Some of us just want to read the directions ourselves. It’s the way we’re wired.
We speak with clenched teeth to the well-meaning:
“Don’t read me the the package insert, and please don’t show me how to do it …just (grunt, sound of ripping) give me the paper and let me read it myself.” Sigh of relief; panic subsides. I can do this. Leave me alone.
But once in a while, almost in spite of myself, a prayer/groan rises and the Spirit hears it. So after months of floundering around trying to revamp my devotional time, I stumbled on a book that saved me: Disciplines for the Inner Life, a week by week compilation of thematic Scripture and excerpts from a vast range of Christian writers. Bob Benson, Sr. and his son, Michael W. Benson prepared this book for Thomas Nelson. My edition, discovered in Hyde Brothers where I wasn’t looking for it, was published in 1989. I’d never heard of it, and have no idea whether it’s still in print.
Another groan, occasional and desultory, goes something like this: “Once upon a time, You gave me a verse for the year, a theme to focus on. Of course I generally forgot about it before December, and I can’t say I’ve made a lot of progress in those areas…Maybe that’s why You stopped? Or is it because I stopped asking?”
On the last morning of the old year, I picked up Disciplines and read the passage for the day. It resonated. I walked away. And then, by God’s grace, as I sat on New Year’s Day pondering the year ahead, that Word came back to me as if engraved in gold on marble. It’s been some years since I was blinded by the obvious that way, assaulted by a passage which proclaims to me that this is my directive for this time.
I’m sure I’ll be writing about that passage at some point, as I live with it from day to day. It won’t mean to you what it does to me, but that’s all right. My thankful heart today sits satisfied because God still answers the prayers we hesitate, forget or are ashamed to pray. Asking for direction is difficult for some of us. But not paying attention when directions are given is hazardous in a life which is already hard enough.