He came into the house, shirtless and barefoot, wearing only shorts. This was his usual attire. I never could get him to wear shoes, and very rarely a shirt. During the day he was either “doing school” or outside playing with his dogs, digging a hole the size of a house, and climbing trees. And he didn’t just climb. Ropes of various lengths hung from numerous limbs all throughout our enormous cashew tree. Chad spent hours everyday climbing and swinging for the sheer thrill of it. Just like Tarzan, he’d perch himself on a high limb, rope clutched in his hands, feet pressed together against the rope — and then he’d give himself a mighty heave and soar through the air, right up to the next limb where there dangled another rope. He grabbed, clenched, pushed, pulled and swung himself over and over again, his adolescent muscles working hard and relishing every moment. I would watch, then turn my head so as not to see the risks he was taking. He climbed and swung before lessons, during his breaks and in the afternoon. No one told him to. It was his activity of choice with his friends, and alone. It’s what he did when he had one minute to spare – or an hour.
On this day, he came in to take a break and with urgency in his voice he said, “Mom, I just have to figure out a work-out program. I should be doing something to build my strength. How can I get stronger?” He’d observed his older siblings doing push-ups, chin ups and various other strenuous exercise routines in preparation for their physical fitness tests. “Shouldn’t I be on a program like that, Mom?”
“My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.” Ps. 119:20
At all times. David’s soul was totally occupied with a longing to know God. And so should ours be.
But it seems such an effort. We don’t think we have time to commit to a program of knowing God. “Wouldn’t I need at least an hour every day to do the required Bible reading, pray certain prayers and then, on top of that, journal about what I’m ‘learning’? I don’t have time for that!” But, might you find time to read one verse? – a verse like the one above, for example. Take that verse into your thoughts. Write it down on a little card and poke it into your pocket and weave it into your day. This is your tree to climb and your rope to swing on today – when you have 30 seconds, one minute, or ten! Your morning devotions may just consist of finding that verse you heard on Sunday and writing it down, quick, before the baby wakes up.
Daily, perpetual devotions. Repeat the verse throughout the day. Try putting the emphasis on a different word each time. This exercises your thoughts, directing them to grab onto real strength for the soul found only in God’s word: “My soul breaks with longing for your judgements at all times.” Does it? Do I long to know God and his ways when I’m doing fine, as well as when I’m not? Ponder.
Pray it in confession while filling the dishwasher:
“Lord, my heart and soul are not occupied with longing for you. Part of me doubts that your decrees and judgements are truly worth longing for with that kind of intensity. I long for so many other things. Forgive me. Plant a deep longing in my soul to know You.”
Or: “My soul breaks with longing for your judgments at all times.” We need to ask ourselves, “Am I longing after the things God says, or am I more interested in what my friend or therapist, or inner desire tell me?”
Pray it in thanksgiving, aloud, while changing the baby:
“My Lord and my God, thank you for your judgments, your decrees. Thank you that they are all I need, and totally sufficient for all matters of the heart. Thank you for making it possible for me to know you.” and [“Sweetheart, your Heavenly Father wants you to know him! Imagine that!”]
Devotion: to pay homage to; to show by our actions that we are devoted to someone.
To whom or what do you pay homage? Our thoughts, meditations, words and actions throughout the day reveal the true object of our homage. That nice block of time that we call “daily devotions” is an important exercise of our homage. However, that scheduled spiritual work-out is meaningless unless our devotion moves out of our comfy corner and into the car, the classroom and the kitchen, and beyond. Our thoughts about and attitudes towards God throughout the day are the genuine devotion.
Take that rope and soar with it!