to rescue him.  He simply appeals to God’s character. He knows how merciful the Lord is. And he trusts him.

What struck me this morning is that for those of us who have those seasons or days or weeks of too much to do, there need not be any guilt.  Simply take ONE verse, ONE promise or fact about God from the Bible.  Maybe write it out on a 3×5 card.  And direct your mind back to it multiple times a day.  Think it through and apply it to your life right now. 

That’s worth far more than reading three chapters and not remembering anything that you can take with you during the day. The point is to direct our thoughts toward God, toward all we have been given as members of God’s family.

So, eat to savor.  Don’t just swallow your spiritual food without tasting it over and over again.  Let’s be like cows who keep chewing their food throughout the day.

A good night’s sleep?

2 Comments

Jason sleeping

Psalm 4: 7-8 (ESV) You have put more joy in my heart
    than …when…grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Right circumstances don’t bring this kind of quiet contentment. Only when I crush my ‘natural’ reliance on things going ‘my way’, and rely on God and His goodness can I rest this evening and every day. This IS the new and abundant life, the Sabbath Rest.

%d bloggers like this: