My thoughts this morning were on refreshment, renewal and other such happy life passages. I was in the perky place because of my dog. I’d shared the following on Facebook,
Our Black Lab is aging, but last night she had a shining moment of reclaimed youth.
Because it’s so cold, I stand in the garage and let her go out on a 25′ training leash (which never seemed to train her back in the day).
All of a sudden she growls, barks and just about drags me out the door and across the yard.
She’d spotted a deer in the shadows across the street and wanted to go after it. Needless to say, I didn’t let that happen in the subzero night. I restrained her with some effort and we just watched the deer bound away.
But I gave Lily a lot of praise and a treat back in the warm house.
I’m sure she had a great hunting tale to tell the cat.
We have these flashes of the good times now and then. I was getting ready for Morning Prayer and the Biblical passage about “getting back to your first love” ran through my mind. Last year, in the midst of some struggles and changes, I got back to my old habit of reading Morning and Evening Prayer (I’ll let the italics do the talking), using a schedule that offers the entire Book of Psalms every month.
It was a return to first love – the privilege and pleasure of time with God instead of capitulation to all of each day’s passing urgencies. I began to linger in prayer instead of “getting it done.” I was blessed to wander back into adoration, enjoying the reality and presence of God without any agenda of stuff to fix or fret over.
So what comes up as the New Testament reading this morning?
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5)
Now, being who and what I am, I read that with a momentary thought of Wow! Cool! but then got down to stressing and straining over what me, myself and I needed to do. What was it I had abandoned and needed to rediscover? How could I please God again after falling so far from… from…?
A gentle but terribly subversive awareness intruded. What if that passage coming up just after I’d been thinking about it (rather, having thoughts about it just before it came up) was an affirmation from God? What if it was good news via the Holy Spirit from the One who sent his Son into the world to save it? What if (No! Stop! Perish the thought! Vanity of vanities!) it was God expressing pleasure in me for having accepted His invitation to spend more conscious time with Him?
I realized that my self accusing thoughts were most likely The Accuser’s (that’s what the title Satan – in Hebrew The Satan – means) blather and lies, urging me to seek the good in me, myself and I rather than in the free gift of God.
That 30-day Psalm cycle came to the rescue, as a verse I took with me to bed came back into my mind:
I sought the LORD and he answered me and delivered me from all my terror. Look upon him and be radiant, and let not your faces be ashamed. Psalm 34:4-5
Look upon Him indeed.
Be refreshed and renewed.
And don’t be ashamed.