Sometimes we’ll come home from church and I’ll ask our kids, “What did you learn?” They’ll share their lesson and follow it up with, “But I already knew that.” By now they know my response. “Yes you do, but familiarity isn’t the goal. Formation is the goal.” We are familiar with many things that have little or no shaping influence over our lives. In fact, familiarity can breed unfamiliarity.
This is why the call to remember is a theme throughout the Bible. At the core of the Judeo-Christian ethic is the Shema, a Hebrew word that means both “to hear” and “to obey.”
“What is God saying, and how am I responding?”
The text referred to as the Shema is Deuteronomy 6–the call to love God with our entire being. We’re prone to close our ears and turn our backs, however, so the call to “hear and obey” is always side-by-side with the call to “remember.” “Bind this on your doorposts!” “Tie it on your arms.” “Make sure you don’t forget!”
To this end, we are wise to guard our morning routines. I used to quickly pick up my cell phone when I woke up to check messages that came in overnight. To counter this, I wrote the following series of morning vows to help me become fully present to God. I read these at the start of each day:
As a new day emerges, I choose…
To remember that God is sovereign—not me. Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. When circumstances start to fray, I will seek God’s glory over my desire to control outcomes. (Colossians 1:17)
To remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways and the cross remains the gate to the resurrected life. (2 Cor. 5:14-21)
To submit the members of my body (eyes, mind, heart, mouth) to God in faith that He will manifest His character through mine. (Romans 6)
To resist presumption and preoccupation and embrace the joy and inconvenience of kairos moments as God orchestrates them. (Matthew 9:17)
To accept myself as the Scriptures teach and reject envy, self-loathing, and introspection so that I can ultimately forget myself and get on with the work of Jesus. (2 Peter 1: 3-8)
To deny myself. I will live simply, carry myself lightly, release the need to be celebrated and understood, and place the needs of others before myself. (Galatians 2:20)
To live in the joy of the Lord, which will come through forgiveness, grace, gratitude, and allowing God’s gifting to flow unhindered through my life. (Romans 12:9-21)
To pursue the wisdom of a humble boldness that is dead to self and fully alive to God. (Luke 22:42, John 5:19)
To live Coram Deo—before the face of God.
What are some of the best ways you’ve discovered to start the day with a receptive posture to God?