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Pause. What do you see?

If you look at this photo too quickly, you might just miss the joy in it. So look closer. You’ll notice that among all the smart phones sits the good old flip phone. You probably won’t think this is as funny as I or the people who were present with me at the time did, but my point in having you look closer was really to get you to pause. And then look. Pausing and looking is something I often forget to do, but when I do, I often see things with a different perspective, especially if I’m looking to find something good.

If you stopped at this moment and looked around to find something that delights you, what would it be? Sitting at my computer, I see the view outside my window of my favorite mimosa tree, my dog Max asleep beside me (even though he can also bring me moments of chaos!), a cup of hot coffee, and a new pumpkin my husband bought me over the weekend after I told him how excited I was for the season of everything pumpkin to begin soon.

The common thread in all these things I notice in front of me is that they are all gifts from God. In the first photo, it’s not the items in the picture, but the memory of the moment, the people who were there, and the laughter we shared that’s the gift. God provides so much in each and every day that I can easily take for granted if I’m not careful, and the biggest one I can lose sight of is, I’m afraid to say, HIM. That doesn’t mean I suddenly stop believing in him, but it means I can get distracted by cares and worries, or even good things, and put the focus on God in second place.

I’m pretty confident that if I completely followed the advice in Psalm 37, to delight in the Lord and to commit everything I do to him, I would be a much more content and carefree person. I suppose that’s why I’m choosing this Psalm as my first devotional reflection on this series of connecting more closely with God, starting specifically with verses 4-5.

When I began this focus of connecting closer with God several months ago, I was spending daily time with God, reading his word, praying, trying to follow his voice, but for whatever reason I felt restless and tired. Looking back, I also know I was going through some transitions in my job situation and in my personal life, trying to balance them both. If you read over those previous two sentences, you see I repeated and highlighted the word “trying.” That word is significant because it’s what I believe led me to this journey of finding a stronger connection to God. In my time with him, I started to realize that my “trying” was wearing me out, and that it was also a result of relying on myself more than God.

This doesn’t mean I started to give up, to be lazy, or to stop caring about my part in this world. It simply means I became more aware of who can really help me do all the things I’m meant to do, to do things with him more than for him, and to have trust in his timing and his ways, not my own.

Proverbs 16:9 says “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

With these wise words in mind, I know God is in control and that thankfully, I’m not powerful enough to mess up his plans. He will cause things to work in the way that is good and right even when I don’t see how or when. That thought is a relief. It frees me from having to work so hard at every little thing. I can take my cares to him, listen to what his voice and his word guide me to do, and trust him to do the rest.

I will also be honest with the fact that doing all this isn’t easy, and it isn’t one of those things I think anyone ever completely masters. It’s actually the one thing I will say we need to keep TRYING to do. It takes conscious and consistent effort to refocus my thoughts on God throughout my day. In fact, I’m pretty sure that as soon as I finish writing this, I will step away and begin worrying about something! It’s at that moment that I need to stop, to pause, and pay attention who’s present with me - God. I can then say to myself something like this:

“God, help me keep my focus on you. Thank you for your presence, your help with … (fill in the blank with the situation or the person), with this worry I’m carrying. Help me let go and trust you.”

If that’s too much, it’s also perfectly fine to simply say, “God, please help me.” He knows what each of us need. He will provide. Matthew 6:8 says, “Your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him,” which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask. He wants to hear from us just like we as parents want to hear from our own children, or from others we care about. By talking to him, we show that we trust him. We plant that small seed of faith with each prayer, expecting him to move the mountains we face.

So today, let’s work together on delighting in the Lord. Let’s commit whatever we’re doing to him so he can take over the reins and guide us. One way I’m doing that is simply by sending out this devotion. You may have heard me mention in previous writings that writing is one way I find a closer connection to God. It’s where I often hear his voice and feel his presence. Sharing my thoughts is also something I feel I'm called to do in order to share God’s love. If I fear it won’t help or reach anyone in a meaningful way, I am not entirely trusting God, am I?

Here are some ideas you could try to delight in God today:

· Find a moment today to do the thing that brings you closer to God. Maybe you feel closer to him outside in nature. Maybe you feel close when you sing or create music, when you paint, when you meet with friends, when you journal, when you build or make something. Whatever it is, do it with him and let him speak to you. Notice something of wonder and delight that he provides in this time, and if you feel like sharing it with someone, do that too.

· Pause and Notice. Take time during the day to pause and notice something in your surroundings that brings you happiness or comfort. It’s a simple way to calm and center the mind.

· JUST REST. Don’t feel like you need to DO anything for God. He loves you simply because of who you are and wants you to rest in that fact.

· Write down Psalm 37:4-5. You can write it as a reminder on your phone, you can write it on a notecard or post-it note and put it where you’ll see it, or you can write it in a journal, whatever is good for you to see it often and remember it.

· Write a list of all the things in your day that bring you joy. Thank God for these gifts. You could also write down things he helps you through during the day and thank him for these moments.

I pray you have a blessed day, delighting in the one who knows you so well and loves you completely.

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