Hey all. I’m going dark for a few weeks. Taking a break from blogging and social media for the next 40 days or so. I’m going to spend some time on a little spiritual journey into the wilderness, where I plan pick up the road to Jerusalem. I’ll be back in late April.
I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?”Genesis 31:27 (NLT)
The pattern of deception and manipulation we’ve seen within the family system of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continues to escalate between Jacob and his Uncle Laban. It finally breaks the relationship. Jacob sneaks off in the middle of the night. When Laban asks the question above, the unspoken answer is obvious. Jacob doesn’t trust Laban because Laban has proven untrustworthy. Laban doesn’t trust Jacob because Jacob isn’t trustworthy. There can no longer be relationship between them because the foundation of relationship has been destroyed. There is no mutual trust on which to build life together.
Honesty and trust are critical to a healthy, growing relationship. Deception and passive aggressive manipulation will eventually make any kind of intimacy untenable.
Today, I’m reminded of my responsibility in the circles of relationship and influence around me. I cannot control others, but I must control my own actions and manage my end of relationships. That responsibility includes my being appropriately honest, transparent and worthy of another person’s trust. It also includes the responsibility to set boundaries between me and others when it is necessary to protect myself, my loved ones and others from relational harm.
Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. Psalm 55:17 (NLT)
“Coffee time” is a long held tradition in the Dutch culture which is my heritage. When I was a kid, I thought it was just something that my Grandpa and Grandma Vander Well did when I visited them at their home in Le Mars, Iowa. About 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. and then again in the mid-afternoon about 3:00, Grandpa and Grandma V would stop whatever it was they were doing and sit down at the kitchen table for a cup of coffee or tea.
Years later, I spent three years living in a very small rural town that was largely of Dutch heritage. I quickly learned that at 9:00 a.m. and again about 3:00 p.m. the local coffee shop was packed for “coffee time.” Local residents, businessmen, and farmers congregated for a cup of coffee and a serving of current events or local gossip. I came to love the routine break in the day. I looked forward to it.
A few years ago, I first read about “praying the hours.” It’s an ancient practice that I believe was largely lost in the protest that made many of us Protest-ants. Also known as “fixed hour prayer,” the concept is pretty simple. At set times of the day, you stop whatever you are doing and have a conversation with God.
The practice of fixed hour prayer actually has its roots in Christianity’s Judaic roots. As you read through the book of Acts and the stories of the beginning of the early church you’ll find hints of the apostles’ dedication to praying at specific hours of the day, often going to the temple to do so. You also find references throughout David’s lyrics, like the verse I pulled from today’s chapter, of his praying at specific times throughout the day.
After studying a bit of the history of the practice (click here for a great article about it if you’re curious), I’ve spent the past few years trying to incorporate what I like to think of as “coffee time with God” into my daily routine. While I’m far from perfect in my discipline, I’ve found it to be an enjoyable practice. I purposefully take a break from whatever I am doing at specific hours of the day to have a brief conversation with God. It provides much needed breaks to my day. It keeps me connected relationally with God throughout the day instead of the sense of leaving God behind after my morning quiet time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have coffee time scheduled with a Friend.