So, how has the New Year been so far? It’s only day 5 of 2014 but I’ll admit to you that some of things I determined to do, to be resolute in, have already been difficult. See, I took my own suggestions from the last blog. I went to Bible Gateway and chose the 90 day reading plan. I set up a separate e-mail folder to file and categorize the Girlfriends in God devotional that I receive daily. I bought two new packs of neon index cards and I downloaded the Bible Gateway app onto my phone. And now, for me, is the difficult part – following through!
I love the set-up of things. The newness of the organization holds so many possibilities. And the lists and plans look pretty to me all written down with exact lettering and arranged just so. Might be because I’m writing from Michigan and we’re getting another snowstorm, but the “best laid plans” remind me of an overnight snowfall.
Pristine. Fresh. New. Not a mark on it.
That’s how my calendar looks to me when I finish writing down the Scripture passages I want to read each day. Or my index cards look after I write down the verses I want to memorize and put them in order of the way I want to go after them. They’re beautiful. Pristine. Fresh. New. Not a mark on them.
But eventually, someone has to leave the house, go get the mail, take the trash to the end of the drive—and there are the marks. Tire tracks left behind to run an errand. Cloddy old boot prints to the mailbox. Trash bag drag marks cutting from the garage to the edge of the road. And the unmarred beauty disappears.
Same with my 90 day calendar and my Scripture reading. I have this perfect scenario dreamed up in my mind about the beautiful way it all unfolds at the beginning of each fresh, pristine, new day. There I am sitting at my desk with a studious look on my face and a steaming cup of coffee by my side. I’ve showered and have my make-up applied impeccably as I open my Bible, filled with the Holy Spirit, and dive into the Word. The beauty of my time with Him remains intact and undisturbed.
No prints, no tracks, no drag marks.
It rarely works that way. Most often, I’m still in my pajamas without even brushing my hair. I’ve had coffee but I’m carrying my computer or my Bible from place to place with me, reading my Scripture aloud as I am doing things that have to get done every morning. It doesn’t always feel like the beauty of meeting with Him is intact, whole, or undisturbed.
And my imagination doesn’t stop there. I have the picture perfect completion of my scheduled reading time as well as the seamless transition to my next activity planned out too. In my pristine new day, I end my 90-day reading plan time, by using a new highlighter with an unfrayed tip to make a perfectly straight line over the passage I have read and I walk away feeling satisfied, full of the Spirit, and ready to begin working on the verses I want to memorize.
In my real life, I make a mental note that I’ll do that when I can find a highlighter that doesn’t have a tip saturated with black sharpie marker and I stuff my index cards into my purse so I can work on them at the doctor or riding in the car. “After all,” I hear my mind say, “I want to make God a part of every activity!” And that’s true, but do you see how different my imagination and my reality are? My reality doesn’t reflect the unmarred beauty of that newly laid plan. My reality, like my highlighter, is a little frayed at the tip.
In my imagination, I somehow glided over the fresh snow and retrieved the mail without leaving a trace, soared in our minivan like Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to get milk, and floated, trash bag in hand, from the garage to the road without disturbing a single flake of snow—without marring the beauty in anyway.
In reality, I put on my old boots with the broken shoestring and left footprints twice the size of my feet from the front door to the mailbox. And they weren’t even in a straight line. The van was not occupied by anyone enjoying toot sweet candies and not only does it leave tread marks behind it, it drops pieces of dirty snow from the wheel wells. And those trash bags, they are much too heavy to float with!
That’s my reality. The snow around my house doesn’t stay in its pristine state for long. Life starts to happen and life, well, it leaves big old prints, hard packed tracks, and drag marks all over my fresh, new plan. The unmarred beauty quickly disappears.
But you know what? I don’t think God minds a bit when I come or when you come to meet Him wearing cloddy old boots with broken shoestrings. I think He’s glad we want to be there. Does He want to see me looking that way every day . . . my guess would be no. But, if on some mornings, it’s the best I have and I purposefully pull on those boots and stride across the snow to get to Him, I think He looks at those big old footprints and He sees love. It might even be that He looks at the heart driving the determined steps of those boot laden feet, the ones that mar and disturb with each new stride, and He finds them to be beautiful.
God doesn’t look at our well laid plans. He doesn’t look at our neatly written calendars. God looks at the heart Sweet One.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
He knows your desire to meet with Him and He is not surprised by the challenges of your day. You are not and I am not the first of His children to contend with interruptions or encounter obstacles. And our God, who does not change, has never placed any value on the things that appear impressive to our limited human vision, but He has always seen straight to the heart of the one who loves Him.
Now we don’t take this as an excuse to have an attitude of license and give God less-than, but we protect ourselves from a posture of legalism by trusting Him to know the intention, the yearning, and the desire of our souls.
then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 1 Kings 8:39
Beloved, don’t take the task of deciding what beauty looks like from the Father’s perspective on yourself. If I may be so bold, it doesn’t belong to you. It isn’t yours to determine. And simply put, you nor I are equipped to do the job. We’re too extreme, swinging from one side to the other, justifying our actions in one breath and condemning our hearts with the next. So, what say you and I decide that we’ll forge into every pristine day and we’ll proceed to leave our love filled cloddy boot printed, minivan tread tracked, trash bag drag marked prints all over it and then . . . . well, we’ll depend on the Beautiful One to see straight to our hearts.
Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever,
and keep their hearts loyal to you.
1 Chronicles 29:18