By Elder Lynette Shek
For a while now, I have been struggling with the fact that I have involved God so little in my ordinary days. I can read the Bible and pray in the mornings, but once I close my Bible, my mind turns to other things and God does not feature until the end of the day. That is when I realize that I have neglected Him and then pray a few sentences asking for forgiveness. Most of us will remember God in the big things of lives, our significant ups and downs. But most of our days are ordinary days, and God is forgotten on these days as we go about our busy lives.
I have tried various reminders to help me “practice the presence of God” – alarms that ring at different times daily, planning the day ahead, putting stickers on my phone, using transition times (when I am waiting for a lift or walking to a meeting) to speak to God. Sometimes they work, but more often than not, I dismiss these reminders, like when we press the snooze button on our morning alarms. Which is why I was intrigued when I came across a video series entitled “An ordinary day with Jesus”. I thought about what that would mean to me.
It would mean starting the day right with God. The Jewish day begins at sundown, and I think that is a good time to start our days too. As we wind down, we review our day with Jesus (the Daily Examen), thanking Him for His many blessings and asking for forgiveness for our sins. We then lay our heads down on our beds with Jesus, trusting that He can take care of the things we cannot, and seeing this rest as a way of worship. When we wake up, we commit all our activities for the day to Him. For different ones of us, the practice would be different. It would be good to think about what it means for you to have a meal with Jesus, drive with Jesus, work with Jesus, do our household tasks with Jesus, use our phones with Jesus and watch television with Jesus.
The key is “with Jesus”. Invite Him in on your travel to work, on your meal preparations, into your relationships. To keep at this habit, we need more than reminders through the day. For me, what I have needed are eyes of faith, ruthless self-discipline and unhurriedness.
We need eyes of faith to see that God is everywhere, and that there is a spiritual world around us in which He is working. When we pray or read the Bible, we can imagine that He is right there with us, turning His ear to us and delighting in us. “Ruthless self-discipline” are words Ps Wei-en used in his pastoral page a few weeks ago and I like them because they convey the reality of the stakes involved. The apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want”. It does take self-control and discipline to obey, but God’s Spirit promises to help us in our weakness. And as we do, we find His presence an increasing reality. Finally, we need to be unhurried. I did not say to be “not busy”, because many of us are busy, but we can choose to be unhurried. We can choose to not multi-task, to make intentional choices and to pause throughout the day.
We will be starting our study of the book of Malachi this weekend. The book of Malachi is about God’s loving covenant with us, or, as someone has said, how much “God is crazy about us”. God wants our company, and as we practice spending each ordinary day with Jesus, my hope is we are able to, in “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17) and “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18).