Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Iced tea is still on the menu here as it continues to be very, very hot outdoors! I am so looking forward to the coolness of autumn. However, I also want to know where most of the summer has gone?

Being a pondering type of person, I spent some time this past week wondering where I lost them... June and July. They were here, right in front of me just... yesterday? So much for Mary. I have not been keeping my usual devotions, much less adding more time as I had intended.

If you will remember, this was going to be the Summer of My Mary Heart. Like Mary, I was going to sit at the feet of our Lord and do some serious praying, studying, Bible reading, etc. Sigh... such good intentions. Instead this ended up being one of the busiest summer seasons in my recent memory! All good intentions vanished out of the proverbial window. How I tried to get up earlier than usual. The spirit was truly willing but the flesh was oh so weak as my busy days took every bit of my energy. I felt quite discouraged. Where did the summer go?

It was while I was doing dishes a few nights ago that I thought of another past "saint of God". YES! This person will be perfect to emulate for the coming autumn months. Goodbye Mary and Hello Larry! Lawrence, that is... Brother Lawrence*. He spent a lot of time in the kitchen, too.

Brother Lawrence tried to be holy for many years but did not find true peace until he learned to fellowship with God while in the kitchen. I can relate to that. So many of us long to have hours of Bible study and prayer time but feel we are constantly being interrupted by people, and chores, and the constant gotta do's that come up each and every day. They can leave us tired, drained, and empty.

I guess my Eureka moment came when I realized (once again) that doing such important tasks as making a stew, baking bread, cleaning the floors, listening, chatting, teaching, offering advice, changing diapers, cleaning peanut butter off the carpet again, keeping a toddler safe, feeding a baby, driving a teenager to another lesson, helping a child learn to read, listening to a husband's fears about his work, sorting clothes and then sorting more clothes, and writing...can all be done as an offering to Him. That's what Brother Lawrence was trying to tell us.

All of life can be a sacrament when all can be offered at His feet. Our work and the tired body that results, a sacrifice of time returned to the One that gave us that time, and wife or husband, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, house to clean, clothing to clean, lawn to mow, and the ever present dishes to wash.

For the people he has placed in our life are not obstacles and the tasks are not to be rushed through so we can do something more Holy. They are the very fabric of our life, that for which we were born.

If we truly believe all Life is from Him, then our life is from Him. Yes, we must get away from our responsibilities for at least a short time each day to continue reading through our Bible and a devotional book, to lift up our praise and worship, our thanksgiving, and our needs before Him. Perhaps even spending time to write them in a journal. There are also those precious seasons in each life when we have more time to give back to the One who created us, perhaps even the setting aside of entire days for important prayer and pondering.

But He understands such limitations as Time and Space for He is the Creator. He was there when it all began. He created each of us. He knows our responsibilities and He does not ask most of us to spend a life only in prayer and study. At the same time, He knows we will not able to live a life of peace without spending time reading His letters to us, learning about those who have walked this path in ancient times, anticipating Bible prophecy and His next advent, chatting with Him about our day, crying out to Him and perhaps stomping our feet at the absolute unfairness (or so it seems) of this world, shedding tears on behalf of others, and just sitting in His Presence to soak up ...Life.

All we can do... is what we can do. The enemy of our souls whispers in our ears that if we can not worship Him perfectly with hours spent before the Throne of God, then he doesn't want the five minutes we can spend in quick communion today. We have learned to turn our back on the whispers, open to the Book of Psalms and soak up Peace. We have learned to write down our prayers so we can offer them up to Him during a break while the soup is simmering or the bread is rising.

We are developing true Relationship a little each day and during those precious times we can sit at His feet for long periods of time, we are not strangers to each other but Friends indeed. More than Friends but the Bride at the feet of her coming Bridegroom.

*The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

17 comments:

Heather said...

This is such a precious reminder to me right now Brenda - thank you for posting just what my weary heart needed this morning. God bless you in your quiet moments - however long they are!

Connie W said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Very good.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

This is one of the best pieces of wisdom I've ever read, Brenda. You are precious, precious. My favorite line in the post was this:

All of life can be a sacrament when all can be offered at His feet.

Amen to that. If only I could see it that way on the hard days. I will try harder!

Carina said...

Brenda,

Thank you so much for this post. As a mother of a 4, 5, 7 and 9 year old, I am OFTEN busy in household tasks and feel guilty on days that I didn't get up early enough to have a solid hour of Bible reading and prayer before the children are awake and raring to go.

Your message that God is still happy spending time with me even if it isn't the first thing in the morning or for as long a period of time as I would like was a message of which I needed to be reminded.

Thank you!
Carina

Lallee said...

Beautiful perspective. Thank you, Brenda!

Patty said...

Beautiful Brenda,
I can so relate, it is a weary day for me today. Heat and chronic illness...I know you understand. ((Brenda))
Thanks for sharing your heart with us today. It was my goal this summer to be more of a Mary and read that book too...sigh. Now it is August. But I am encouraged, thank you!
Bless you Brenda!
Patty

Morning Glory said...

You said it so well and I very much agree with you. I find myself talking to God whenever I need to and not just at a prescribed time. Thank you for putting it into words for us.

Betty said...

Well said, well said.....Betty

Anonymous said...

< For the people he has placed in our life are not obstacles and the tasks are not to be rushed through so we can do something more Holy. They are the very fabric of our life, that for which we were born. >

This was my favorite. Thanks for the lovely tea time. :)
jo

Andrea said...

You might be interested in a book I just finished reading entitled Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life. The author is Margaret Kim Peterson. She has a fabulous chapter on the theology of keeping house, and her whole premise is what you were mentioning: that these very daily tasks are sacramental.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

KJ said...

Brenda, this is beautiful! It truly does involve making everything we do an act of Worship and a celebration of who God is–– and who He has created us to be. We get ourselves into such a quandary sometimes because we need things to be perfect or we're so involved with quality and quantity that we neglect to do anything.

Like you, my summer is vaporizing and my optimistic agenda has fallen on the wayside. This missive from your heart really spoke to mine!

Your post makes me want to dig out my copy of Brother Lawrence's book, "Practicing the Presence of God". In fact, I went online and found this little mini book that can be downloaded for free! I tried to put the web address in this post, but it won't accept it.

I will put the link on my site under "The Sun Room" links...

Grateful Hugs, kj

freddie said...

beside the fact that the music was absolutely fantastic I had to print out your post. I wonna read it in the quietness of my room and not in this buse computer room.
thanks brenda

Miss Paula said...

When I was younger and my four children were little and my husband worked so many hours, I often felt guilty for not having quiet time and for not spending so many hours in the Word! But now I know that HE probably understood my position and took from me the prayers and all I could give. So young mother's don't feel guilty because you have been called to raise your little ones and you can be obedient in thisss task and that is what God wants from us.

Tealady Tammy said...

This was so what I needed to read. I have been feeling like the days have gone by and I have not been very disciplined in spending time with God. Thanks for sharing

Trena said...

Brenda,
Mmmm, good stuff to chew on. Thank you!

:) Trena

Sarah said...

A beautiful post- just what I needed as I enter two more days of intense busyness. Thanks for the poignant and timely encouragement. And, having just discovered your summer reading project...that's great! M. L'E. is one of my favorite authors. Hope you've enjoyed it!

Lynn said...

Brenda, thanks so much for this wonderful post, contemplating how we can connect with God in the midst of our everyday chores. I'm currently reading The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and 'Women's Work' by Kathleen Norris, which seems to cover some of the same ground. After reading your beautiful thoughts I now know I need to read Brother Lawrence's book next. The verse I've posted above my kitchen sink recently is ". . . a cheerful (good) heart has a continual feast." (Prov. 15:15b) I like to mull on that as I make food for my family and do the steady stream of dishes. I like the idea of continually feasting! Thank you for your thoughtful ponderings; they are such a blessing to me :)