July 2009

On the couple of days a week on which Rosslyn works I’ve been trying to send her a couple of texts during the day. I just want to remind her that though I’m not with her nevertheless I’m still thinking about her. It just seemed a sensible thing to do given that we enjoy being married. We’ve got in the habit of starting the day with one another, catching up at the other end of the day but largely existing as a ‘functionally unmarried’ couple throughout the day. I thought that after 12 years of marriage, that’d be a good thing to change!

It can be like that in the way we relate to God. Many of us start the day with the Lord but how many of us spend the day with Him? In truth, for many of us God’s intervention in our normal day to day business and busyness is occasional and accidental rather than frequent and deliberate. That’s got to be worth changing hasn’t it?

I was inspired to give some thought to this by an article on this by the great Puritan writer, Richard Baxter. The Puritans were the theologians of the Christian life. That’s probably their greatest contribution to the Christian church. Our neglect of what they wrote greatly impoverishes our Christian life. Admittedly they’re sometimes hard to understand but usually it’s well worth the trouble.

What follows is simply a suggestion; something worth considering. It’s a routine that we might follow to ensure that we don’t just start the day with the Lord, but spend it with Him as well.

1. Go to bed and get some sleep

We often think that the key decision is made in the morning when the alarm clock goes off. Will I get up, or won’t I? But it’s not, is it? It’s made the previous night when we decide to go to bed at a sensible time instead of watching TV, updating our Facebook status or reading a novel. The time we go to bed has a massive impact on whether we listen to God’s word in the morning.

2. Wake up and thank the Lord

I never go to bed thinking that I won’t wake up. And when I do wake up I rarely thank God for a good night’s sleep and the opportunity to serve Him for the day. But that’s mistake, isn’t it? Life is a gift from God for which I ought to express my thanks. And each day is a chance to use the life He’s given to me for His kingdom and His glory. If I train myself to give my first waking thoughts to the Lord then, like anything that we practice, it’ll become a habit. And a good one at that!

3. Get dressed and listen to the Lord

It doesn’t have to be in that order. Enjoy your Christian liberty to have a quiet time in your pyjamas if you must. When the kids were younger this was a massive struggle for us. Sleep was such a precious commodity. And so getting up early to read the Bible is a real struggle. But it’s struggle worth having.

4. Have breakfast and pray for the day

We’re hopeless at this for a variety of reasons. But when we manage to have breakfast as a family it’s a good idea to pray for the key things that each person is facing. If it’s just you, there’s no reason why you can’t pray for the day before you tuck into our Sugar Puffs. But we’re resolved to start this new school year with ‘Table Talk’ from the Good Book Company and make this a family tradition.

5. Travel to work and fight temptation

My commute involves two flights of stairs. I suspect that your commute is longer! But I’m also sure that we both face temptation. It’s a constant companion for all of us because we each have a sinful nature. The summer is a time when both genders face particular struggles with what they look at and what they think about. The gents have to battle with visual stimulation provided by the beautiful women of London. The ladies have to struggle with the visual stimulation provided by the sale offers in the high street. If we’re giving in to temptation, we’re unlikely to be thinking about the Lord. So let’s not let ourselves become defiled. When we get it wrong the key thing to do is to repent and not mope around feeling ashamed. The only thing worse than sin is unrepented sin. Don’t turn one sin into two by not confessing it and trusting in Jesus’ work on the cross to instantly remove your guilt. One of the things that we can do to combat temptation at work is use our commute to read (which may be problematic if you have to stand) or listen to a sermon on our MP3.

6. Work hard and pursue God’s glory

Everything we do, we’re to do it for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our jobs are not simply a way of earning our cash; it’s an opportunity to live wholeheartedly for God’s glory. The work we do, the way we work and the motives for our work are opportunities to glorify the Lord. So let’s work with Him in mind whether the work pays, or it doesn’t. My greatest weakness at work is distraction. High speed broadband, the BBC Sport website and e-mail can be my undoing. And so I can end up working long not working hard. Of course we need to build slack into the system to recharge our batteries and improve our concentration. But my work could be done in less time if I was more diligent and focussed in my tasks. Let’s work hard for God’s glory and then enjoy our rest!

7. Eat meals and always give thanks

Every meal, whether it requires a knife and fork or not, is an opportunity to express our gratitude to God. We don’t just have to thank him for the food, nor indeed for every good thing but also for whatever has come to pass since the last time we spoke with the Lord. Just bow your head where you sit and pray.

There’s great freedom in how we choose to do this. But we can actively seek to cultivate our knowledge of God by keeping Him ever before us in our thinking. Wouldn’t it be great to not only start the day with the Lord but to spend the day with the Lord?

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