Page 338 was back to the weekday routine after a restful weekend with my family. It was a quiet start to the morning in my mind as there was no mental soundtrack playing today. The first part of my morning was spent finishing the writing of yesterday’s page and taking care of the cleaning and building prep to start the week. Once the building was ready and the trash taken out, I settled in for a morning with God as I worked on the prayer guide for next week. It didn’t take long to settle on the topic of peace as it fits into the second week of Advent for those of my readers who follow a traditional advent focus and it is a great topic to pray about even for those that don’t follow an advent tradition.
As I prayed and wrote the introduction to the prayer guide, I thought about the vast difference between the peace that is pursued by those in the world and the peace that is found in a relationship with Jesus. The world tends to define peace as the absence of conflict while Jesus offers to give us His peace in the midst of our troubles. The rest of the morning had a few breaks to take care of some small things as the came up, but overall it was spent writing the daily points of the prayer guide. As I write today’s page I realize that the workday got away from me and I haven’t yet formatted and scheduled the prayer guide to go out next week — I’ll have to remember to do that tomorrow.
The distraction that kept me from doing the scheduling of the prayer guide for my website and email was work on plans for a New Year’s Eve prayer vigil that I’ll call “Watch and Pray”. I was able to confirm this morning that I’ll be preaching at Deer Run for their morning service on New Year’s Eve so I’ll develop that sermon as a lead-in to a time of prayer to close out the year. Participants will be encouraged to come to the building sometime between 1 PM and 11 PM on December 31 and spend at least an hour praying at various prayer stations that will be set up. The prayer vigil will conclude with a group gathering at 11:30 PM where we will pray out the old year and pray in the new one.
With an early start to the day, my workday was done by mid-afternoon and I stopped for lunch on the way home. Once home I spent a little time relaxing and unwinding before we decided to head to Lake Michigan to see what we could photograph. There were gale warnings out and a fairly strong wind, so we were hoping for some big waves to be crashing over the lighthouse and perhaps a break in the cloud cover in time for a sunset. When we arrived in St Joseph, Michigan, the lake was fairly calm and the clouds were as thick as they had been most of the day. The wind was still strong but it was coming from a direction that wasn’t adding to the wave height. One of the goals, since there were no significant waves, was to work on extended exposure night shots. So we each set up our camera and tripod and began photographing the lighthouses as darkness fell for the night. About half an hour after the time the sun would have set, a break appeared in the clouds above the horizon and some faint sunset color began to appear. Today’s photo is a capture of that scene as I set the shutter speed to remain open for 30 seconds. That long of an exposure made sure all the lights were lit in the lighthouses and smoothed out what waves there were so the reflections of the lights could be seen across the water. Even though the scenes weren’t what we were expecting, I learned a lot that will hopefully improve future photos even beyond what was taken tonight.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Mental soundtracks that draw me near to God are good; but so are the times of quietness that I spend with Him.
- Preparing for the arrival of Christ is a good thing no matter what we may call the plan of doing so.
- While it is good to resolve conflict as far as it depends on you; if peace depends on there being no conflict, you will never fully find it.
- Sometimes we forget that Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Or if we don’t forget, we at least pretend He didn’t say it.
- The peace that God wants to fill us with is part of the fruit of His Spirit and it can be present within us even in the midst of trouble.
- “Watch and Pray” is the instruction Jesus gave to His disciples the night He was arrested . . . it is also a good set of instructions for us to put into practice.
- Long-exposure photos require that the camera remains still for the entire time as it takes in whatever light is present.
- Watching and praying is a lot like the long-exposure shots as we become still before God in order to take in whatever light is present.