by Christine Sine
This week has been a fun week for me as I have been filming our new Spirituality of Gardening on line course which will be available at the end of the month. As well as that, on Thursday evening I participated in another discussion on Evelyn Underhill’s meditation on The Lord’s Prayer. We focused on the phrase “hallowed be thy name” and talked about how rarely we spend time focusing on God and hallowing the holy, majestic and awe-inspiring nature of divine love.
In the midst however, we were all struggling with how challenging it is to believe in a God of love when so many are struggling and in pain. All of us confront the question “Is GOD a monster or the Savior of the world?” So often when we think like this God catches us up short and says: “Do you think you care more than I do? Do you think your sense of justice and mercy are greater than mine?” As Tom Herrick reminded us “the view we have of God is coloured by the state of our souls.” And none of us have souls that are pure.
However I still find that when I am confronted with these kinds of questions I need coping mechanisms that work and as I look to the future I find that a new song is emerging for me to live by.
In the past I have started my day with gratitude towards God but now I realize that gratitude for what I perceive God has done can taint my view of God too. The place I need to start my day is with that phrase “hallowed be thy name”.
Focusing on “hallowed be thy name” first thing in the morning is writing a new song on my heart. And the longer I spend focusing on the holy, majestic and omnipotent God we serve the better I do throughout the rest of the day. When I began this practice it was just a couple of minutes and then I was on to something else – usually gratitude or prayers for someone I was concerned about, but sometimes just on to distraction of my iPhone screen. So it is no wonder that when I faced difficult questions of God’s control and sovereignty that I struggled.
Now Tom and I follow our morning devotions with a 2 mile “awe and wonder walk” around the neighborhood…. Kind of extending our “hallowed be thy name practice. We point out to each other the things that give us a sense of awe and of course with the beautiful array of spring flowers at the moment that is not hard. However I have also found that changing my focus each week – so that one week I reflect on color and beauty, another on fragrance, another on texture and so on can also help. I have even had a week of focusing on the weeds in the pavement cracks – reminding myself that even here God plants gardens and beauty.
So now my gratitude practice happens over the breakfast table with that foundational assurance of the holiness and majesty of God. Tom and I share about what we are grateful for… and then we pray for others. Even those prayers have been reconfigured as I change my view of God. A friend once told me that when she prays for disasters, struggling people and crisis situations she starts with “what is God already doing to respond to this situation? How can I join in?”
I find that changing my perspective from “why did God let this happen” (an unanswerable question that I often think gives us an excuse to do nothing) to “What are the God sightings in the midst of it”? totally changes my perspective of the situation and my perspective of God in the midst of it. It is a joy to join God in the work that God is already accomplishing through the gifts and efforts of others. It is a joy too to realize that I am not alone in the efforts. Our magnificent and awe inspiring God has a whole host of labourers responding in the midst of crisis.