Since I have entered this new season of life with our kiddos all in school all day long, I felt a pressing upon my heart to be very intentional in how I spend the moments. To be devoted to my family is a natural thing for me, but to prepare for time with them, as we are apart, for the time we will have together, is a bit more complicated. It is the overspill of life that I must attend to, so that when we are together, I am focused and present with them.
And that overspill for me includes cleaning the house–praying in each of their rooms, preparing a menu and meals–breakfast and supper together during the week and all through the weekend, adding special touches around the house–delighting in the seasons and times and finally–most importantly–preparing myself.
What do I mean by preparing myself? I’m talking about my anxieties and fears, my physical self, my time with the Lord and just re-remembering who I was (who I am) before I had four children. That person has gone through a gamut of change, but truthfully? I like who I am. I enjoy being alone–me and the Lord. Sometimes, I go out and spend time with others–sharpeners of my faith and friends of my heart. But often, it is just me.
So when I find that life begins to pile up–and it will…and it does–I drive to a nearby park and go for a walk. I pray there–for myself, my family, friends and folks going through hard times, our community, country and the world. I speak aloud to God–and listen in my heart for His replies. I read my Bible–a two-way conversation right there, just me and my Lord. I praise Him there–thanking Him for the yellow leaves that sparkle and glimmer in the sun, for the ducks I saw fly and land on the water, for the time set apart and for timing it, so that I am often completely alone when I go.
Then I feel the air and smell the breezes. I feel the trees, as I pass, and I watch for birds and animals. I smile. I laugh. I take pictures!
So today, rather than go on about my walk, I thought I would show you. Then perhaps, if you wish, you can go on a walk, too. It is your very own time apart–margin and grace-filled spaces. Seek Him and He will be found. Enjoy Psalm 37 from The Message and the photos from my fallish walk.
Don’t bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.
Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.
he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.
Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.
Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza.
Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
they’re a joke with no punch line.
Bullies brandish their swords,
pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,
or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
slapstick figures in a moral circus.
God keeps track of the decent folk;
what they do won’t soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;
when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.
God-despisers have had it;
God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
vanished like smoke in thin air.
Wicked borrows and never returns;
Righteous gives and gives.
Generous gets it all in the end;
Stingy is cut off at the pass.
I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.
Turn your back on evil,
work for the good and don’t quit.
God loves this kind of thing,
never turns away from his friends.
Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone,
rolls virtue around on his tongue.
His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins;
his feet are as sure as a cat’s.
Wicked sets a watch for Righteous,
he’s out for the kill.
God, alert, is also on watch—
Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.
Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun
while you watch the wicked lose it.
I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—
a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.
Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
insolent souls are on a dead-end street.
The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—
when we run to him, he saves us.