Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father, which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s.
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” – Proverbs 30:5
Luke, I once heard a prominent preacher say that, given a choice between Scripture and prayer during a hectic morning, he’d take prayer. Understanding his sentiments, I nevertheless have to disagree. True, to read the Bible without speaking to its author is to run the awful risk of trying to figure things out on your own, but to pray without reading the Bible is to run the greater risk of never hearing God’s authentic voice in the first place. Mercifully, we don’t have to choose between the two!
When I rise in the morning, I make a conscious attempt to think about the Creator. Then I put on the coffee and often, but not always, resisting the urge to read the paper, go straight for the Word. That’s the way to begin the day, with Good News, not the murder in Bloomington or the flood in Des Moines, but really Good News. Sure, I read the news later and thus remember the servant I am called to be among the many hurting, lonely people with whom I coexist. But always, to the Word first. Here is hope. Here is purpose. Here is Jesus. Here is God. And here is direction for life, all of life. Before the great devotional writers, before prayer, before my morning run, before cereal, before the trappings of a new day crowd out God, there is the Word. In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis said it so very well:
“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind”
How did you begin this day?
Father, I really do believe that how I begin the day has everything to do with how it will proceed, but sometimes I just get ahead of myself, especially when there’s a lot going on. Help me to live as John Baillie once prayed: “Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of you, let my first impulse be to worship you, let my first speech be your name, let my first action be to kneel before you in prayer.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.