|Lake Michigan in July|
"You say grace before meals. Alright.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera,
and grace before the play and pantomime,
and grace before I open a book,
and grace before sketching, painting, swimming,
fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing
and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."
G. K. Chesterton
Recently I was thinking of the way I felt when we walked the beaches of Lake Michigan in July, how it refreshed me as one who been away too long and now has come home. There are such happy memories of that week.
Then... from that place in the brain that stores long ago images... I remembered when I first went to the Lake. When God had opened a job in Michigan when we had prayed to go south to North Carolina.
I was in my mid-20s with a quite little Stephanie. We would pack her plastic pail and shovel to make castles in the sand, always certain to bring along our sweaters for Lake Michigan can be cool even in summer. I remembered how amazing the inland ocean looked to one raised in the midst of corn and soybean fields.
All that water. It was both peaceful and powerful. As I kept my eye on my daughter, who was curious about all things and tended to run off, I would pray about our dreams and goals and desires and what God had in mind for our future.
When you are in your mid-20s, your life is an open book. So many of my prayers were for things I wanted God to do and what I wanted to be and the future of our little daughter. I came to love the Big Lake and the smaller bodies of water in Western Michigan.
So it wasn't a surprise to find my reaction to seeing the Lake again last summer. But what did surprise me was how different I was and the way years of trials and struggles, miracles and answers to prayer, and learning to accept His will has changed the way I prayed at the Lake.
I couldn't put my finger on it at all, as much as I have tried since then. Until I read the above quote on Elizabeth Foss' blog In the Heart of My Home recently. That was the difference between my first visiting Lake Michigan and my return in July.
My perspective of life.
Isn't it odd how the way we view life changes the lens of everything we see? Even those places we may have visited dozens, perhaps hundreds of times before? As a young wife and mother I could only think of the future. Returning as a grandmother, I could only think of the past.
While I still have goals and dreams I want to accomplish, most of my day to day world is much smaller than what my younger self would have wanted. I have learned that while God does anoint people who will change the world and preach to big stadiums and have Wikipedia pages about their accomplishments... most of us are anointed for the small things.
I feel His presence, much like Brother Lawrence, in my kitchen. I hear His laughter as I try to relearn how to crochet those first few rows of a scarf with a cat nearby. I sense His smile when creating a scrapbook journal page or kneading bread or washing dishes with the lovely scent of Mrs. Meyer's dish soap bubbling in the hot water.
I feel His nudge when I have a few dollars in my pocket and there is something I need (or really want) at Goodwill just at that time. I know He is there when I am praying for my children and grandchildren and friends each day... and that list of people He has put on my heart to pray for their spiritual eyes to be open and see their need for a Saviour.
I have done some big things for Him but that is not the season I'm in right now. I'm definitely in the season of small stuff. And that is where He wants me. This season of small stuff is where I feel His pleasure and any guilt about not having big goals is (now I know) from the enemy camp.
Like Chesterton, I want to say grace (in this instance, a prayer of thankfulness) all the time. Wouldn't that water down the meaning? Not at all! If we are to "pray at all times and without ceasing" then I don't think He would mind us saying grace at all times.
I want to live a live of grace and of saying grace. Now what goal could be higher than that?
Photo Credit: Mrs. Christopher