Sunday, June 16, 2013

What We Miss

"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
I Peter 1:16

In order to make sure I allow sufficient daily time for God,
I have made it a practice to try to pray for a certain amount of time 
each morning before I start the day.

It just works out better for me this way,
and my day tends to go so much better...smoother...and joy-filled....
regardless of what is happening.

I mark the time I begin praying,
and I do my utmost to make sure I don't leave my place of prayer...
until a particular amount of time has lapsed.

This morning, was no different.
I prayed and poured out my heart to Him Who gives me strength.
I told Him all that was on my mind,
felt His comfort throughout my praising and asking and petitioning, 
and so enjoyed our time together.
After praying for a good while, I looked at the clock to see how long it had been.

For some reason, when I looked, I thought I still had 10 minutes left to go.
I don't know what I was thinking, but wanting to be sure I allowed sufficient time,
I lingered....
there at His feet....
in His sweet presence....
at the throne.

I was not willing to leave.

To tell you the truth, I made a vow....a long time ago.

Let me explain.

Before my vow, I confess to you that my prayer life was shamefully sporadic.
If I had time, I prayed.
If I felt like it, I prayed.
If I didn't...well, I just didn't.
My malnourished spiritual life was proof.
I was spiritually starving to death.
I didn't have on hand what I needed, when hard trials came.
I was distanced from God....way farther than I should have been.

I was His child.
I professed His name.
But, my prayer life was absolutely lacking and no where near the top of my priority list.
Everything in my life suffered because of it.

I realized what was happening.
I didn't like it.
Because, deep in my heart, my utmost desire is to be the person God wants me to be.
To please Him.
To serve Him.
To live a thriving, successful, God-saturated holy life.

I know how prone to wander I am.
My favorite song in the world is, 
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing",
and my favorite version of it is by Fernando Ortega.
(You can hear it automatically, as the first song on the playlist,
if your speakers are on when you visit the Homespun Devotions website.)

In one of the verses, it says, 
"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, 
Oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."

I knew vows to God were serious business.
So, in order to insure I would take this seriously,
I took the plunge.

I promised God I would spend a certain amount of minutes,
every day of my life, from that day forward,
in prayer.

I felt the solemnity of my words.
I sensed the gravity.
But, that is how badly I wanted to live a pleasing-to-God, Christian life,
so I did it.

And I meant it.

That was a long time ago.

That vow has served as a safe guard for me.
A guard rail, of sorts.
To keep me dedicated.
To make sure I stay on the straight and narrow
and keep my relationship with God current.

Over time, He has led me to increase the number of minutes....
since the time of my original vow.
At His prompting, I have done that.

For some reason, this morning, I miscalculated how long I had been praying,
when I looked at the time.

As soon as I re-closed my eyelids,
intent on praying some more,
something very important happened.
The windows of Heaven came wide open.

The blessings started pouring down....
upon my thirsty soul.
God began to do the speaking.
He began to tell me things....
through the channels of my heart...and mind.
He opened His me.
It was precious...beyond any earthly thing.
I truly and intently listened.
In His words, I found the answer to something I have been struggling to figure out.
He just told me.
Right there.
Low and quiet....lingering before His still, small voice.

He gave me real answers...real was real deep.
I would never have thought of any of it....on my own.
I would never had heard His voice...had I left my place of prayer....
before He had a chance to speak.

After some period of time, it hit me that I had miscalculated.
The moment I had looked at the clock was actually,
to the very minute,
the exact fulfillment of my promised daily time with God.
If I had left off praying, at that very instant,
my vow would have been kept,
and I would have done what I promised Him I would do....
every, single day.
Duty fulfilled....and off to start my day....
I would have been completely justified.

But, then it hit me like a ton of bricks....
"If you had left, just look what you would have missed!"
I would never have heard God's thoughts.
I wouldn't have received the answers I crave.
I wouldn't have experienced that beyond-sweet, precious, Heavenly communion.....
right there...alone....with Him.

I believe God was absolutely making a point to me.
He wanted this to happen.

I began to wonder,
"What else have I missed?"
When I look at the clock, feel good about having kept my promise,
and rush off to start the day.

What have you?

It kind of reminds me of tithes.....and offerings.

A tithe is the required amount.
An offering is anything over and beyond that.

Through blessed experiences,
we have learned firsthand that God absolutely rewards devoted, consistent, faithful tithing.
And, in times that we have gone the extra mile and given beyond the mandatory tithe,
the offering to God has always been well worth the sacrifice.
(Malachi 3:8-12)

Mimmie always said, "You can't outgive God."
It's can't.
Not that we should give in order to receive.
That sort of misses the whole point.
But, going the extra mile definitely reaps a fruitful harvest.

Just like it did this morning when I inadvertently took
my "mandatory" prayer time into over-time.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

But, how many other times have I done just that,
and missed it for the world?
Missed it...because the enemy convinced me that laundry had to be folded...that very instant.
Missed it...because the desire to do other things overpowered my passion for prayer.
Missed it...because during prayer, I remembered an important phone call that needed to be made.
Is any communication more important?
Than hearing the voice of God?

I've learned to identify and prepare for diversions that try to sabotage my time alone with God.
I now keep a pad of paper and a pen on the table right next to my prayer chair.
This way, if I remember something important,
I can transfer the responsibility from my brain to the paper...
and remember to do it after God and I are finished talking.

I grew tired of putting God off.
I wearied of pushing Him to the back burner.
Because when I have done that, I have been miserable....
had a big, black, foreboding cloud that hung over my head
and followed me around all day long...
constantly reminding me that I had not done what mattered most.

When it comes to hearing things God wants to say to me,
I've learned...that I don't want to miss another thing.
Sometimes, it just takes a little longer...just a bit more time.
When He speaks, it is worth it all.

On my list of 1,000 gifts for this week...
#46.  My miscalculation of time.
#47.  Every second with the ones I love most
#48.  Promises kept
#49.  God's voice
#50.  Safekeeping.
#51.  Healing.
#52.  God's amazing grace.
#53.  Open spiritual eyes.
#54.  Rain.
#55.  God's escape routes.
#56.  Sweet release from spiritual bondage.
#57.  Time.
#58.  Fresh, new inspiration.
#59.  Lifted clouds.
#60.  Photo opportunities.
#61.  Guard rails.

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