I have been reading several books lately, all thematically similar: the process of living a pared-down life. So thankful for a library card, and the ability to check out a week’s worth of other people’s experiential wisdom!
One account I have enjoyed is the story Almost Amish, chronicling an ER doctor’s impression that affluence should matter less than the careful stewardship of prosperity. He and his wife include multiple illustrations of how they have lived on less, in order to give more and enjoy life and family with less distraction.
A quote I quickly journalled is part of an old Amish proverb:
Before we can pray, Thy Kingdom come, we must first pray, My Kingdom go.
Before. There is always a before with God. In order live a life that exemplifies Christ, there is always an editing process which is vital to the end. It is not realistic to grow in His likeness without first being stripped of clutter and pared down to the barer parts.
So, when I pray: Lord, help me to love my husband– the first step is often to first pray for a softening of my heart. A hard heart cannot love.
When I pray: Lord, give me patience with my children– the first step is often to pray for the a tender heart toward them. An impatient heart meets its match in children.
When I pray: Lord, give me grace to serve– the first step is often to pray for discernment in my activities and commitments. So, that I do not take on what is not necessary and squeeze people and their needs out of my existence.
I have learned one thing over the years about the deeper motives and direction of my heart. And it is that: My heart always leads me back to me. And I am such an impaired God to serve.
But when I pray the prayers that deconstruct: Lord – remove, unclutter, undistract, realign, change – He is faithful. He gives me clarity of thought and discernment in activity. He takes a heart that is self-focused and allows me to address concerns outside of self. He removes the grasp that I have on me, and replaces it with a world-view that is broad enough to include others.
His Kingdom is only ushered in when mine is ushered out.
When I make no mistake about who is really on the Throne.