“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you…
In your presence there is fullness of joy.” -Psalm 16
The last couple entries in my devotional have been meant for the valleys, in which we live, as opposed to the mountaintops, toward which we aspire, and the messages have been timely and rich. A recurring daily message has been to recall the moments in which we felt the strength of God’s presence- how did God keep God’s promises and what did it feel like? My own reticence to participate in such a simple activity was shocking and caused me to consider what I was holding back.
Am I afraid to ponder God’s goodness to me over the years for fear my faith will falter? Do I live a life so focused on the present that turning toward the past seems antithetical to my Protestant work ethic? My husband recently pointed me toward a fascinating ten-minute talk in which sociologist, Phillip Zimbardo talks about the impact of different cultural perceptions of time. Turns out our Protestant ethic doesn’t just creep into, but often controls, our daily lives, propelling us to work harder, to indicate that even if we had an eighth day of the week, we’d all spend it working!
At the time that I watched Zimbardo’s talk that last statistic stung in my gut like a bitter pill. I wouldn’t be one of those who would choose an eighth day of work…or would I? I recently stumbled upon a friend’s facebook status reading something like, “I should not answer work emails before bed,” and I proceeded to scrawl a list of emphatic statements in agreement. The truth is, those statements were left to continue to convince and discipline myself into keeping evenings and weekends for rest, keeping them sacred, for me to receive the much-needed grace God has given.
So, as I closed my eyes in silent prayer last night and allowed myself to reflect on God’s goodness, apart from which I have none, I was overwhelmed with the wave of images that flashed across my mind: from the dusty U.S.-Mexico border, to my college experience at Davidson, to my dynamic relationship with my husband, to anti-poverty work in our nation’s capital, and right down to the last summer trip to China in which God demonstrated God’s provision every step of the way, the faithfulness of God’s presence, the emphatic goodness of God brought tears to my eyes.
We Americans may be forward-thinking and hardworking, but I recommend taking a few moments today to sit quietly and stare back into your past with God, contemplating God’s goodness. It is the wonderful truth that “in God’s presence there is fullness of joy.”
Be radical and take a break-choose to use your free moments to experience God’s presence today: you won’t regret it.