By: Jana Greene
A few weeks ago, our pastor suggested that we congregants try something new.
“When you wake up each morning, just say the word ‘Jesus,’ and it will change the trajectory of your whole day.”
The following Monday morning I remembered to do it. I couldn’t WAIT to say His name. There is power in that name, and when it is said with your first breath of the day, it changes things. Vibes, for lack of a better term.
Sound combines with human breath, and puts forth priorities.
The next day, I said His name again with my waking breath, and let it hang in the air. I swear to you that I felt His Spirit brush my heart, in Good Morning greeting.
Wednesday, I woke up and thought about saying “Jesus” out loud, but a myriad of worries rudely cut in line. After a few minutes of self-flagellation for some of my behaviors the night before, I remembered to say it. “Jesus,” I said. But it wasn’t whole-hearted.
Thursday morning, I had a headache. Grrrr. I don’t even want to get out of bed. I felt the downward stirrings of depression seep in the cracks of my being. I completely forgot to call on God in any capacity, and part of it was purposeful forgetting.
Lord, I’ve been calling on your name first thing in the morning for THREE WHOLE DAYS NOW, and I still can’t (fill in the blank with favorite short-coming) or have a solution for (fill in the blank with worry of choice.)
I didn’t feel like it. I felt like worrying in justification of my depressed feelings, and the name of Jesus would certainly bust up my pity party.
Friday morning, I think my first words were “I am so OVER everything!” (sick/fat/tired/lousy at being self-disciplined.) I grumped into the kitchen and said “Jesus,” but with a mouthful of salt and vinegar chips for breakfast, which is really great for the blood sugar and also feeling inadequate. An overflowing mouthful.
I also said a quick, internal prayer to God that went like this, “Sorry, but I’m just not feeling it this morning. Look how fat and out of control I am. Surely you understand.”
And He does understand. But He still wants first place in our lives.
He doesn’t expect us to be in a good mood all the time.
He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.
That set of criteria you have formulated that must be met before calling on Jesus? It is a list unto hell. Our Abba is eternal and eternally ruling, and all of my worries (no matter how looming or large) are just passing through.
There really is power in the spoken word. That’s not new-age rhetoric, but truth. What we form in our minds often makes it out of our mouths, and we know not to use our tongues as swords to inflict mean words on others. But do we extend ourselves the same courtesy?
Mean words are mean words, and when we tell ourselves nasty things, it hurts the same.
I cannot BE that Christian that ‘has it all together.’ That woman who dismisses her worries automatically and trusts God immediately ALL the time (I’m working on it…) THAT woman – the one who never uses potty language and always radiates the Shalom of God, the Sound combines with human breath, and puts forth all the right priorities all the time. She always acts and reacts to SENSIBLY, the quintessential “Proverbs 31” Woman, shining as a beacon of virtue and perfection. She torments me, that lady.
“A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds….
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear….”
(You get the picture.)
I have strived my whole life to be her, and fallen miserably short. A Proverbs 31 woman would not sully her robes with the grease of potato chips. She would not slip up and screw up like I do. (Bingeing on potato chips are the very LEAST of my foibles!)
I’m not the Proverbs 31 woman. But I don’t have to be. I am valued far more than diamonds NOT because of my good deeds, but because…..
I CAN CALL ON JESUS.
This is my pledge, and I would love it if you would join me. Not as an experiment in which we don’t know the outcome until the data is processed, but as a pure act of faith. We say His name in making priorities, first thing. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will show up. He will bless that effort.
Let “Jesus” be the first word on my lips each and every day. That’s all. The whole pledge.
Say His name first thing every day, and then listen for His Spirit to answer back.
Let Holy Spirit inhabit the sound that combines with human breath, and puts forth priorities.
I love The Message translation of the Bible; it makes plain speak of text I otherwise might not understand. These words laid bare the prayer I could not put into words today. I pray it blesses you, too.
“I hate all this silly religion,
but you, GOD, I trust.
I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love;
you saw my pain,
you disarmed my tormentors,
You didn’t leave me in their clutches
but gave me room to breathe.
Be kind to me, GOD—
I’m in deep, deep trouble again.
I’ve cried my eyes out;
I feel hollow inside.
My life leaks away, groan by groan;
my years fade out in sighs.
My troubles have worn me out,
turned my bones to powder.
To my enemies I’m a monster;
I’m ridiculed by the neighbors.
My friends are horrified;
they cross the street to avoid me.
They want to blot me from memory,
forget me like a corpse in a grave,
discard me like a broken dish in the trash.
The street-talk gossip has me
Behind locked doors they plot
how to ruin me for good.
Desperate, I throw myself on you:
you are my God!
Hour by hour I place my days in your hand,
safe from the hands out to get me.
Warm me, your servant, with a smile;
save me because you love me.
Don’t embarrass me by not showing up;
I’ve given you plenty of notice.”
PSALM 31:6-18 (MSG)