This week I have been meditating on Psalm 90. Moses, the psalmist, writes about the brevity of life, comparing it to grasses of the field – here today, gone tomorrow. If we are lucky, we will have 70-80 years here on this earth, he says. When I was 20, that sounded like a long time. Today it seems rather short.

The question I have pondered this week is this: what will I do with the days I am given and what does my daily life have to teach me?

My first moments every day are fairly consistent. Curled on my side, my mind begins to awaken. I notice the dog scratching or chewing his paws and I hope he doesn’t get up just yet. I try to lay very still to discourage him from jumping off the bed. With my eyes closed, I attempt to ascertain if Dave is awake. Soon my mind turns to the day. What does it hold? What will I undertake?

I would be lying if I said I feel joy in those early moments of awake. I really just want to go back to sleep. Why can’t I leap out of bed with a song on my tongue and a bounce in my step?

As I read Psalm 90 again today, I was challenged that perhaps I need to change my focus in those first minutes of consciousness. Rather than attempting to stir up joy and delight at the new day, what if my focus was different. Take a look at what I discovered today.

14Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

Psalm 90:14

I asked myself – what if I focused on God’s unfailing love for me, if I allowed it to wash over me in those first moments, allowing it to quell the early morning doldrums? Would I more naturally know joy? Not because my day is filled with fantastic endeavors, but because I took time to swim in his ocean of love.

Another way I was challenged is to begin my day with a prayer similar to the request Moses’ wrote to close his psalm.

17And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!

Psalm 90:17

As I bask in the ocean of God’s unfailing love for me, let my attention be turned to his eyes, to his look of approval. I wish I could say I don’t care at all what you think or if I have your approval; that I live only to hear God’s “well done!” But it wouldn’t be true. I’m moving that way, he keeps turning my face so I am looking at him. It’s a process.

What about you? Is your self-talk first thing in the morning life giving? Do you struggle needing a new mental routine? Perhaps joining me in refocusing on God’s unfailing love and then a prayer for his approval and touch of success might be just what you need too.

Wednesday I was at the beach. Two experiences stand out to me that I want to share. First, conversation travels quite well at the beach. No wonder Jesus preached from a boat on the water. Everyone could hear! Anyway, back to the conversation I overheard.

A group of seasoned adults were sharing their thoughts about the inauguration that occurred earlier in the day. The attitudes expressed were not especially uplifting. It made me think about my responsibility to the new governing administration. Three scriptures came to mind.

“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. 21He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings.”

Daniel 2:20-21

7And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7

{Solomon prayed…} 9Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.

1 Kings 3:9

If I take these passages at face value, I trust that God is in control. My responsibility is to pray for my leaders and my country which will be to my benefit. Borrowing Solomon’s request when he became king of Israel, I pray for the leaders to have understanding hearts to govern well and know the difference between right and wrong.

This seems not only beneficial to me, but uplifting to others. It’s less comfortable to bad mouth someone for whom you are sincerely praying. I am still surprised and bothered by how easily I willingly put someone down, forgetting he/she is made in the image of God . . . which brings me to my second observation.

At one point in the day, I retrieved some pretzels from my bag intending to enjoy an afternoon snack. It was on my second pretzel that I was attacked from above by a gull nearly landing on my head in an effort to snag the pretzel. In moments, I was surround by squawking birds, eager to share my snack. My friend and I burst into laughter while I quickly concealed the pretzels in my hands and bent my head down to avert a crisis. This wasn’t the first time gulls stole our food but there was a young man behind us who was astounded at the gall of the birds.

Immediately upon seeing what he thought to be my sure demise, he leapt from his chair and came to my rescue. He had a few choice words for the birds and shooed them away, concerned that I was all right. It was such a kind, compassionate act. He didn’t ask what I believed or who I voted for; he didn’t make judgments of any kind. He just responded with compassion to my perceived plight.

I told my friend, “I want to be more like that — quick to respond with compassion and kindness.” I want to see souls, not adversaries; future friends, not enemies.

How are you doing these days? Is kindness your first response? Do you wonder how to support our leaders? Are you finding joy in the simple things of life?

Today is the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States. I don’t know where you fall on the political spectrum, if this is a celebration or a time of mourning. There is one thing I am confident about — God is still in heaven and he still rules! This psalm says it well.

1I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me,“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! 2The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. 3The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?” 4But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven.

Psalm 11:1-4

Today this scripture is especially relevant. It is a worthwhile endeavor to unpack it in order to discover the true treasure of the psalmist’s words.

I trust in the Lord for protection. This is the psalmist’s posture and it is my posture. I shared it yesterday, I will share it tomorrow and the next day. Who do you trust? Who do you look to for protection?

So why do you say to me . . . the foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? There is a habit of birds that best illustrates my response to this question. I believe it is due to having fixed eyes or possibly the way they hear sound, but they tilt their head to one side as they hop along. What can the righteous do? I tilt my head and reply, “go back and read the beginning.”

How can I be still when it appears society is falling apart? For only one reason . . .

The Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven!

Today, in whatever you choose to do, remember this simple truth. The Lord still rules from heaven. That is something I can celebrate every day!

P/S – It really would be worth the few minutes it takes to read this entire psalm. It is filled with confident hope of God’s sovereignty! Read it here!

Sunday night I crawled into bed quite distraught. I knew I would have trouble setting it aside and sleeping well, so I reached for my Ipad to open the Bible app and read something. I immediately remembered that Dave and I hadn’t listened to the daily scriptures for the One Year Bible plan. Silently, I implored the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the selected scriptures to calm my troubled heart.

I will be honest, Genesis 36 is a tough chapter. Perhaps in a different frame of mind, I could have waxed eloquent on the importance of Esau’s geneaology; it was lost on me this time. Matthew 12 and Psalm 15 both had great things to say, but it wasn’t until we landed on Proverbs 3 that I knew the Lord was stilling my racing heart with words of truth. This is what it said:

21My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, 22for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. 23They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. 24You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. 25You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, 26for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

Proverbs 3:21-26

I read and reread this passage. It seemed as if the Lord himself had sat down next to me, gently running his fingers through my hair, calming me, speaking softly to me, giving me permission to sleep without fear. He assured me that all is well and common sense is my friend. There is no need to tremble because he is right beside me, he is my security. He protects me.

And I slept!

What is keeping you awake at night? Have you let go of common sense and discernment? Are you concerned that a trap is set for you? Read these words of comfort again and know that the Lord is right beside you, holding you, protecting you, refreshing your soul.

There are times in my life when the sparkle left my eyes. When I look at pictures from those times, I see dull, sad eyes. Perhaps no one else notices, but I remember. The writer of Genesis describes Laban’s daughters quite differently. If indeed the writer was contrasting the two daughters, Leah must have been unattractive next to Rachel’s stated beauty.

16Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face.”

Genesis 29:16-17

A footnote tells me that the Hebrew meaning for the phrase, “there was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes,” is uncertain. Was she, indeed, unattractive? Or did it mean she couldn’t see well? Were her eyes a dull color? Was she sad? Or discouraged? The reader just cannot know with certainty what might have spurred this descriptive phrase.

As a curious reader, I did some cross-referencing. Was the phrase used in other places? Do the other uses help bring meaning to this verse? I found it in two other places in scripture.

1O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? 3Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. 4Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

Psalm 13:1-4

8“But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery.

Ezra 9:8

In the writing of psalm 13, the psalmist is experiencing a difficult time, perhaps a dream unrealized. In any case, God seemed distant and unreachable. “Restore the sparkle to my eye” is a request for God to intervene, to protect, to change the situation.

In the writing of Ezra, he grieved the propensisty of Israel to forget God’s righteous decrees and go their own way. At this time in history, God brought the people out of captivity in Babylon to live in their homeland. Hence, “God has brightened our eyes,” refers to the opportunity and security God offered the people to realize their dreams, to worship freely, to enjoy relationship with him.

As I look back on my own experiences, difficulties snuffed out the sparkle in my eye. Causes varied from shattered dreams to illness, loss or unexpected changes.

How about you? Have you lost the sparkle in your eye? What might be causing it? Do you feel forgotten in this moment? Perhaps reading the psalmist’s conclusion will be helpful for you on this Monday morning!

5But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. 6I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

Psalm 13:5-6

Happy Monday, friends! So grateful the Lord’s mercies are new every day!

5Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 7Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8

My takeaway from the readings in Proverbs this week are these verses in chapter three. Many times I wonder what God is up to, not only in my own life, but in the world. It doesn’t seem like he does things quite the way I would do it. So I remind myself of this wise principle. Especially challenging to me is verse 7 – “don’t be impressed with your own wisdom!” That’s something we all need to hear now and then.

As I was putting this together, the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle played. It seemed almost like God had put it there just for me. Enjoy the song and have a great weekend!

While this song is quite lengthy – over twelve minutes – it is worth every moment. May God use this song to restore hope in your desert place!

What phrase or description of God in the song meant the most to you? What do you relate to the most in these accounts of desperation from scripture?

In my consideration this week of Hagar’s interaction with the One who sees her and my subsequent delve into how God sees his people, I came across this beautiful picture of how God’s care for his people.

10In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 11like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. 12The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.

Deuteronomy 32:10-12

Yesterday, I touched on the origins of the phrase “apple of the eye.” While it may have originated in Hebrew writings, it is used by many people to characterize a relationship of special significance. It might be a parent for a child, a teacher for a prize student, a coach for an athlete, an employer for an employee. It points to the special affection a person has for another individual.

These few verses give a wonderful picture of God’s care for his people in the past. Consider how it might be a picture of your life as well.

“In a desert land he found him, in a barren howling waste…” Is this sentence descriptive of the condition of your life when God most recently showed up in tangible ways? Perhaps it is the occasion of your conversion or perhaps it is the moment you decided enough is enough with some unhealthy pattern that left you desolate and alone. God showed up!

He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye…” God saw you in the midst of desperation and put every resource into protecting you, bringing you to a better place. Why? Because you are the apple of his eye — you are the object of his special affection. He fixes his gaze on you. You are the light of his eye.

“…like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” Eagles are amazing creatures. They hover near their young as they grow, providing for their needs, but always aware of the need for the eaglet to grow and develop independence. There are times in the process where the eagle creates an uncomfortable environment for the eaglet to facilitate their growth and development. This includes removing all the comforts of the nest so the eaglet is pushed to fly. But the parents are ever near, waiting to catch the young bird as it learns to use its wings. Take a moment to picture the habits of this majestic bird and be fully aware that God is hovering nearby. He is always near, providing for your needs while at the same time, encouraging your growth and development.

“The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.” Who should we attribute this to? Only the Lord. He alone has led you, protected you, guided you, adored you, cared for you, held you. He alone is worthy of our adoration in return.

Take a moment today with the image of the eagle. You are the prized and special student in the class. He adores you and is right there to provide whatever it is that you need. You only have to gaze his way and he will lift you up on his powerful wings.

6I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. 7Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. 8Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 17:6-8

I believe there is a need within every person to really be seen. It began for me as a young child when I longed for my mother to see me. I yearned to know that I was special, that I made her smile, that she delighted in my presence. As I matured, I looked to others — friends, teachers, coaches, bosses — those I held in high regard.

Along the way, I learned that adoration fades. Applause and accolades go away. New record breakers come along. It isn’t that people intend meanness – it is just how life works.

Along the way, I also learned that Jesus sees me. He not only sees me, he delights in me, his thoughts toward me are pleasant. I am the apple of his eye.

The phrase, apple of your eye, was first used in the Bible. It comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means “little man of the eye,” and it refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils. To be the apple of someone’s eye clearly means that you are being gazed upon and watched closely by that person. Your very image is dancing in the eyes of that person! (definition from Christianity.com)

Just as God saw Hagar in the desert, he sees you. You are the apple of his eye. He gazes upon you intently, with adoration in his heart. Today take a moment to gaze into someone’s eyes and look for your reflection in their pupils. (If this feels odd to do with an adult, look for a child. I think they might be willing partners in this exercise.) Once you see your reflection, take a mental picture. Come back to it throughout the day, reminding yourself that he sees you and adores you.

There is nothing quite like being seen. More than acknowledged, actually SEEN!

I know. Sometimes I don’t want to be seen either. Like the morning I decide to run to the grocery store with bed head and sleepy eyes. Then I am glad for anonymity.

The majority of the time, I want to know that I am seen. It is someone remembering my name after only one interaction, recalling details from the conversation, bringing my favorite beverage, made just like I like it. It is someone asking about the vacation I took, the book I am reading, the difficult time I faced – all these combine to touch the deepest part of my longings. To be seen is a big deal.

In the book of Genesis, Abram and Sarai were promised a son. It was getting late in life and the window of opportunity was swinging shut for this couple. So they devised a plan of their own to accomplish God’s promise to them: borrow Sarai’s maidservant, Hagar, and have a child through her. Abraham agreed; Hagar conceived; she got haughty; Sarai got snotty. Hagar fled.

Sitting in the desert, uncertain of where she would go, an angel visited Hagar.

7The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.  8The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” . . . 11 the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. . . 13Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” 

Genesis 16:7-13

The angel didn’t just acknowledge Hagar. The angel knew details about her life – her name and who she worked for, that she was pregnant and that the child was a son and then her son was given a special name. The most encouraging name, Ishmael meaning “God hears” because he heard her cries of distress – he saw her. Every time Hagar called her son, she would remember that “God hears” her. She was SEEN!

Have you ever longed to be seen? For your cries of distress to be heard? Be assured God hears those cries, he sees you. Maybe an angel won’t come and name for your firstborn, but he sees you.

My challenge for you today is this: pause and quiet your mind and body for a minute. Relax into a comfortable position, prepare your heart to listen. Ask God, “When have you seen me?” Begin writing the images, phrases, situations, places that come into your mind. HE SEES YOU! AND HE ADORES WHAT HE SEES!