There are times when I pray and plan and commit to waking early to spend time in prayer and solitude before the start of the week, and then 4:30 am on Monday rolls around and I shoot up from my fitful repose, beating the sun, with elbows itching from mosquito bites (I did leave the window open, after all) and a red mark on my left cheekbone from where I just missed the little bugger in a dazed slap attack. God is sovereign in the ends and means of our petitions. He is always perfect in every part of His response.
Also, sanctification can itch.
When I come to, I look at my pocketbook English Standard Version bible, Sharpie pen and standard issue black Moleskine. I would rather listen to music, or go eat a donut, or try to fall back asleep, despite the constant buzzing of my new roommates, than read the next chapter in Isaiah. There´s a cold, dark chasm between the anticipation of how wonderful this moment would be when I pictured it yesterday afternoon and the size 6 font appearing through my squinted eyes in the harsh fluorescence. Praying! Processing! Reworked, post-rock hymns tinkling in the background! I pat myself on the back for how holy I will soon be. Yet when the moment arrives, I balk.
Actions and feelings are conditioned by habit, and the reality of relationship is often far less glamorous than our machinations of what devotion and worship should be.
Seeking Him with all my heart looks like putting myself in His way each morning, praying again, reading again, doodling in the margins again, waiting again. And after coming away from his Word, I inevitably sense transaction. Renewal. Regathering. At times, it´s imperceptible, the still-small through the tin can. Other times, the caverns of my soul echo His praises like no edifice ever could. The reality of His indwelling and the direction of His guidance seem sure, and desire and duty embrace. My mind is full; I could not be distracted from gazing on glory with my heart’s eye if I tried. Why is it not always so?
A day can hinge on adequate water pressure, a sharp razor, a ripe banana, a playlist from a friend that providentially ordered to lift a mood, a cool walk, a green light, or a Monday-morning welcome from increasingly familiar faces. What began as a mistaken biorhythm has been morphed into a momentum force of unwarranted favor. This is Gospel work, “nought of good that I have done”, evidence that the author of my days holds pen and paper with care, confidence, and a penchant for the unexpected.
Grace for the in-between, forgettable moments of our lives is often more palpable and powerful than the sweeping narrative of our redemption.
It´s grace upon grace (or, in a borrowing and realignment from Hinduism, grace all the way down), reminders of the cosmos in a coffee cup, a daily portion and no more for my feeble heart and wandering mind.