Hi and happy Friday!
Russ and I took a trip to northern Kentucky this week. We visited the Creation Museum and Ark and did some side trips to Cincinnati and LaGrange. It was nice to move at a slower pace and with the week day/Fall visit, there were not big crowds.
On Monday I plan to share a bit on the blog about the trip for those who have been thinking of going.
Today I just want to share a thought gleaned from last week’s sermon. We are in the midst of a series called “Rule of Life: Spiritual Practices for Today” and if you know me at all, you know it is one I am embracing.
The series has been building on practices employed by those in the early stages of church history who recognized that it is possible to just go through the motions and be a nominal Christian. In fact it is so easy, it is rather scary.
So they developed “practices” and the part of this that is a rule has nothing to do with following rules but rather refers to the line that is used in vineyards to support the grape vines, keeping the fruit up off the ground so it grow and flourish. The “rule” was a line of measure for these plants to be supported and to be able to flourish.
The first week was on Scripture and reading it to be transformed rather than informed. Our exercise was to read a Psalm each day and actually read it several times and then meditate on a portion throughout the day.
The second week we were encouraged to take time to be outside in God’s creation each day. God has told us His creation speaks of Him and as we remove distractions and really see the beauty of the created world, we draw closer to Him.
Last week, Brian talked to us about centered prayer. He said this was a practice where a small phrase or line from Scripture would be repeated as one moves throughout the day. Near the end of the sermon, he acknowledged that this may seem an antiquated view of training the mind and then he pulled out his phone and did a very good impression of me and maybe you, scrolling through Instagram and meditation on these thoughts…”Better than me. Prettier than me. More pulled together than me. Nicer house than me. Cooler vacations than me. Smarter than me. More talented than me.”
I took it to heart and attempted to minimize my screen time while practicing a phrase that I prayerfully was led to as I read Scripture.
My centered prayer was simply:
“Abide in His Shelter; Rest in His Shadow”
As I would roll those words through my mind, I began to picture a safe and loving home where I was nourished and strengthened and encouraged. Not a home to stay in but a home from which I go forth out into the world and then return to at day’s end. I also imagined a large tree that provided shade in the yard of this home and when I was tired, I could just sit in that shade and I felt refreshed and restored.
Last night on the news I heard a report about how new gurus of “mindfulness” are charging thousands of dollars to teach people how to fight anxiety through mindfulness exercises. Since the side affects of drugs to fight anxiety can be covered by insurance yet also have potential side effects, there is a push for insurance to cover these instructional guides.
I do not doubt that these work. I understand that there are circumstances where deep help is needed for someone who struggles with crippling anxiety. I believe firmly in the need at times for counseling and I believe there is sometimes the need for medication to help where our body needs healing mentally, physically and emotionally.
But I also wonder if perhaps we might also try what God prescribed for us. Multiple times we are told in Scripture to not be anxious. We are given prayer, meditation, trust as options to fight what our natural tendencies are. God is not surprised by our anxiety.
Prayerfully seeking what God wants us to meditate on and then practicing the discipline of centering our mind and hearts and spirits on His words to us are powerful.
May God bless you as you seek wholeness and healing.