MONDAY // READ
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
TUESDAY // Enraptured, Drawn
We don’t often appreciate life—we don’t enjoy the value therein, respect the frailty thereof—we surge ahead without much thought to the intricacies that mark our stories. We, as a culture, become so enthralled with our own ambitions and pursuits we miss the brilliance all around us; we fail to marvel and wonder. Some would say they aren’t the “marveling type;” some people simply aren’t raptured by the sunrise, by laughter, by beauty. Though, to challenge such a notion, we are all captivated by one thing or another. We choose our poisons—or they choose us. We are all enslaved by something: for one it might be art; for another, football; for another, television; and for another, sexuality. We are whimsical creatures, tossed about the waves of our own desires, tied down by the ambitions of our minds and compelled by that which we believe will make us happy. This is the human state: to be enraptured to a god.
We make our choices, choose our battles, and find our niches. We order and organize those things we hold most dear, whether animate or inanimate, idea or object or soul. In these we place our hope, we find our identities and we seek our joys. In these, we search for joy, often finding either happiness or something so numbing we forget why we’re searching. Busyness is such a god, as is control, fear, pain, lust, and vicariousness. To pursue joy so detached is more destructive than to never pursue it at all. And the withdrawal of all of this becomes anxiety—a gaping whole within our hearts, decaying our hope and conquering our minds. Whatever and whomever our gods, the lack thereof becomes anxiety. And anxiety is a powerful motivator to blindly consume something, anything, to fill in that hole. There is no appreciation in anxiety, as survival becomes paramount and the emptiness must be filled.
No matter the goodness, the no matter the reason, binding our hearts to something or someone so whimsical, so buoyant, will always leave us wanting. We cannot understand such a concept with only our minds: it is too grand, too magnificent. To appreciate life, we must appreciate creation—our creation. And we cannot appreciate our creation without appreciating God, by whom we were drawn and through whom we live.
WEDNESDAY // CHALLENGE
We cannot appreciate life, nor hope, nor joy, nor ourselves, so long as we bind our hearts to such buoyancy. Emotions, ambitions, people and objects are fleeting and unstable, responses to an immediate inclination. They are part of us, of our lives, but they are not infinite. They will disappoint. They will not fill our voids.
We must bind our hearts to infinitum, wherein there is no withdrawal. How can there be withdrawal is there is neither beginning nor end? And lacking withdrawal, there is no anxiousness, there is no wanting. This is not to say we cannot appreciate art, games, people or sexuality. This is not to say we cannot appreciate emotion or pain. Every one of these characteristics and objects of life compose our being, becomes marks in our storybooks. But are any of them ruling us? Are we enraptured to a single one? Captivated by something drawing our hearts away from God?
We lack appreciation for God, for what he has done, if we bind our hearts more tightly to something other than him. Such is preferring the creation to the creator; there is no work without the artist, no dream without the dreamer. We can place value and importance, pride, passion and love in any number of things or people or feelings—but should we lose sight of God, we’ve lost sight of his magnificence. We must not become captivated by anything more than God. This doesn’t mean we must forget to live; we are here to live. We are here to live in such a way that we build an infinite relationship with our creator, that we find our joy in him.
Where are our passions? In what do we place the most value?
ARE WE ROOTED IN CHRIST—building our lives in and of him?
What captivates us? What are our hearts bound to?
This process of being enraptured by the Lord is neither simple nor quick—ARE WE INVITING THE PROCESS and the struggles contained therein?
Is your faith grounded or buoyant? Why?
THURSDAY // REFLECT
What thoughts or emotions are stirred by these images? By this conversation?
FRIDAY // THINK
Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.
To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher…” (Matthew 10:24).
We are safeguarded by the shallow things of life. We have to live the surface, commonsense life in a commonsense way. Then when God gives us the deeper things, they are obviously separated from the shallow concerns. Never show the depth of your life to anyone but God. We are so nauseatingly serious, so desperately interested in our own character and reputation, we refuse to behave like Christians in the shallow concerns of life.
Make a determination to take no one seriously except God. You may find that the first person you must be the most critical with, as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.
Lord, teach us to be enraptured by your love—to know you in the closest and most far-reaching corners of our lives.