Friday, September 9, 2011

Recollection: Bringing Focus to the Whole Day

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

How does my morning devotional time relate to my busy, hectic, ADHD day?

Whether we consciously articulate this question or not, it is one that so many of us have. Often we simply “recharge our batteries” during our quite time with the Lord, only to lose our focus an hour later as we become consumed by all the activity of the day. It seems like every day gets out of hand and we switch into “crisis mode,” losing any sense of focus and balance that we gained in solitude with God.

In John 16:33 Jesus tells us that as long as we are in this world, we will have tribulation. There will always be responsibilities and crises that stir anxiety inside of us. The issues is, how can we cultivate being “anxious for nothing” (Phil 4:6)? How can we bring our devotional time to bear on our daily lives of work, family, and responsibility? Here are a few thoughts.

Genuine Connection
The first thing I need to do is truly connect with the Lord at the start of the new day. Some days that happens quite spontaneously during my quiet time—I sense the Lord’s presence, and hear his voice speak to me in his Word.

Other mornings are not quite so easy, especially if I’m tired. Those days it is important to stir myself awake. Reading Psalms and singing several worship songs or hymns helps me to wake up and engage my heart with the Lord.

“Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.” (Psalm 108:2-3)

The goal is coming into God’s holy presence. “The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop,” states Thomas Kelly in his little classic, A Testament of Devotion. “They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our mind be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life. And in brief intervals of overpowering visitation we are able to carry the sanctuary frame of mind out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.”[1]

Entering God’s presence in the morning is not enough to live a truly God-controlled, God-saturated life. Rather, we need to return periodically to that inner sanctuary throughout the day. We need to re-collect our thoughts and our heart from all the distractions and worries of the day.

This practice of refocusing our heart and mind has classically been called “recollection.” We re-collect ourselves—gathering our scattered thoughts, focusing back on the Lord, re-connecting with his love for us, reminding ourselves that he is in absolute control.

In our multitasking world, recollection is not easy. Although the theory is simple enough to grasp, the practice of daily recollection is much more difficult for most of us. Virtually everything in our contemporary culture militates against maintaining focus. Images on TV come to us at a rate of about one per second. Advertisements clamor for our attention. Email, voicemail and snail mail demand that we respond before tomorrow.

Therefore, we must be intentional if we are going to maintain any type of connection with the Lord throughout the day. “How, then, shall we lay hold of that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing?” asks Kelley. “By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the deeps of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established.” [2]

Persistent Practice of Turning
Periodically throughout the day, I am learning to turn away from all the bustle and demands around me in order to turn toward that inward sanctuary. I’m finding that morning and evening are not enough. If I am to maintain my inner peace with the Lord, I need to jump off the merry-go-round regularly throughout the day to reestablish my focus on the Lord, remind my consciousness of his control and reassure my heart of his absolute love for me.
[1] Thomas R. Kelley, A Testament of Devotion (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1941, 1992), p. 4.
[2] Ibid. p. 11.

© 2011 Glenn E. Myers

No comments:

Post a Comment