One of the deepest blessings of my recent Sabbatical was the opportunity to simply slow down. Room in the schedule provided large swaths of time to prayerfully reflect on many aspects of life, not the least of which are the rhythms of our family. I'd like to share one result of that reflection with you. Confession time: I've recently (the past seven months or so) had difficulty leading our family in a time of (what we have called) family worship. Lots of reasons. Schedules. Differing ages of children. Unsure what would work best. My own legalism about the whole thing....All of them excuses really.
And then...what if we just read the Bible? What if we just took 10, 15, 20 minutes, I read the Sacred Writings - without the intention of turning it into a Bible study, or any need of extended conversation - just read it and let it wash over us, prayed briefly, and headed into the day?
So that is what we've been doing. I wake up, spend some time in the Sacred Writings and prayer, get some exercise, have breakfast, clean up, and make some coffee. By that time, the rest of the house is up and moving about, and we sit down and hear from God. We read a few Psalms, which instruct us on man's relation to God. And then we read a Proverb, which instructs us on man's relation to man. We pray. We enter the day. It is my plan to do this for as long as there are children under the roof.
I know, it's not rocket science. But hey, my goal isn't to impress you, but to encourage you. If you aren't doing something together as a family, maybe a simple plan like this would be just the thing. It has been so rich and so encouraging for us. And it is remarkable how the reading of those texts together equips us for the day.
For example, yesterday morning was Psalm 37. David opens the Psalm with a statement on evildoers. They exist. They are in his life. And one gets the sense they are in his proverbial grill.
Psa. 37:1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
Those are helpful words for a family. We all will face evildoers in our lives, maybe even today. Kids will head out to play with kids. Maybe one of them will be a bully. David wants to give us perspective about them, how we should respond to them, what are the length of their days and ability to impact us.
But that is not enough. There is something far more important we must do when it comes to the wicked.
Psa. 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psa. 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psa. 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
This arrests attention. The focus is not on expending your energy toward the one jacking with you, but rather to the One in control of you, the evildoer, and your situation.
Since I don't want to write a commentary-length treatment for you here, let me just point out the core of David's counsel to our family. When you are in a situation of evildoers surrounding you, and jacking with your life:
- Trust in the LORD (v. 3).
- Delight yourself in the LORD (v. 4).
- Commit your way to the LORD (v. 5).
- Trust in [the LORD] (v. 5).
- Be still before the LORD (v. 7).
- Wait patiently for the LORD (v. 7).
- He will give you the desires of your heart (v. 4);
- He will act (v. 5);
- He will make known your righteousness (as opposed to the deeds of the wicked) as much as the sun shines brightly at high noon (v. 6);
- and such trust and delight and commitment will keep you from fretting (v. 7).
Do you see? A little of the Sacred Writings, simply read aloud, go a long way. Imagine what such a daily time could do for your family.