Over thirty years ago, I worked in a town almost an hour away from home, and my husband was trying to balance his classes and a part-time job. Financially we were stretched, but we desperately needed a second vehicle. The Lord provided an old farm truck.
In the Spring, I began driving this Chevy to Blinn College in Brenham. This vehicle was high off the ground and lacked a side step. I was required to wear a dress or skirt to work every day. These years might have been known as the season of flowing florals. I had unwisely invested heavily in Gunne Sack and Laura Ashley. You might imagine me with one of my voluminous cotton dresses, running towards the open truck door and then trying to launch myself onto the bench seat. This could have gone better, but mostly it did not. Of course, there was no air-conditioning. It’s relatively warm in South East Texas for almost all the months of the year, so I often had to “freshen up” upon arrival on campus.
I sat silently in this truck while barreling down various farm-to-market roads, forever slightly behind schedule. I had a quiet commute for over a year because there was no radio. Looking back, it was a gift in a season of great transition. The old farm truck gave me a sacred space to pray and think.
These days, I can’t imagine anyone riding in vehicles without a radio, a phone, or a tech gadget of some kind. We live in a time when silence seldom occurs. Even standing at the gas pump, you may experience the odd combination of infotainment on a small screen inches away. The soundtrack of our lives seems stuck on play.
The lack of silence causes me to feel distracted. My attention scatters without quiet space in my daily schedule to gather my thoughts. It’s far too easy for my mind to bounce around and think of other things. Even during my daily Bible reading, I struggle. It’s such a discipline to engage in God’s word fully. Multi-tasking is far too often my default setting.
How do I find ways to enter into scripture and be more present?
Psalm 34 calls for God’s people to actively engage in each verse and suggests practical ways to do this.
1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:1-3 ESV)
How do I bless the LORD?
I can bless the LORD by thanking Him and praising Him. Not because He needs to hear that from me but because I am changed by hearing myself bless Him.
Boasting in the LORD
My soul can boast in the LORD because it reminds me about all He has done for me. Try making a list of boasts about what God has done. See how it transforms your attitude.
In verse 3, believers are encouraged to exalt God’s name together. There is something powerful about corporate worship. While we can each enjoy impromptu solo praise and worship time at home or in the car, deep encouragement comes from experiencing musical praise and worship with our faith community.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and deliver them. (Psalm 34:4-7 ESV)
Focus on Delivery
Sometimes the LORD delivers me from an enemy or threat. No doubt, I am sometimes blissfully unaware of all the times He has done this for me. However, He also delivers me from my fears by showing me what is true about Him. Sometimes He reveals that my fear is unfounded and false. Other times, his deliverance comes as He takes away my fears. Still, in other circumstances, He makes His presence known and sends His angels to keep me company.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10 ESV)
Taste and See
How do I taste and see that the LORD is good?
“Taste and see,” could mean to feel, touch and experience a more physical connection with God’s word. God intends to satisfy our hungry souls with a spiritual meal that I might miss out on. How can I signal my brain about the importance of what I am doing?
Cue Your Brain
When God calls me to come more fully into His presence, He requires a full-focused effort of my mind, body, and spirit. This kind of scripture engagement takes some extra measures. I need to ground myself to engage my brain more fully. I may need to ensure my feet are firmly on the ground, and my posture is adjusted to be more fully present.
In the Anglican tradition, we stand in church when the Gospel is read. This is a way we show respect, but it is also a way to use physical posture to remind me how important the message of salvation is.
Setting a Place
Just as I might set the table for a special guest, sometimes setting up a special place to meet God can cue my focus. Is there a chair reserved for quiet time in your house or on your back porch? Lighting a candle or using the scent of an essential oil whenever I read God’s word might also help.
While none of this is required, these techniques can cue our brains to focus.
What if I asked the Holy Spirit to help me?
What if I tried listening to God‘s word read to me aloud while I traced my finger across the text?
Some days call for an even more focused effort.
- Listening to the Bible while writing out the Scriptures
- Singing Bible verses
- Journaling or doodling
Trying different ways to take in Bible verses can offer a fresh perspective and promote growth.
Fear and Lack
How can fearing the Lord cause me to have no lack? (v. 9)
Fearing the Lord is realizing how immense He really is. When I ask Him to reveal himself as Jehovah Jireh (the Lord our Provider), I may begin to see more of the ways He has provided. I could even make a list of His generosity.
I am far too good at estimating lack. When I focus on weighing and measuring what I don’t have first, then that is all I see. When I focus on the provision, I may have a different perspective.
Lord, help me to sit in silence. Guard my mind against distraction. Help me to focus on what you have for me this day. Help me to taste and see Your goodness, and be satisfied. Teach me Your ways to do this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.