This past Sunday I spoke at Heartland the third message in a series called Missional Spirituality. I gave a suggestion about doing a "daily review" (ancient Christians called it the "examen of consciousness" – doesn’t that sound fancy?) in order to more fully and consistently recognize God’s presence with us in our everyday activities. Many of you wanted some more information on the practice, so here it is, taken from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms:
It essentially involves simply taking a few moments at the end of the day to go over the events of the day and invite God to show us where he was present with us and how we responded to his presence. Ask questions like:
- How was God present with me today?
- What promptings did I notice?
- How did I respond or not respond?
As we reflect prayerfully on our day, we might realize that someone was particularly kind and compassionate toward us, and we can see that God was loving us through that person. Or perhaps there was a moment when we narrowly escaped harm or injury, and as we look back, we can see God was answering our prayer to “deliver us from evil”. I have a friend who just experienced a severe car accident the doctors told her she "shouldn’t have walked away from" – yet she escaped with merely a broken ankle. We might also notice a time where we held our tongue when tempted to gossip (seemingly small things that are actually of great significance).
We might also think about times and places where we failed to respond to God-with-us. Maybe we were moving too fast to really notice what was going on, or we were stubborn or just lazy or didn’t feel like taking the time. This might fill us with some regret, but it will also open us up to making a different decision next time. As we practice this, we begin to learn, as the psalmist did, that God is with us, even in those places that feel dark and uninhabitable to us:
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn,
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.
If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright as day;
darkness and light are the same to you.
For more on "daily review" and other forms of self-examination, check out the teaching and assignment from Establishing a Life Rhythm: Week Six.
To read the fantastic "targum" on Matthew 5:13-16 Carole Steele wrote for this message, check our her blog.
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