I love Psalm 119:132-133; it teaches me a great way to pray to the Lord today. The writer presents to God three requests: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
Be gracious to me.
Keep me steady.
Free me from the sin wanting to entangle me.
I notice the little phrase “as is your way.” The writer announces to himself and to God that he knows God will do these things because it is His nature and manner to do so. God turns to us and is gracious to us. He cannot help it. It is who He is.
I send the words to my family and pray this for my daughters. I text a few friends the simplicity and power of this prayer. What more would we need?
As I study Psalm 119, I’m drawn to verse 17 and this request: Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. I think about the need to experience God’s goodness and bounty in order to continue living obediently to God. As I read this verse, I think of someone saying to God, “Please make this a little easier for me! Please make it feel good to live and follow you!”
It’s not a bad prayer. It’s OK to ask God for the ability to see how He is “dealing bountifully” with you in order to sustain your walk with Him.
I’m challenging myself to read Psalm 119 in the morning and in the evening; I’m trying to commit the whole thing to memory! If you’d like to read Psalm 119 every day in September, let’s do it together. I’ve heard Charles Spurgeon recommended that everyone memorize this psalm, and it’s also said that William Wilberforce quoted this psalm to himself every day as he walked. Can you imagine having so much wisdom stored up in your heart?
My friend reminded me this morning of a beautiful principle of living with flair: thriving in poor conditions. She showed me a picture of her morning glories that “only bloom when not well-watered or fertilized.” I immediately remembered my orchids which seem to “thrive on neglect.” I also thought of my daughter’s wise words about having sad days and how “some plants grow best in shade.”
If we’re in a hard place and one where we feel deprived of what seems logical that we might need, perhaps it’s because God knows how we’ll best grow. In order to bloom, we might just need a particular form of deprivation. I always think this happens, like Paul says, so we might fully rely on God and not ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9). It seems unloving and counterintuitive, but I’m learning to trust the Master Gardener.
If you need a great idea for dinner, don’t forget the the simplicity of stuffing pita bread will all sorts of fillings. I love how everyone can customize their pita. We lay out a platter of sliced tomato, cucumber, lettuce, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and goat cheese, red onion, assorted olives, and tzatziki sauce. For meat fillings, you could cook lamb, beef, or chicken in a pan with lemon, garlic, and rosemary for a delicious addition.
The neighbors and I love to share our meal plans for the week to swap ideas and learn from one another. I’m excited this week for Greek Night most of all.
Today I learned about the best time of day to make decisions about your day. It’s in the morning (for most of us!)
In the morning, when you feel great (perhaps after your coffee, Bible reading time, journaling, showering), plan out your day. Choose what you’ll eat in advance. Decide when to exercise. Choose what to say yes or no to. Decide your dinner plan. Schedule out your goals for the day. Decide when you’ll write and for how long.
Then, work your plan.
I learned that we often experience decision fatigue even by 10:00 AM. In the moment, we’ll make choices we might not have made in a relaxed state. In the moment, we’ll tell ourselves not to exercise, not to eat the better option, or not to attend an event we planned on attending. We’ll always revert to a default state of the easy, the path of least resistance, and the thing with immediate reward.
At least that’s what I’m learning. So I’m working on planning the work and then working the plan. I’m working on deciding early–when I feel good–and minimizing decision fatigue later.
Lately, my husband and I have been asking God to “send the ravens.” It’s also a phrase I’m using with some of my friends who are going through a difficult time. Of course, the ravens refer to a moment in 1 Kings 17:2-6 when Elijah must hide in the Kerith Ravine. I imagine his loneliness and hunger. I imagine his fear of Ahab. The Kerith Ravine represents in my mind a place of suffering, sadness, loneliness, or even confusion. But God sends the ravens.
We read this:
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Sometimes I like to picture the scene in my mind. God didn’t need to send the ravens. We know from the book of Exodus that God can make meat and bread just appear without a delivery vehicle. But here, God uses birds. It seems comforting, delightful, and supernatural. God sends the ravens. The ravens show us God’s care for us, His provision, and His comfort. God commanded; the ravens flew.
When we ask God to “send the ravens” we ask for special care during our time of need. We ask for visible, joyful signs of His marvelous provision to comfort us and meet our needs. And we report back when we have seen the ravens.
Send the ravens!
As we prepare for autumn in the garden, we decided to go ahead and clean up the carrot garden. Here is our early harvest. If we waited to harvest in the fall, we’d have much bigger carrots! There’s always next year! I love the secret growth of carrots!
I love the part of Psalm 119 where the priest writes, “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.”
I note several things. First, we might enjoy this image of God on our side as Helper as we go about our days. How powerful! How comforting! Second, when we feel fear, we can remember this image of God “on our side.” It makes me think of having a moment-by-moment advocate. Finally, I think about letting God live out this comfort through me to other people. Might I act as a helper to others? Might I help others in distress and lead them to God’s answer?
As we start the day, we can think of this image of God on our side.
I’m learning more and more about how God’s power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I would like the power of Christ to rest on us. Perhaps it helps to list out the weaknesses. We’re normally taught to live out of our strengths, to celebrate them, to develop them. I’ve done this all my life. But what if I think about all I cannot do? What if I think about all the ways I’m bringing weakness to the table?
I don’t know how to create authentic community apart from the spirit of God. I don’t know how to bear fruit without abiding. I don’t know how to love people as they need to be loved. I don’t know how to parent adult children. I don’t know how to be myself sometimes. I don’t know how to offer wisdom in committee meetings. I don’t know how to organize my day. Oh, God, I need you in all these weaknesses!