Transparent bowtie     I follow daily routines like most people do. If I do not put my wallet in my pocket at the right point in my morning routine, then I may spend the whole day without it. I like a few cups of French press coffee in the morning. Sharing cups of expresso with my brother (Dr. Dan, assistant professor of music at Urshan College) after lunch signals the middle of the day and the gift of fellowship.

As Sherri and I begin this new phase of ministry, we realize some of our routines/traditions will have to be discarded or morphed into something fit for this season of life. I mourned the passing of one of those traditions this morning. For well over a decade I have looked forward to serving Sherri breakfast in bed on Sunday morning. Pulling back the curtain and handing her breakfast (… from a very limited menu I guarantee) celebrates our love for each other. Life brings many changes, but our love deepens.

This morning I realized I am scheduled to be out of town for the next eight Sundays. I anticipate the number will extend beyond that. Sherri will get to go with me on some of the trips, but a few of the Sundays she will have a quiet house to herself. No one will pull the curtain. No one will bring the breakfast. Love will continue, but the valued tradition will have to change to meet the life situation. While I mourn the loss of one tradition, I look forward to co-authoring another one with my special lady!

As I read through Luke 11, I see two ways to address the changes that Jesus brings to us – we can either ask Him to teach us new behaviors or we can expend our energy trying to find fault with Him while justifying ourselves. I wish I could say my tradition is to always follow Jesus. But I try not to lie. Sometimes I continue in a practice, belief, and attitude while the Holy Spirit lovingly calls me to change. Sometimes I embrace the change. At other times I pout.

Luke 11 shows the power of embracing Jesus’ presence. Prayer changes to seek kingdom purposes rather than our own. The asking, seeking, and knocking story comes alive only for those who receive others into their lives. Pounding on a neighbor’s door for food demonstrates persistence for a friend in need. The food would not satisfy a personal midnight hunger attack – the food HAD to be available as part of being hospitable to a traveler.

Do I seek the Father’s good gifts, especially the Holy Spirit (v. 13), to feed those in need who cross my path or to make my life more enjoyable? Will I change both my prayer list and persistence to line up with Jesus?

Will I enjoy relationship with Jesus, but privilege the blessings that come from hearing and keeping the Word of God (v. 27-28)? Will this light bring joy to my life by hording it or by treasuring the opportunity for light to shine into the darkness around me (v. 29-36)? Will I congratulate myself for looking clean on the outside while paving over corruption in my own inner being? I do keep a tradition of being ‘clean’ on the outside, but focusing on that minor part of holiness lets me ignore the more important matters of justice and actively loving God and others. Letting others think they can follow me external purity camouflages a corrupted lifestyle to such an extent that others will fall into the same trap (v. 39-44).

Being near Jesus brings great comfort and challenges at the same time. Such nearness reinforces some parts of my life while urging me to change in other areas.

Prayer

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for being so near today! I celebrate the opportunity to teach a Sunday School class and to worship with the saints. As I enjoy these tradition gifts, I look seek greater faithfulness to Your example. I am sorry for times when I resist, seek to protect myself, and fail to see an open door to love others and do justice. Sometimes I make myself feel more comfortable by saying I am too busy to incorporate these traditions deeper into my spirit and daily life. Sometimes racing through my week helps me hear the tires hum over the sighing of a neighbor in need. Keeping my eyes on the road ahead keeps me from acting justly today.

I know You call me son. I know You love me more now than when I started. These are the reasons I want to be more like You. I like traditions of prayer. You and I have done this for many years. Today, however, You remind me that persistent prayer should be for others rather than for myself. Your holiness exposes deeper places in my spirit that I cannot hide behind my long sleeves. I pray for deeper holiness in my life — the kind that puts traffic cones around potholes of life rather than making them into traps for others.

Oh, how I wish to shine even more brightly for You! I pledge to use this season of change in my life to do so. With the Holy Spirit calling, leading, and equipping me, I know new traditions will bring You even more glory.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for walking with me through Luke 11. Perhaps we can all find new traditions as we live and pray the Word. These changes will not always come easily, but we can do it together! By the way, I also look forward to a new tradition to show Sherri how special she is to me. I wonder how long it will take?

 

God bless,

Jim