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February 2019

morning devotions: prayers, and a poem

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The Bravest Thing

    by John Blase

maybe the bravest thing

is opening your eyes in the

morning and placing your

two feet on the cold floor and

rising up against the gravity

of the night. maybe that’s the

brave thing from which all other

bravery flows, the brave to

seek ye first, maybe that’s the

single thing God requires of you,

the spiritual discipline that takes

all your will to muster. Swallow

down the fear, my friend, and face

the dawning day for what the

surface of the world needs most

of all is bravery skipping and

you, yes you are the stone.

Up at the 4:30 alarm and thinking about the poem, “The Bravest Thing,” by John Blase. The first, most important step of my day is simply opening my eyes, putting my two feet on the cold floor and walking into the day ahead of me. My goal is to “seek Ye first,” and I pray from there,... God, get a hold of me and fling me furiously. May I skip, alight and impact the world with your aim, your impetus and your Presence.

As I drink my morning coffee, I think about the “perfect” skipping stone. It is flat, smooth, and is an ideal fit for the hand that is doing the throwing. Not all rocks are ready for skipping; only those that have been prepared by waiting at the bottom of a lake or river, worn down by sand, seasons, rushing water and time. God is ever looking for the right stone to skip into the world—for his influence, his impact and his pleasure.

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

                                            (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV)

Lord, find me, make me, empower me and use me for your Glory. May my life give you delight and may the places where I "skip" today ripple outwards with your love, mercy and grace.

do you remember to remember?

IMG_4780Do you remember to remember?

I seldom do. But when I do remember to remember, it is rich.

One thing that helps me in my remembering is my journaling habit. Every morning I download onto paper all the stuff that is in my head and in my heart, and the result is a haphazard collection of thoughts, whinings, wishes, memories, thanksgivings, frustrations, rejoicings, repentance, ponderings, pontifications and desperate prayers that are barely suitable for my eyes only—and yet, somehow God uses it all for good in my life.

For me, journaling is an act of in-the-moment, short-term remembering that I find extremely helpful. But the real payoff is when I look back in my journals—at the vaporous days, months, years and decades of my life—and recall, reminisce, weep, rejoice, reflect and remember. Without fail, in all my rememberings, I see the unmistakable threads of God’s mercies (which run into the billions) and the relentless, extravagant, faithful grace of God, woven in and through the story my life. (Ps. 119:156, MSG)

When I remember to remember, it is rich. It is how I learn and grow and become.

John Dewey says, “We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” Just doing things and experiencing them isn't enough. The power to learn, change, grow and become is primarily realized in and through those things that we think about and reflect upon. Experience teaches us that there are some things to be avoided and there are some elements of the remembered past that may well be worth repeating. In God’s economy and grace it's about becoming all that we can be in Him. A primary way to do that is through remembering.

The story of God is replete with references to the act of remembering. From the early days in the lives of the Children of Israel, to the last few hours of Jesus’ time on earth, remembering is primary to the very core of being a follower of God. With his eyes on the future, Jesus sat at the table with the disciples and he equated the bread and wine before them with his body, blood, life and impending death upon the cross, and then He entreated them to regularly partake of the elements and when they do, . . . to remember.

“We won’t walk into God’s good future if we have no memories of God’s mighty acts on our behalf in the past. Or at least, we won’t walk into the fullness of that future, with all the power and healing force for our communities that God intends. Again and again in Scripture, one of the fundamental rhythms is that of remembrance.”

                                            —Len Hjalmarson

What got me started on all this thinking and talk of remembering is a song I recently came across by Steven Curtis Chapman called, “Remember to Remember.” The song and accompanying video moved me greatly (ok, I must admit, I wept). It caused me to remember and, it called me to remember.

So, I leave you with this: take a walk, go on a hike, find a quiet place and reflect; let the memories linger, resonate and . . .

Remember the way He led you up to the top of the highest mountain

Remember the way He carried you through the deepest dark

Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead

Look where you've been and where you're going

And remember to remember

                —Steven Curtis Chapman

(Check out the song and video below.)