MONDAY // READ
Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to God—worship God!
Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!
For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.
God made the heavens—
Royal splendor radiates from him,
A powerful beauty sets him apart.
Bravo, God, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.
Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of God,
Then to your knees—everyone worship!
1 THESSALONIANS 1:2-6
Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
TUESDAY // MEANDERING
Too often we race through life, running here and there, always trying to be somewhere or get something done. We fill our schedules so entirely full that we don’t have time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, where we’ve failed, how we’ve succeeded, or in what ways we have loved. We have agendas, to-do lists, schedules and priorities. This must be done, that isn’t done. We run so long and so far that we not only lose sight of where we’re headed, but also from where we began. Or why we began.
We then don’t know why we’re running. And if we don’t know where we began or why we’re running, how will we ever know when we arrive? What is our purpose as we trudge through life? Why do we wake each morning and go about our day? Are we accomplishing something great and brilliant? It becomes easy for some of us to spend no time on such pursuits, bearing a complete lack of concern for productivity and simply floating by chasing after what makes us happy. Conversely, it can also become easy to become so entrenched in such pursuits we cannot be happy, for we have yet to reach our preconceived ideation of success. The challenge before us is to meander: to wind through life, absorbing everything God created it to be.
We are created by God to love—to love him and love each other. To value one another as we do ourselves. To honor God with our lives. If we try too hard or not enough we’ve missed the point—instead we ought to meander, strolling through this life intentionally—hardly focused on where we’re headed and greatly focused on what we can experience along the way. It is in our meandering we find the beauty God infused into life, and we find reasons to be thankful. It is in the meandering we find ourselves, and our hearts begin to transform and take on the shape of our thankfulness, of our generosity, of our hope and of our love.
WEDNESDAY // CHALLENGE
Where are you headed? Have you stopped lately to consider why you have life—why you exist? What is the goal, what is there to accomplish? By what measure will your success be defined? These questions are paramount to understanding ourselves, and we cannot begin to be gracious, thankful and generous if we do not understand ourselves. Our motivations are birthed deep inside—places often untouched and left in darkness. But it is these motivations that define us. Are we showing the love of Christ—the peace of Christ—with our lives? Our words are meaningless if our lives don’t reflect those utterances. Our hearts have a marvelous way of convicting us, and what we choose to do with the conviction today guides our character development tomorrow. This is how we grow, how we learn. This is how we meander through life: we take what we’ve learned today and use it tomorrow to experience a bit more of life, of beauty, of love, of God.
Take time today, tomorrow, this week, to reflect on yourself. Are you running? Have you quit at life? Or are you meandering through life, exploring to the fullest everything God has? Meandering is a complex and sophisticated talent that takes a great deal of time, patience and constant effort. It is the intentional and forward decision to experience what God has created around us and to be express thankfulness and joy in that. Meandering is a heart-set guided by the Spirit, rooted in empathy, painted in generosity and flavored with peace—it is the willingness to slow our lives and see the world as God constructed it, not as we expect it.
Our challenge this week is to practice meandering—to intentionally and willfully explore ourselves as God created us and our world as God intended: prayerfully and with thanksgiving. Each day is a new opportunity to pray, to fast, to journal, to sing, to sit and think, to stop thinking, to listen, to learn, to express, to explore. Whatever form your meandering takes, be intentional and approach life with great expectancy for thankfulness.
THURSDAY // REFLECT
FRIDAY // THINK
“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” ― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
“Gratitude bestows reverence.....changing forever how we experience life and the world.” ― John Milton
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
― A.W. Tozer
“Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.” ― Anne Lamott
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Lord, grant us the strength to stop and consider what you have done. To be grateful for your love. To see and imitate your generosity. To receive your joy. Teach us explore your world and the place you gave us in it, that we might know and love you better. Help us learn to reflect on you in all things, prayerfully and with gratitude for who you are.