Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
- Start your day with God
- Renew your spirit
- Refocus your faith
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'I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.'
During the spring, as I was weeding a border in the Oratory garden, I became aware of the buzzing of a bee. Bees work continuously to collect pollen from flowering plants, one reason for ensuring gardens are filled with flowers from early spring into early winter. However, today was unusual for I consistently heard the buzzing of bees. Pausing to take a refreshment break, I stepped into the shed to remove my wellingtons and heard it. Later that day, I heard the buzzing again and eventually located a bee on some blossoms next door. I watched the methodical way in which it entered every flower to collect as much pollen as possible. I could see it building up around the bee’s legs. Returning to my task, I lifted a forkful of weed-laden earth and out fell a white-tailed bee, looking drowsy and disorientated. I gently picked it up with my gloved hand and placed it on a clear piece of ground. Jayne supplied a small mixture of sweetened water, believing it to be dehydrated from its ceaseless endeavours.
'A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.'
Working on the garden continually reminds me that everything in nature is connected in some way. The cuttings from the mower provide a useful mulch that nourishes the grass. They also draw down the birds. Each morning as I gaze out upon the lawn, I draw pleasure from its patterned finish, reflect on the work required to produce that finish, and recall the thoughts that God woke within me as I walked up and down, mowing. These thoughts are the fruit of my desire to encounter God. I assume I’d have missed them, had I neglected to create space for God in my day.
'But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind.'
Last autumn, when the leaves fell, bad weather stopped me clearing them, which meant a lot of work when spring arrived – eight hours of it. As I scarified the lawn, I reflected how this process matched my own walk with God. Looking out across the grass, you would never assume that a large part of the greenery was in fact damaging the lawn, preventing new growth, suffocating good grass and creating a spongy, water-retaining membrane which encouraged the garden to flood in heavy rain. I compared this with my own life. Apparently ordered and subject to God’s leadership, in fact mixed in with the good was an ever-increasing amount of debris, easy to ignore.
“No,” he replied, “you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.”
Last autumn and winter, Jayne and I couldn’t get out into the Oratory garden, because of the bad weather. We had extended a flower border over the summer and we knew that the weeds would fight back. When the good weather returned in March, our fears were confirmed.
'That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds.'
It has been a difficult and turbulent time for all of us over recent months. Many have spoken with me of their anxiety and fear. My Zoom account has been well used with many conversations and the opportunity to pray together. It’s a recognition that the familiarity of an ordered life provides some encouragement in disordered times.
'I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.'
Pressing the pause button to create a genuine space within which to reflect is of great benefit. I love the way scripture tells us that Jesus’ mother, Mary, from the annunciation onward, pondered all the unusual interruptions in her life in her heart (Luke 2:19).
'Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.'
What is your first response, when something goes wrong? Is it for you and your family, or for others? When we face crises of any sort, usually our first thought is to worry about our own welfare and that of those we love the most. It’s a reminder of the fractured world we live in, into which Jesus brought the message of others first.
'So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.'
Opportunity is the possibility of doing something. We need to know what it is, but unless we take that opportunity, nothing will happen. Often, we prefer to give away decision-making to others, especially when the decisions appear difficult.
'But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.'
My walk with God can be like a game of hide-and-seek. God never disguises or hides from us, of course: instead, feeling embarrassed about meeting God, I can choose, as Adam and Eve did, to hide. Or I ignore God until I come to my senses or so miss God’s warm embrace that I confess to whatever is keeping me from him.
But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
How often do I sleepwalk through my days, failing to look for, let alone seek my Lord and saviour, in the circumstances of my life? So often the very monotony of life’s rhythm drowns out both the voice and presence of God. Yet God is present with me in every moment of every day.