“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
– Psalm 16:8, ESV –
A ship bucking the waves will wander if no anchor ties it to the sea floor.
And this girl careens into bland unsteadiness without her God.
It’s so easy to go through the motions. It is so easy to offer up the token prayer and a few minutes of Bible reading and check “quiet time” off my agenda for the day.
And, unsurprisingly, going through the motions does nothing to steady me.
So, like an unbalanced top, I go spinning through my days and weeks with a haunting feeling that I’m missing something. I know I should slow down and be still. I know I should do many things.
But usually it is desperation that brings me around at last.
Sometime, a long time ago, I picked up a book called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Perhaps it is my Protestant upbringing, but I looked with suspiscion the little book written by a Catholic monk. But the title lingers with me…the practice of God’s presence. The idea intrigues me.
Could it be that my life of faith needs a lot more action verbs to go along with it?
Practice. Practice God’s presence. Set. Set the Lord always before me. Seek. Seek His face forever. Run. Run for the prize.
Lately, I’ve been more into the passive verbs…or lazy verbs is more like it. Scanning the Scripture. Hoping I’ll pick up some spiritual steam by osmosis. That didn’t happen. My spiritual gusto finally dwindles back down to desperation.
But I don’t feel capable of getting myself on track again. I don’t feel able to conjure up more “spiritual steam.” I don’t know how to prime the pump on that well of joy.
Laying in bed listening to the music filtering from the CD player, I realized…maybe I don’t have to do all those things. Yes, I have responsibility. I have to exert effort. I have to make choices. I have to lift my eyes and see Him.
Yet, out of the night silence, the song quieted my heart:
After all these years
I would have thought that all these fears
Were laid to rest
But I still get scared
I thought that all my struggles
Would be victories by now
But I confess
That the mess is there
Oh, I know the work that you began
Is coming to an end someday
After all these years…
You never let go
You never let go…
Your love endures forever
Wherever I go
After all these years
That’s all that I know.
“After All These Years”, by Peterson, Goodgame, and Cates
Far from excusing my sin, the song pierced me and led me to the mercy of the One who is still with me, after all these years, after all the times I go about my day with hardly a nod in His direction.
And this I know–the God who never lets go can take my stubborn, lazy heart and turn it toward Him.
I’m not off the hook. I still have to practice and set, seek and run. But my strength won’t cover it.
Thank God that He never lets go, even when this ship tries to squirm loose of her anchor.
Maybe you, like me, have felt the fervency of your relationship with God slipping of late. Join me in seeking His face with all that is in you. Join me in praying for a heart that loves what He loves.
So…I am practicing. The sinking sun’s gold reminds me of Who has hold of my hand–the One who can form sparkling fireballs with his words. The dinner that I’ll soon be preparing is food He provided. The rattle of a family member’s work in the other room, the quiet tones of music streaming from my computer (“After All These Years” on repeat), and so many other tiny things stir up my heart to thank God–and in so doing, I remember that He is here. I remember that He is Great, and Good, and that this great, good God somehow, miraculously, loves me.
After all this time, He’s still holding on to this often-wandering child.
Now, all that is left to do is open my eyes and see.
“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
– “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson –