Because I post and share a lot of photos on social media, I often get asked how I find the time to photograph the things that I do. The answer is not all that complicated to give, but it can be pretty difficult to put into practice. It has a lot to do with priorities and what I call making days count rather than living life counting days.
It is far too easy to go through life counting days until whatever the next thing we are looking forward to will take place. And if we’re not doing that, we are counting the days until whatever we are in the midst of is over. While keeping track of when things will happen or when they will end is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem comes when our focus of counting days keeps us from living days that count.
It is not an easy journey, and for most people the step from counting days to days that count is precipitated by an event, or series of events, that cause them to see the uncertainty of life. And it’s not a decision that is made once and life is different from that point forward . . . no, for me at least, I have to decide often if I’m going to do something today that makes the day count. Because it’s a daily decision, and often multiple times in a day, it is not an easy path to walk. Many times the decision really rests on whether my choice for the day is about me or about someone else. I’ve found, that while it may not always look like a decision that would make the day count, basing the day’s choices on what helps others or makes them happy is much more likely to end up being a day that counts.
The photo below is from one of those days that count — it counts because it was spent with my family and brought joy to all of us. It’s also a good example of what it might take to make your days count. It was a last-minute, beautiful day opportunity and it required some sacrifices of time in getting work done that needed to be completed. But the point is that we didn’t focus on counting the hours of what needed to be done, but rather we focused on making the day count and dealing with the hours as needed. Yes, the climb up the dune to this overlook was difficult and the trip meant I would have to wake up very early the next morning to get work done, but the scene was spectacular and created a moment that helped to make the day count.
I pray that you would consider the people who are important to you, and even those that aren’t but maybe should be, and find ways to make your days together count rather than just spending your time counting days.
I enjoy taking photographs of items that are reflected in various bodies of water. As I’ve done this, I’ve discovered at least two key ingredients to a good (and accurate) reflection. One is the stillness of the water and the other is the purity of the water. In nature, both ingredients are highly variable even from one day to the next in the same body of water. The photo below is one I’ve taken many times and sometime the water is calm and pure giving a clear reflection of the spring house, and other times there is no reflection at all. The source of the water comes from a spring the little house is built over — thus a “spring house”. The water is pure and clear coming from the spring, but once out in the open it doesn’t always remain so.
I suppose the same is true in my efforts to accurately reflect Christ so that He is seen when others observe me. The source, Christ, is unchanging in its purity and clarity so any imperfection in the reflection has to come from me. My ability to be still and know Him as God will be a determining factor in how well He is reflected in my life. The purity I live my life with will either help people see Jesus in me or cloud their view of Him. As I spend time at the well of Living Water and allow His Spirit and His Word to continually wash over me, I find that the turmoil and impurity of life no longer gets in the way of others seeing who resides within.
I pray that you and I would desire our lives to accurately reflect Jesus. As we live out that desire, I pray that we would be both still and cleansed so we would not become a distraction to the reflection of Christ others should see in us.
Today I had the opportunity to lead another neighborhood prayer walk as we asked God to make Himself known and to pour out His blessing upon the community. I enjoy leading prayer walks because it gives me the opportunity to teach about developing a lifestyle of prayer in a practical context.
The context behind a prayer walk is really not that complicated — you walk and you pray. Praying on-site in a neighborhood, workplace, school, or anywhere else can help you learn to pray more effectively as you pay attention to what is really going on. Yes, I can pray for a neighborhood from anywhere, but when I walk the sidewalks and observe with my eyes, ears, heart, spirit, emotions, and anything else available to me, I often pray about things that I would never otherwise even think about.
For me, prayer walking is a practice that helps me apply God’s command to “pray without ceasing.” When I make a deliberate effort to pray, I find that I am constantly looking for things to pray about that would be meaningful in my conversations with God. I might notice a home health care van parked in front of a house and pray for the person needing extra care. I walk past an auto body shop and pray for those whose lives have been impacted in situations represented by the assortment of wrecked vehicles waiting to be repaired. I walk by a park and pray for the families and children who will come and play. I walk past a school and pray for the safety of all who are there each day. And the list goes on . . . it seems that each house or property has something to say that would lead me to pray in a specific way. Yet even in the specific prayers, I keep in mind the greater context that God would bless the neighborhood in ways that would make Himself known.
Tonight’s prayer walk was the first I had focused on the neighborhood I was in. Depending on time available, my first prayer walk in a neighborhood is usually a perimeter walk as I surround an area with prayer. Follow-up walks would then work my way up and down each street, asking God to help me notice the things I ought to see.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not writing this to try to say, “Look what I did!” No, I’m writing this in an attempt to say to you who are reading, “Look what you could do!”
I write a weekly prayer guide that I publish online and send out via email. Each week I put together a series of daily prayer points that cover different aspects of a topic. This week’s focus is about some things the Bible says we ought to hold on to. The emphasis for today is to hold on to instruction.
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)
Perhaps you live by the old adage, “When all else fails, read the instructions.” For many, that seems to be a common approach to life. It is not until things become difficult, or go very wrong, that we stop long enough to check on how we were supposed to be living. God tells us that we ought to hold on to instruction . . . but not just any instruction, His instructions! When we choose to follow the instructions of God’s Word, we find that there are some difficulties that we are able to avoid and others that we become equipped to endure because of the life we obtain in Christ. While following God’s instructions doesn’t exempt us from the troubles of life, doing so gives us a life that can see beyond the troubles to a greater hope and promise.
My prayer is that you and I would find a life in Christ that is worth holding on to. I pray that we would not take the instructions of scripture lightly, but that we would cling to them as the true source of life.
After two years and nearly three months of writing a daily page, I’ve decided it is time for a break. I’m not sure how long the break will be and I’m not sure if I will go back to a daily page when the break is over, but it just feels like this current writing adventure needs a break. I do suspect I will still write and post from time to time but it will be based on having something to write rather than simply on it being another day. For those who have followed these daily blogs, thank you for the encouragement!
Given that I enjoy taking photos of the moon, it was probably fitting that there was a full moon shining brightly overhead as I took trash out tonight.
Some thoughts, lessons, and/or reflections from the day:
It felt like a very short night as I was up for a time during the night as another seizure took hold of my daughter.
Even with the interrupted night, I found myself awake shortly before the alarm clock was due to go off. While continued sleep would have felt nice, work doesn’t get done by itself so I headed that way and went about the morning cleaning and building prep as I prayed for my daughter.
The day felt long as my eyes were heavy from a lack of sleep, but as I took care of the building I also worked on the sermon for Sunday and worked ahead on the prayer guide for the following week.
The prayer guide that will go out on Easter Sunday is about new life but the one I worked on today for the following week is about being renewed.
I suppose the topic was helped along by my weariness today, but it seemed like a good follow-up as God not only wants to give us new life, He also wants to renew us in the times when we become weary.
It was an interesting combination to be working on a sermon about being fully alive and a prayer guide about being renewed, but I think God’s ability to renew us each day is a part of what makes being fully alive even possible.
At various times today I’ve found myself thinking about the difference between being needed and being wanted. I’m afraid there are many times when people put a lot of effort into trying to be needed because they don’t believe they will ever be wanted.
I am thankful for a God who is not in need of anything, including you and I, but wants us with such a passion that He not only made a way through Jesus to give us new life, He promises to renew us as we daily put our hope in Him.
Today’s photo is from yesterday as I didn’t take any new ones today. It made me think of God’s promise that “they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and mount up on wings as eagles.”