Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ordinary Time: Testing Daily Discipleship

Ordinary time tests our faith. Are we following Jesus because we are genuinely committed to him, willing to be faithful through thick and thin, or are we doing so because we want more of the warm inner feelings that we enjoy so much?

January and February can be so bland. There is no green to see, no flowing water (at least in frozen-over Minnesota). Confined to the indoors, life can become dull. This is also the season of the Church Year known as “Ordinary Time.” Lost between the hope and light of Advent/Christmas and the intensity of Lent, leading into Easter, Ordinary Time is just that: ordinary. All combined, this can be a flat time of year for me—physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Ordinary life and Ordinary Time, however, are valuable because they test us. If we have been going to church and practicing daily devotions simply because we like beautiful services, inner comfort or spiritual “high,” our devotion dissipates like the morning fog in the midst of commonplace responsibilities and the commitment of daily discipleship this time of year. We shift our focus to more exciting options than the long-haul of spiritual growth. Although we still want to consider ourselves “good Christians,” our lives have little to do with pursuing Christ.

Yes, Ordinary Time proves what is inside us. If our hearts have shallow roots, anchored only in the special times of life, we dry up during long cold seasons. If, however, we choose to put our roots deep down in ongoing discipleship, we will do well, even when spiritual consolations are few and far between. Then, as the world around us begins to thaw--come Lent, Easter and springtime—we discover that our roots are stronger and deeper than ever in our devotion to the Lord.  

Let us, therefore, take courage during Ordinary Time. As Scripture exhorts us:

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly
rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have
done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
For in just a very little while,
‘He who is coming will come and will not delay.’”

     -Hebrews 10:35-37

2016 © Glenn E. Myers

Friday, January 15, 2016

Integrally Connected with God along Life’s Paths

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not trust in your own understanding.
In all your paths know him,
and he will direct your path.”
-Proverbs 3:5-6 (translated from the Hebrew)
How do we know God’s path for our life, or even for our current stretch of the Journey? First of all we have Scripture, God’s Word, guiding us. “Thy word,” cries the Psalmist, “is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (119:105 KJV). God’s Word lays out the principles for living a godly life and walking with our Lord.

“The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous. . . .
By them your servant is warned,
in keeping them there is great reward.”
-Psalm 19:9-11
Second, God gives us more personalized guidance in our lives. Although we might like a set of directions printed out before we begin the journey—like Google Maps offers—the Almighty seldom guides us that way. Rather, he is more relational. The Lord wants us to stay in contact with him. God is more interested in our getting to know him than how quickly we get to a given destination.
Proverbs 3 exhorts us: “In all your paths, know him.” The word for “know” here is Yadah. Although it is often rendered “acknowledge,” that translation does not bring out the full import of the word. Yadah is much more hands-on, much more intimate: it implies personal knowing and experiencing. The same word used for Adam “knowing” Eve, resulting in a child!
Thus we are called in Proverbs 3 to know the Lord personally, be attentive to the Lord, as we walk life’s paths. We are to experience his presence and love and protection. We are to know him personally, talking with him along the way. If we do so, he will indeed “direct our path.” Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to little children (*). As a little child, each of us can walk hand-in-hand with him along the path.
How can you and I walk on a new level of “knowing” the Lord as we go through this week? Whatever method we might use, I pray that we would Yadah the Lord—know him, experience him, be attentive to him, even walk hand-in-hand with our loving Heavenly Father. As we do so, he will indeed direct our path!

© 2016 Glenn E. Myers