Page 212 was a Monday, so it began with a building walk-through to make sure it was ready for the day. I straightened up some things from yesterday then restocked the toilet paper and paper towel in the bathrooms before settling in with God for my Monday morning prayer guide writing routine. This morning was a good example of why it is important to spend time with God in prayer and listening — especially when I direct a prayer-based ministry. Throughout the weekend, the idea of affirmation had been on my mind and I thought that is the direction I would take in the prayer guide I would write this morning. However, as I spent time in prayer and study, it became clear that affirmation was a word meant for me but was not the direction for this prayer guide.
What did eventually settle in my mind was the topic of living with patience. I know, we often talk about how dangerous it is to pray for patience because it is through the testing of our patience that it grows. But the good news is that not only does God instruct us to live with patience, He equips us to do so by the power of His Spirit within us. As I spent the morning with God writing the prayer guide, I realized that even the most patient of us often struggle with the practice of waiting. I often tell people that if they want to see just how impatient we are as a culture, just wait one second at a traffic light after it turns from red to green and see, or hear, what happens. But I think the real test is when the person in front of you doesn’t move immediately when the light changes to green — how do you feel and respond?
Once the prayer guide was written, I took the time to format and schedule it to be sent out Sunday in both my weekly email and on my web site. I’ve had several weeks when I’ve run out of time on Monday and then forgot about it until late in the week and found myself finishing it up on Saturday morning so it was good to get it done today. While I was in the writing/study mode, I turned my attention to considering what God would have me preach at the North Wayne Mennonite Church on Sunday. I thought that my last time there was the end of a “Living as the Lord’s Servant” series I had been preaching, but in my prayer and listening time this morning I think I’ve settled on at least a couple more sermons that will be in the series.
I finished out the workday putting together some ideas, promotional material, and a tentative schedule for what I am calling Growing Strong Retreats. These will be prayer-based retreats filled with teaching and practice designed to help us grow strong in the Lord. I am currently working on dates and locations for Fall 2017 and Spring and Fall 2018 retreats which will be weekend retreats that include housing, meals, materials, and a strong dose of teaching and practice of prayer principles. The Growing Strong Retreats will also be designed so that churches, camps, campus ministry groups, and other interested groups could host it at a their location according to their need and schedule with Impact Prayer Ministry providing the teaching and materials for the retreat. For more information, check out the Growing Strong Retreats page on my website: https://impactprayerministry.wordpress.com/growing-strong-retreats/.
By late afternoon it was time to finish up the workday and stop for a late lunch on my way home. At home I did some more work on the retreat plans, spent some time resting, and went outside to take some photos before dinner. Today’s photo is one I took as I was waiting on the hummingbirds to show up at the feeder. If I had to title it, I would call it “Living in the Shadows”. From where I was standing, the rose blossoms were beautiful but partially hidden by the leaves of the rosebush. With the hummingbird feeder above them, it is easy to completely miss the fact that the roses are beginning to blossom. But even in the shadows of the leaves and feeder, they bloom and share their great beauty because that is what they are created to do. That is a difficult lesson for many humans, including myself, to learn. Even when it feels like we are living in the shadows; if we’re where we’re supposed to be, God has created us to blossom and share His beauty right where we are.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Many “small” tasks only seem small until they aren’t done. You probably don’t give a lot of thought about who stocks the toilet paper in a publicly used bathroom unless you go into a stall that doesn’t have any when you need it.
- Even when you practice listening to God, it is important to understand through your prayer time the purpose of what you hear.
- Many times God communicates through His Word and His Spirit things which are meant to be shared to encourage others but sometimes His primary purpose is to encourage us.
- Even when you think you know what God wants you to do, it is a good and important idea to continue listening.
- Being patient is difficult but it is also part of the fruit of God’s Spirit so we don’t have to be patient in our own strength and ability.
- Just because we think something is finished doesn’t mean God thinks it is. And just because we think something should continue doesn’t mean God thinks it should.
- God wants us to grow strong as we learn to more fully rely on Him through a lifestyle of prayer.
- Living in the shadows can be comforting for some of us but we are still expected to shine and bloom if that is where we find ourselves.