The God Of Your Routines
There's something to be said about having routines. I have more than a few of my own and find comfort in them.
I like waking up at the same time every day, usually at 5AM. It takes me a bit to become fully awake, so there needs to be coffee and a big glass of water, and then I begin reading and writing.
I'm also one of those who could eat the same thing for breakfast daily.
I like having set meetings during the week so I can plan my days around them, and I prefer setting all other meetings in advance so I'm not surprised.
I could go on about this as it relates to planning events, trips, etc., but you get the idea.
Here's the problem with having routines and trying to control outcomes by careful planning: The sense of control it brings is illusory because when something happens to mess it all up, it can send you spinning.
But there's another thing that happens when we become entrenched in our routines and intractable with our plans:
Not only do we become risk-averse, but we also tend to miss out on what is happening around us because we're too busy staring at the sidewalk, measuring our steps.
We start to see the world as a series of tasks that must be accomplished, so we put one foot in front of the other, doing everything we can to mitigate any surprises we might face, determined to stay on the path we've set at all costs.
In so doing, we also lose sight of the appearances of the Divine along the way. We stop looking for miracles because we stare at the clock, wondering if we have enough time to keep our routines, schedules, and plans.
Or we lose ourselves in the monotony, becoming stuck in the "regularness" of life as we check off our lists, going from task to task without seeing the forest for the trees.
There's a story in the Hebrew Scriptures from the book of Exodus about how God miraculously provided food for the Hebrew people who were wandering in the wilderness.
The story tells us that every day, a kind of bread-like substance would appear on the ground in the Hebrew camp for years. They could only take what they needed for the day, and there would be more the next day.
But after a while, the Hebrew people constantly complained about eating the same thing. They lost sight of the fact that food was actually appearing on the ground every morning, keeping them alive.
It also taught them something if they were willing to learn.
Author and theologian Estelle Frankel wrote about this story in her book The Wisdom of Not Knowing, and she had this to say:
The manna challenged the Israelites to develop beginner’s mind—to experience something new and fresh while eating the very same thing each day.
You see, it's not the fault of our routines that we lose sight of the miraculous in the world around us; it's due to the fact that we are too busy trying to be in control that we lose our ability to have a "beginner's mind."
When we have a beginner's mind, we are able to go about the tasks and schedules of our lives to do what needs to be done, but we never lose our sense of wonder.
We may be "eating the same thing each day," but we're choosing to find what is fresh, new, and exciting in the midst of it.
This requires something of us. We need to look up once in a while from our task lists and look around to see what God might be up in the ordinary rhythms of our lives.
Because there are miracles to be found if we are willing to see them. In fact, there may be miracles to be found that we have taken for granted for a very long time, the ones we used to marvel at but have become accustomed to.
So, in your regular rhythms today, stop for a moment and see what God is doing all around you. Let yourself feel wonder as you engage a beginner's mind when you gaze at the familiar.
See what new things you see in the sameness and the ordinary. Be amazed at how God appears in all of it.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.