The one question you need for each day

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“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

There is such incredibly good news hidden in this verse! And I can hardly wait to share it with you!

But while we’re waiting (may I whisper?) the hardest – and the best – part of writing is the living of it. While I’m working toward the end of the month deadline for completing my study, Rational Worship: Offering Ourselves to the God of Mercy, I’m finding myself in the midst of perhaps the worst flare of my illness in the past two years. It’s not fun. But it’s good. It’s forcing me to ask the really important questions:

  • What does it look like to offer my body to God when I’m struggling to drag myself out of bed? (And why would he want a body like this anyway?!)
  • Where’s the grace in each verse, in each day’s study? (If it’s not enough to get me through the day, it’s not ready to offer to you.)
  • Why is it rational to offer myself to God again when I’ve done that and now I’m here?

I’m asking, and He’s answering. And most of that will be posted here in a few weeks, all ready for you to dig in and discover the grace for yourself.

But in the meantime, what does it look like to offer as a sacrifice to God eyes that refuse to focus and a body that’s  limp and light-headed and nauseated? Does it mean pushing through the pain to keep writing? Stopping to listen and rest? Some other mysterious something in between? I asked Him once more on Saturday. And finally I understood. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, no formula that fits every day. Because to apply a formula would be to miss the whole point.

Every moment is an invitation into relationship.

There’s no way to get around that.

(And I’m not looking for one!)

There’s no formula. Just a question. “Jesus, how do you want to be with me in this place?”

Sometimes he invites me to put my head on his lap and rest. (Some of the best insights come during those times.)

Sometimes to give the work a go for an hour (Often, then, he meets me in it with such grace that I don’t want to stop.)

Not once have I heard Him say “Just suck it up and get on with it.” (That voice is mine. But He’s teaching me to be gentle with this one that He loves.)

Always the question is the same: ‘Jesus, how do you want to be with me in this place?” And while the answer is always unpredictable and sometimes wildly surprising, there’s one part of it that never changes: “Come closer.” And when I can’t hear the rest of His answer? The invitation then is to trust, to know that this One whose perfect goodness and unfailing love has been pursuing me all my life is still, always, calling me to come. And He will lead me home, deep into His heart.

14 thoughts on “The one question you need for each day

  1. […] The One Question You Need for Each Day [Carolyn Watts at Hearing the Heartbeat hearingtheheartbeat.com] […]

  2. Bonita Dirk says:

    Thanks for this.

    I am struggling a bit right now with a desire to know God’s word and to know God and to know his love.

    I have been doing Iain Provan’s Old Testament course for a long time and am finally getting close to the end. But, it took me so long to do it that I don’t feel like I have a good overview in my head. I wish I had a good understanding of each book and what it has to say, maybe a summary.

    I also feel like I’m not doing very good at loving God and knowing that he loves me.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you for sharing this. Very helpful.

    Bonita

    On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM, Hearing The Heartbeat wrote:

    > ** > hearingtheheartbeat posted: ” Therefore I urge you, brothers and > sisters, in view of Gods mercies, to offer your bodies as living > sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of > worship. (Romans 12:1) There is such incredibly good news hidden in this > verse! A”

    • Hi Bonita,

      That desire you’re feeling to know God and his love is Him at work in you, drawing you closer. Isn’t it lovely that He keeps inviting us to come closer?!

      It can be easy to think that having a summary of the Bible in our head is the same thing as knowing God and his love, but they’re not necessarily the same. Some people can summarize every book but don’t experience God’s love, and others struggle even to remember where to find their favorite verses, but live deeply in God’s love. So while digging deep into God’s word is a key part of getting to know Him and live in His love, we need to be sure we don’t think that if we know each book really well, we’ll be living in God’s love. John 5:39-40 always strikes me: ““You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Can you hear what your deeper desire is? If it’s to know God, you might approach the Scriptures in quite a different way than if it’s to know the Scriptures.

      To know God, I’d suggest reading a smaller portion each day rather than trying to get through a book quickly. For example, you could start with Luke or John (or Genesis or whatever else) and just read one story or short section several times, asking God to meet you in it and help you hear what He’s wanting to speak to you in your particular situation. I find it’s helpful to put myself in the place of one of the characters in the story and imagine Jesus meeting me. What’s the expression on his face? What’s his tone of voice? What’s the longing in your heart and how does he respond to you? There are a couple of helpful (short!) resources on how to do this here: http://soulstream.org/prayer-resources/. The prayer of imagination takes longer so is great for a Sabbath; you might find lectio divina more do-able on a work day.

      Often the struggle to know God’s love has a lot to do with past hurts too. Sometimes we have to be willing to let God take us deeper in those areas in order to experience His love. (We can talk more about that if you like.)

      I’ve also heard several people recommend Larry Crabb’s “66 Love Letters.” I haven’t read it, but it is coming to mind, and I am wondering if it might help merge your two desires to experience God’s love and to know the Scriptures if you read something like this along with the Bible. Here’s a link where you can preview the book: http://www.amazon.ca/66-Love-Letters-Conversation-Invites/dp/0849946409

      Grace to you!
      Carolyn

  3. […] I’ve been following Carolyn Watts’ Hearing the Heartbeat blog for a while now, and she’s a writer I can trust to be authentic, transparent and encouraging. Not long ago she posted an intriguing question about how this ongoing “living sacrifice” might look. [Read: The One Question You Need for Each Day] […]

  4. We’re so quick to want a formula, and God wants a relationship. Thanks for expressing this so clearly… and for sharing the hope of it. I’m looking forward to the study!

  5. Jo Dee Ahmann says:

    As usual, beautifully said. Would it be OK to read this to our women’s group?

  6. Myrna Edmisten says:

    So true, so clearly conveyed, so perfectly walked out in your life. Treasure.

  7. Bob Morris says:

    Another winner! Your pain makes your reflection particularly apposite, but I am in the middle of preparing a message on Romans 12: 1-8 as part of a series on “Whole Life Worship” for Fair Favens this summer. I’d love to see your paper if that is possible once it is complete. In the meantime I pray God’s grace and strength for you… Bob Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 19:04:12 +0000 To: rdmorris@sympatico.ca

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Bob. You’re welcome to see it. In fact, the “paper” is a six week Bible study with individual and group study portions and leader’s guide, so there are bits of reflection scattered between questions throughout. The full study will be downloadable (free) from the “Rational Worship” page on this site in early February but I’ll also try to remember to email it to you.
      Thanks for your prayers!
      Carolyn

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