Monday, December 3, 2012

When the Alarm Goes Off

Last week I stated that I wanted to be more intentional and tenacious about setting aside time to rest and rejoice in the Lord's Presence. I've been feeling lazy in my relationship with God and apathetic toward my spiritual disciplines. To that end I confided in a friend who was very encouraging. He reminded me that every moment can't be a mountaintop experience or a carried-through-the-valley embrace. I'm okay with that. I like routine and I am quite satisfied with the quiet that comes with uneventful moments. I explained that I was more concerned by my overwhelming lack of interest in expending any energy in the spiritual disciplines through which my relationship with the Lord began and grew. I compared it to the lack of intimacy and despondency of both my marriages just before they fell apart. In a human relationship, both people contribute to the breakdown of the commitment but when one Person in the relationship is God and the other is me - guess who is the problem!

My friend reminded me of a spiritual exercise a group of us did years ago. We put a green dot on our watches for a week and every time we looked at our wrist watch, we saw the green dot which would remind us of God's grace and love. He suggested I find my trigger - my green dot - that would call me to a moment of living in God's Presence. The moment I hear the word trigger, I knew what to do. Years ago, my mother began a regiment of insulin. She had to be disciplined in eating and testing her blood glucose regularly. She was having a difficult time with keeping such a strict schedule - often eating hours late and forgetting to test her blood on time. To help her keep her schedule, I set alarms on her smart phone. When the alarm sounded, she knew she had to stop what she was doing and eat a meal or test her blood. It helped her grow into the schedule to which she must maintain to stay healthy.

So I found a great ringtone (Closer by Shawn McDonald) and picked three random times - one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening, and set the alarm on my phone. I expected to find me totally consumed within myself and "unspiritual" when the alarms went off. To my surprise this week, that has not been the dase. (This next part is very uncomfortable for me because I fell like I'm saying, "See what a wonderful person I am," but I know no other way to explain the wonderful thing God showed me this week.) What I discovered is that when the alarm went off, that majority of the times I was sharing God's love with someone in some ordinary way. I was helping a woman from another church reformat her newsletter, spending time with a lonely senior who just needed someone to talk with for a few moments, writing a note of encouragement, trying to help someone learn to use a computer, and oh, the alarm just went off a few moments ago while writing this blog. These are the kind of things I do on a regular basis and to which I never gave a thought. But when the alarm went off, I smiled because it was a reminder of why I do these things and whom I do them for - the God I love. Jesus tells us in the sheep and goats parable that whatever we do for a fellow human being, no matter who they are, we do it as if doing it for him. (Matthew 25:31-46) We express our love for Jesus by showing love and grace to others.

I was afraid my devotion and commitment to God was drying up. I was telling myself that I was slipping because I couldn’t see that my love for God has not diminished, but simply is being expressed in a more outwardly way then it did when I first fell in love with him. Our relationship isn’t dying – it’s growing! Still there is room for improvement. I would like to get back to some of that quiet one-on-one intimacy we used to share in my intense study of Scripture and long prayerful hours that defined our relationship all those years ago when I was veracious to learn all I could about the God who loves me. But now I understand that I need only to seek a balance of private and public expression of my love for the God who created me, saved me, and pursued me with love and grace until I couldn’t help but love him in return.


Common Household Mom said...

Great post, and a really interesting exercise. I like to think that if all a person did was engage in a one-on-one relationship with God, THAT'S when the relationship would be fading. "Faith without works"... you know.

Audrey said...

Thank you for sharing this Maureen. It made me think!