Morning light spills through the window, but my thoughts swirl in a fog of discouragement and uncertainty. The daily press of life finds my soul weary.
I make my way to the kitchen and ponder how I have been setting my gaze too long on all that surrounds me, instead of holding fast my gaze on Him. Steaming water pours over freshly ground coffee beans and with the aroma of coffee, my prayers lift.
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:8 ESV)
The porch beyond my window is graced with early sun and it beckons me. Filling coffee to the mug’s brim, I take note of the laundry ever-piling and my to-do-list always calling. But a habit is forming in which I occasionally allow myself freedom for morning minutes in the Word to stretch into hours. Today the laundry and lists can wait, for it is my weary soul that needs tending.
Balancing my coffee cup in one hand . . . notebook, Bible, and pen in the other, I step lightly to the porch. I am ready to set my gaze on the Lord Jesus in order to find new courage and hope.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV)
My desire to sit long at the feet of Jesus was fanned into flame years ago, at a small church in Idaho. Our faithful Pastor Rob Zaklan, who has since gone home to be with the Lord, led the church in a Saturday of prayer. I remember chairs circled in the small sanctuary where brothers and sisters in Christ gathered together. Hours of prayer and Scripture flowed easily and all too soon the day was over as voices joined in the closing hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” A deep joy carried me as I drove home that day, for my worries and fears had indeed grown “strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. ”
On the porch table lies my spiral notebook, Bible, and pen. Children mill about in the routine of chores and the portion of their studies that can be done independently, while my youngest stays close, observing bugs and butterflies. My pen is a tool that helps me to focus and the conduit through which prayers and recorded Scripture tumble onto my notebook.
A favorite verse comes to mind: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) I flip to 2 Chronicles 20 to find the story surrounding verse 12. Courage and hope rise as I read these words: “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15 ESV)
Suddenly a burst of noise interrupts my reading. The argument my children are having needs attention, but soon the issue is settled and I return to my spot on the porch.
Opening my Bible to the Psalms, I soak in the poetic, powerful words that fall gently on my heart. The honesty of the Psalmist gives me permission to pour my troubles out to the Father and when David’s lament turns to praise, I am reminded of the great majesty and power of God.
I am in the Gospel of John when a verse leads me to pause: ” . . . for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” (John 12:43 NIV) How easily I am drawn to seek human praise and approval. But I know that praise from people delights for only a moment, while abiding in Jesus brings joy that sustains. So I pray for help to abide in Him and walk with Him.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11 ESV)
The sun is now overhead and it is time for my precious time in the Word to come to an end, but I carry with me strength of heart and hope made certain, for I have been renewed through the lifting of my gaze to Him.
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)