A friend on the East Coast, the pastor of a church we attended several years ago, noticed I was on Facebook early this morning and messaged me: "Up early spending time with the Lord?" He was partly teasing and partly serious, I think... I answered, "Actually, yes :) " And he said, "Lol, I knew it!".
This brief exchange got me thinking - I wasn't actively engaged in reading Scripture or praying at the moment I received that message, but I had answered "yes" almost automatically. Was it a lie? Was I just trying to look good and spiritual for my pastor?
Maybe - but then I realized that over the past several weeks, I'd been cultivating, almost inadvertently, the habit of living life with a continuing awareness of God's presence in it. To put it in simple terms, Jesus and I have been hanging out - and I'm so thankful.
I have to be honest here - it's been a really rough summer for me. It looked pretty good on the surface; lots of good family time and memories made, lots of leisure and relaxation and rest, lots of ministry and song-writing and stretching and growth. And it was good, it really was.
But my inner self has been shriveling by degrees all summer long, for a complex variety of reasons. I won't go into great detail here, but between changing churches and financial challenges and less time on Facebook and one of my bestest friends moving away, as well as some other stuff, it's been hard.
I felt hurt and alone; that all my external sources of support were being pulled out from under me, leaving me dangling precariously, hoping there was a trampoline down there somewhere. In response, I inwardly retreated - a subconscious safety mechanism, I suppose. So, while I physically participated in life this summer, my heart and mind and spirit were safely tucked away in a little hidey-hole.
But you know God wasn't gonna let me stay there. Even in the pit of my despair, I started to experience His presence in a way I never had before. Through the disciplines of prayer and gratitude, my daily exercise turned into prayer walks and my inner monologue became praise - sprinkled with a generous dose of questions and requests and observations and just...conversation. God's been training me to see Him; to become more and more aware of the fact that He is Emmanuel - God with us, God with me...
My outward circumstances are pretty much unchanged - I'm still missing my friends, I still have financial challenges, my bestie is still moving...but it's gonna be ok. My Rock remains, unchanging, unmoving, always firm and secure. And for that, I'm grateful.