Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly - Psalm 5:3b
What do you do every day?
I definitely check my phone, for better or worse, on a daily basis. Drink coffee. Brush my teeth. Check some sports news. Tell my children I love them. The usual stuff I suppose. Within a Jesus-following worldview there are different opinions about the need and value of daily disciplines. There are some strong and trendy opinions about devotional patterns floating around at the moment. ’Should’ you read the Bible everyday serves as the best example of the tension (there’s room for all of the opinions and reasons, for and against). ‘Morning’ in Psalm 5 verse 3 isn’t suggesting a daily devotional rhythm in perhaps the ways we have been taught and told though. It is a reference to devotion but deeply connected to worship and understood, probably, through Jewish ritual and maybe even sacrifice. A preparation is potentially a more helpful way for us to engage with the ideas being shared by the psalmist. Push past familiar thoughts of a ‘quiet time’ or singular verses from a reading plan, this is a deliberate setting up of awareness of the presence of God.
What is the presence of God? It might depend on who you ask. Sometimes it can be helpful to understand what something is not to gain some clarity on what it is.
The presence of God isn’t music, it is not a feeling, it is not Sunday morning at 10:30, it is not Jeremiah 29:11 or Philippians 4:13, it is not behaviour modification, it is not material possessions, it is not your favourite preacher, it is not speaking in tongues, it is not acts of charity, it is not silence, it is not ritual, it is not repetition.
The presence of God can be in all of the above.
The presence of God is the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. Jesus has made a way for the most holy place to be within you. No longer the limits of tent, tabernacle or temple, the dwelling place of the presence of God, because of Jesus, is the Spirit of God in you.
Our understanding of the presence of God, and our carrying of it, has to shape our preparation. I am not still in devotional patterns to invoke the presence of God, I wait expectantly because of the presence of God in me.
Perpetually being in the presence of God, because of His steadfast love, faithfulness, and desire to be with His creation, leads my plan of approach through life.
How well are you setup for what is happening around you?
It’s difficult to talk about, for so many reasons, but we all get a pass for not feeling particularly chuffed with the last couple of years. Some of the residue of feeling out of control for long periods of time, I believe, is thinking it’ll be like this forever. It won’t.
There are things inside of your control you can choose to pay attention to. Our reactions and responses to other people are firmly in the ‘I can choose’ pile.
If you currently have no approach to life don’t be surprised or become angry when things change. We are in perpetual motion, nothing ever stays still or the same, we can choose to be threatened or encouraged by our awareness of movement.
Take a moment to consider your approach to today. Did you pack a bag, make lunch, organise to meet with someone, book a session at the gym, get to a desk by 9am, feed the kids, remember your laptop? Planning your approach is not the hyper-work ethic of the 80s or administrating creativity and spontaneity out of existence but it is a Spirit-filled awareness of the world around us. Which way is the wind blowing, what do your neighbours care about, what’s on our collective mind? As apprentices of Jesus we need to know. Choosing to be aware of the conditions we are in helps us.
How do we choose to become aware?
Hang out with people, eat together, fix things, find things, enjoy things, with other people. Don’t look away from difference. Turn up. Dial the 5 year plan for world domination down a bit to make some room for people struggling to remember what day it is. The relentless march of chaos is determined to separate creation from the Creator and those bearing the image. Individual rituals will not turn the tide of chaos. Awareness grows as our ‘morning’, our preparation in the presence of God, develops expectancy to carry something rather than receive it. Psalm 5 is a prayer-song contrasting the nature of God with the potential of human evil realising the threat is as much internal as external.
I am as capable of being the ‘bad guy’, Lord, help!
Prepared properly awareness now is not avoiding other people but understanding my approach to security, significance and acceptance is dependant on loving them well. My approach to peace and hope and love is the presence of God.
Psalm 5 concludes by reminding the people of God, guidance, protection, and love will fill you with joy. What do you do every day and does it include remembering you are filled with joy?