Quite often I start my day doing a Sudoku puzzle when no one else is up. This morning as I finished my puzzle I realized that I might have better spent my time in prayer and reading my Bible. There is nothing wrong with working Sudoku puzzles – after all, puzzles of all kinds are useful in keeping one’s mind alert and possibly even warding off Alzheimer’s or dementia.
But what are my actions saying when I start my day with Sudoku? I am saying it is more important to invest in my mind (self-sufficiency) than to invest these precious first moments of the day with my God inviting him to direct my steps and my thinking.
This week happens to be the last of an eight-week Bible study on prayer that I lead with a group of ladies. We have looked up Bible verse after Bible verse that has the power to enhance and rejuvenate our prayer lives and our relationships with God. But if I don’t put those verses into action with deliberate attention to prayer, the time spent studying about prayer is meaningless. These early morning moments should be the best part of my day guiding my heart, mind, and steps as the day progresses.
With my mind searching the concept of “trust” I opened my Bible hoping God would guide me to something that would speak to my heart. My Bible fell open to Jeremiah 7. (Click on the link if you prefer to read the chapter yourself.) This passage jumped out at me immediately.
“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. (Jeremiah 7:2b-8 NIV)
The passage goes on to tell of all the detestable sins the Israelites had been guilty of at that time. I know I’m not doing all those detestable things, but I also know that there are areas of my life that still need attention. God doesn’t measure the size of our sins – sin is sinful and detestable, no matter how small. The starting point for me is in praying more deliberately and giving God the opportunity to direct my paths – starting first thing in the morning.