Lenten Devotional: Friday, March 14

Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.

by Carla Dennis
March 14, 2014

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.

Philippians 4:13
I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.

I love reading Bible verses that remind me God is always with me during difficult times and has given me strength to overcome obstacles. It is a great source of comfort to know I’m not facing life alone when things feel out of control, and lately, I have felt out of control. But I’m sure I’m not alone.

On any given day, we might be taking kids to school, working a full day, taking kids to sports practices or music lessons, attending a church meeting, preparing dinner, putting the kids to bed, and then if we’re lucky, finding some time to catch up on our favorite television show. During my time in writing this devotional alone, I have been asked to help with homework, listen to a rendition of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, mediate a conflict between brothers, watch a Lego demonstration, and answer random questions about a houseplant.

Our culture promotes this busy life style, in fact, praises us for our multitasking. We impatiently wait for the stoplight to turn green in order to race to our next destination. To help us keep up with our fast-paced lives we have “express oil changes,” “high-speed internet,” “fast food,” and even “instant oatmeal.” We find ourselves at times more connected to our technology than to each other, our children or God. Even if we manage to find a place to have a few minutes of peace, there is still the voice inside our own head that reminds us of a project yet to be completed, a deadline yet to be met or even dishes yet to be washed.

There is a price we pay for this accelerated life-style that is beyond just stress, high blood pressure or an ulcer. If we are not careful, we run the risk of losing our connection with ourselves, each other and God. In our haste, we miss the ability to see the beauty of God’s creation in individuals and in the world around us. As Rev. Roger Lynn (2007) states, our lives can become filled with the spiritual equivalent of noise pollution. So how do we reconnect with God to feel his presence in our lives, especially when we need God’s strength to help us overcome obstacles?

The hymn we are singing in church throughout Lent, “Come and Find the Quiet Center,” invites all to pause, reflect and connect with God.

Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,
find a room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed:
Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see
all the things that really matter, be at peace and simply be.

The words are personal and encourage each of us to make a connection with God a priority. Although this can be a challenge in our crazy, busy world, in order to feel God’s presence in our lives daily, we need to find that quiet center – that place reserved for God alone. A place where God can be our focus and the steadiness we need to help us through our days. In the quiet center, we find that God is sufficient. We can live in the Kingdom of God now rather than waiting on the future. In the quiet center, we can be who we were created to be – unique children of God.

The Bible gives plenty of examples where Jesus paused and took some time away from his day-to-day responsibilities (e.g., Mark 1:35). It didn’t matter that there were still parables to be taught or people who needed healing. Pausing to strengthen our connection with God brings meaning and purpose to our lives. Using Jesus as a model, we too, should strive to find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead.

Loving God, help me holdfast to you when life seems to get out of hand. May my heart and mind be focused on you, and may I find the quiet center. Fill me with the energy and the spirit to faithfully be what you have called me to be.  Amen.

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