Hello, everyone. Ian from Sydney here. Last month I wrote a post on the seeking to live in the unforced rhythms of grace by taking on the Lord’s easy yoke. Increasingly, I’m discovering how important it is especially amongst the everyday stresses and strains that we all experience. Accordingly, I wanted to reflect a little more on living such a life.
“We become what we behold” – William Blake
My word of the year is ‘Behold” and it doesn’t take long to understand the truth in it. The more time we spend thinking about something, focusing on something, the more entrenched it becomes in our minds. It’s now commonly acknowledged in science that the more beholding we do the more it will affect our thought patterns, our feelings and behaviours. Addiction behaviour is often a reflection simply of beholding something too frequently and for too long. Hence, the studies that have identified the negative associations of too much video gaming, watching inappropriate content and such like. It literally changes our brain.
And it’s the same with beholding God. The more time we spend with Him, the greater influence the Spirit will have in our lives. We only have to look at Paul’s quote in Philippians 4:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (v 8 MSG)
A Recurring Invitation
I expect we’re all familiar with the blind beggar who Jesus heals in Luke 18. Here we have a situation where Jesus approached Jericho accompanied by a crowd of people which clearly doesn’t happen every day in these parts. A blind man happened to be sitting on the roadside and asked what all the commotion was about, to be told that Jesus is passing by.
The blind man has clearly heard about Jesus and what He can do so he yells out to get his attention: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Yes, this is quite a bold desperate cry. It reminded me a little of the woman with long term bleeding who stretches through a packed crowd simply to touch the edge of Jesus’ cloak. She, like our blind man, believes the stories that Jesus can indeed heal.
Jesus is always passing by. Wherever we are, He is present. Jesus desires relationship with us. Not just in our prayer times, not just on Sundays in church, not just in our home groups. But all the time. Why? Because He knows that our best life is with Him. In constant communion. To abide. To be with Him. He knows we can only produce lasting fruit if we stay connected like a branch to a vine.
So He waits to be invited. He’s respectful and considerate. And as we can see, He’s not opposed to a desperate cry or act. Because he looks at the heart.
Paul prays we will invite Jesus in in his famous prayer of Ephesians 3:14-19 (MSG): Here’s just the one verse -
“ … that Christ will live in you as you open the door, and invite him in … to live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
How do we do it?
I’ll start with some practices I do and then it would be wonderful if others could share some that work for them in the ordinariness of every day. Here goes:
- I say, “Lord you are here”. I might say this at the breakfast table, walking the dog, driving in the car to pick up Dad to take to a medical appointment, sitting in the waiting room at said appointment. You get the idea. Anywhere, anytime. You might have your own little welcome.
- Express gratitude. I walk the dog early and typically I will be grateful to God for the beautiful blue sky, the breath in my lungs, for the new day.
I find gratitude opens my heart and sets me off praying.
- Praise, praise and more praise. I praise God. Most mornings and many times a day I will often simply say, “You mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Praise opens our hearts and serves as a great fear disabler. Have a look at Psalm 34.
- I close my day with Examen. It’s an Ignatian practice for reflecting on your day. It’s brief and once you get in the habit of it, you’ll find you’ll look forward to it. And you can do it any time during a day and multiple times if you like; my Pastor does it 3 times: morning, noon and night. Here’s a link if you want to know a little more about it. Like most practices there are different forms and different organizations have developed mobile Examen apps which you can download.
Okay. Over to you all. What practices have you found beneficial to enabling you to continue to behold God during the ordinariness of every day?
We’ll see you in the comments. Warmest blessings.