Archive for January, 2012

24/7: 7am – Glorified Commute

Posted: January 25, 2012 by clairer in Uncategorized

You see all different types on the metro – the white-collared and blue-collared workers, the grandparents and the students, newspaper readers and kindle users, veteran commuters and “newbie” tourists. People come from different backgrounds and are headed toward different destinations…many with their iPods in and their phones out – engaged in their own little world. But yesterday, one man wasn’t…

Early in the morning, as I found a seat in the already-packed metro, I sat across the aisle from an older, heavy-set woman. She didn’t look destitute, but she certainly didn’t seem terribly “high-class.” She kept on talking to the lady behind her (whom she obviously didn’t personally know) about how she had fallen near the escalators and how worried she was about a scrape. Maybe it’s just a pet-peeve of mine, but personally, I tend to have little patience with random people on the metro talking to me – especially about their personal lives. Honestly, I felt worse for the woman having to listen than the woman who had supposedly fallen.

When we arrived at our first stop, a middle-aged military officer in full camouflage boarded and joined the “listening” woman in her seat. I felt bad for him…wondering if he knew what he had gotten himself into. Sure enough, right after he sat down, the woman started telling him how she had fallen and how she was worried she wouldn’t make it to work. I expected him to ignore her or at the very least gently subdue her and put her off. However, to my surprise, the man responded, not with annoyance, but with genuine sympathy and respect toward the woman. He listened to her, addresser her as “ma’am,” and to my complete surprise, promised to make sure she got to work. Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, the man got off at the woman’s stop (which was clearly not his own), took her by the arm, and, presumably, guided her to her place of work.

I found this brief encounter to be so convicting. In the city, I am surrounded by a culture of self-advancement and self-absorption that is so easy to be sucked into. When I’m on the metro, I watch people scramble for seats instead of deferring to the person next to them. They put in their earbuds and seem to forget about the world around them. On the escalators and on the street, people quickly walk to their offices without giving a second thought or glance to the homeless people or even to the other businessmen and women they are passing by. And yet, for just one morning, a man put aside what was easy and convenient for himself. He went out of his way to love his neighbor and to count someone else as more significant than himself.

Ever since I started my internship, I’ve been thinking about 24/7 – about how I could be glorifying God throughout my day, and even at 7am on my daily commute. This man gave me my answer: by being considerate of others and by not falling prey to the self-absorption around me. On some days, that might mean giving up my seat. On others, it might mean letting someone else board the crowded car before I do. On some other days, it might simply mean smiling and greeting someone, or being a listening ear…even if I’m tired and bored. As Christians, we are not called to be self-absorbed commuters. We are called to be different – to lay down our lives for our neighbors. And that starts with even the smallest areas of life…like riding the metro.

24/7: Learning to Glorify God All Day, Every Day (Series Introduction)
24/7: 6am — Wait in Expectation (24/7 Part I)

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24/7: 6am — Wait in Expectation

Posted: January 12, 2012 by clairer in 24/7, Prayer

Maybe it’s just me, but the world seems so much bleaker at 6am. It’s usually dark outside — sometimes cold and rainy — and I’m often sleepy and drowsy with a day of work and classes ahead of me. Every once in awhile — like on my birthday or Christmas — I wake up with an excited sense of anticipation for the events of the day ahead; but more frequently, I only anticipate the daily routine of homework and classes. Nothing particularly exciting…nothing particularly special…

When I get up in the morning and start to pray, my prayers can fall into a usual routine too. “Heavenly Father, give me strength to make it through today, bless my friends and my family, and help me to grow to be more like You.” Of course, my prayers vary from time to time. If I have a test that day, I might pray that God will help me to do well; or, if one of my friends is sick, I might ask for healing. However, the point is, often times praying — and my prayers themselves — can become a part of my dry, everyday, non-exciting routine. But…does this really glorify God?

In some ways, we could say that yes, it does. Simply by virtue of praying, I am glorifying God by humbly expressing my dependence on Him and my belief that He can both hear me and provide for me. By both expressing my helplessness and by acknowledging who God is, I am already glorifying Him.

However, I think I too often stop short of glorifying God to the extent that I can through my prayers. By allowing my prayer time and my prayers to become dry and routine, I fundamentally reduce God’s glory in my own eyes and deny myself the oportunity to see God’s power at work in my life and in the lives of those around me.

See, routine prayers say a lot about what I believe. As Matthew 12:34 says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” First, routine prayers often tend to be very general. It’s as though I believe God is either uninterested in the specifics of my life or He isn’t able to handle anything more than the basics of my life. It is almost as if these prayers need to help God out. As long as I pray broadly, God will be able to answer that prayer in some way or form. It’s almost a safety net to keep me from being disappointed by an distant or weak God. But we don’t serve a weak God, and to pray in such a way makes God small in our eyes.

Instead, we should let the specificity of our prayers be a testament to the awesome power and ability of our God to do anything and everything. Instead of praying simply for spiritual growth, pray for specific manifestations of grace — increased patience, service, and sensitivity. Instead of just praying for strength for the day, pray for specific parts of the day — wisdom and grace for certain conversations, perseverance and productivity for papers, safety for travels. By doing this, we glorify God by acknowledging His greatness.

Praying specifically and earnestly glorifies God in another way too: by opening our eyes to answered prayers. The danger of routine praying is the same as waking up to the routine day I described earlier — you don’t expect anything new or exciting to happen. But this is fundamentally different from the way that David prayed in Psalm 5. In this Psalm, David says, “In the morning, I lay my request before God and wait in expectation.” David doesn’t lay his request before God and then move on with the rest of his day completely forgetting what he prayed about that morning. He waits in expectation — anticipating answer to prayer, looking for them throughout the day.

By praying specifically, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to see God at work. Sure, it’s neat when we pray every day that God would direct our steps in our life and then one day we get the opportunity to start a new job. But doesn’t it fill you with so much more  awe when you are specifically asking God about whether you should pursue an internship for the next semester and then that very day an email comes asking you to apply for an internship at an organization? It is so obviously a work of God and an answer to prayer. It causes us to praise and thank God because we specifically see God’s hand at work. It builds our faith for future prayers. All these things glorify God.

So, although prayer in and of itself glorifies God, it holds the potential to do so much more than we often let it. Our prayers can be so much greater, more exciting, more fulfilling, and more God glorifying if we simply take the time to pray genuinely  and specifically, and then wait in expectation.

24/7: Learning to Glorify God All Day, Every Day (Series Introduction)

24/7: Learning to Glorify God All Day, Every Day

Posted: January 12, 2012 by clairer in 24/7

The Westminster Catechism states that the purpose of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:31 commands us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Of course, that sounds great and is definitely a goal we want to pursue. But, I know in my own life, this is something that seems good in theory, but when I get into my day — between classes and commutes, lectures and lines in the cafeteria, sports and socializing — I’m not always sure what it looks like to glorify God through everything that I do.

That is what this series is going to explore. The Bible tells us that our calling as Christians is to glorify God, but this series will explore how we can do that practically hour to hour and day by day…24/7 living for Him.

Hungry for Hope

Posted: January 2, 2012 by clairer in Bible, Hope

I always cringe a bit when I come across verses in Psalms like Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he mediates day and night.” Love of, and devotion to, God’s word is a consistent theme in Psalms. I feel a bit guilty when I read these verses because, while I read my Bible pretty consistently, my love of Scripture is nowhere near this level of passion. I always wonder how David and the other psalmists did it…how could they generate such excitement for the Scriptures — the law no less! — to be meditating on it day and night? Part of it definitely came from a genuine love for God and a desire to know Him better. But I think there was something else driving their passion as well. The psalms are songs of desperation as much as they are songs of praise. The psalmists often were starving…not physically, but they were hungry for hope.

When God created mankind, He did some amazing things with the way the human body works. One of those things was He developed self-preservation instincts in the human brain. Because of this, when people are literally starving, the thing that dominates their waking and sleeping thoughts is food and how to find food. Psychologically, these thoughts haunt them until their hunger is satisfied.

I think it works the same way with hope. When people are desperate and spiritually needy, the search for hope and the source of hope dominates their thinking. For those who have no source of hope, this search is, well…hopeless, and leads them to despair as they feel the resounding emptiness of the hope that the world offers. But for Christians, being hungry for hope leads us to the one place we know we can find it: the Scriptures.

The Scriptures remind those who have lost their hope that there is a God who cares for His children, who works things for their good, who can work miracles, who has preserved His people for generations, and who has solved our greatest problem. This is what drives the psalmists, in the same way that a person hungry for food “meditates” on food day and night, so too do those who are hungry for hope.

I know in my life, the times that I have felt the most needy have likewise been the times of the greatest spiritual growth in my life because I have been driven to study and “dwell” in the Scriptures. This realization has caused me to begin a new (intense) Bible reading plan to start this new year. If I want hope in the year ahead, I want to cultivate a passion for my source of hope…God’s Word.

For other ideas of Bible reading plans, an excellent helpful article can be found here