The day was glorious with windswept blue skies filled with scudding puffy white clouds. The fields, some with rich earth freshly turned by plow, some with the stubble of recent harvest, stretched out like a patchwork quilt of gold, brown, and soft green hues flung out to air in the breeze. Late fall in Ontario: with the leaves mostly blown and beaten from the trees by autumn wind and rain; stands of orange pumpkins outside every grocery store and frosty mornings a promise of winter surely coming.
It was after lunch when I headed to my office, turning my back reluctantly on the beauty of the day. I checked the phone for messages, pen in hand. A friend's familiar voice played back from among several work messages.
"Hello dear," she said, "I don't usually leave messages but I must leave this one." And she went on to ask me to hold her true, as her "spiritual mother," to the importance of prayer.
I listened to the message, thoughtful. She was asking me to hold her true? How unworthy I was of that request.
Later that afternoon another friend confided a lack in the same area and asked, "How about you?"
I felt distinctly uncomfortable but told the truth, "Not good," I confessed and told about my first friend's phone message and the text she had ended the message with, "Matthew 6:9," which we looked up then and found that it was the start of The Lord's Prayer.
Oh, Paul and I pray together before work, and I draw strength and comfort from that cherished time. But it's a different thing to just coming before God with no agenda but to quieten my heart and listen for his.
"Romans 12," said the friend, "that's what it's about," ruffling through the leaves of the Bible we had opened and reading the verses at the beginning of the chapter.
I said to my friend, "In order to do it I would need to get up at 5.00, how about you?"
"Six," my friend said.
We talked about the arrogance of thinking we could live without the fuel Jesus depended on for each day and every moment.
My alarm for tomorrow is set for five.
Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.