The words of the Psalmist in Psalm 62 echo with reminders of the comfort and strength that come from God: “In God alone is my soul at rest. God alone is my rock. My hope is in God.” These words speak to the depths of my heart and give me clarity on where I find respite to my restlessness, tiredness, worries, and busyness.
I know these words speak truth and hold wisdom for me from the evidence in my past. I know God is where I find respite. I know God is where my spirit can find rest. I know God is where I can find hope and strength.
Yet, so often, I do not heed the Psalm’s words of wisdom nor my own learned wisdom from experience. I do the very thing the First Principle and Foundation warns against with the gifts of my life.
All the things in this world are gifts from God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God. (David L. Fleming, SJ, translation)
Often without me realizing it at first, something else besides God becomes the center of my life and the place or person within which I seek to find rest, strength, and hope. More often, something or someone else gets the center of my attention—an issue that I am dealing with, my responsibilities as a parent, the unending task list on my desk—and my time with God gets pushed to the wayside.
The gifts of my life, the people I love, the job I am honored to do, the responsibilities I am trusted with, end up taking precedence over my relationship with God. This is never intentional but slowly erodes my prayer life. The signs of displacing God as my center are obvious. They appear in the phrases I hear myself saying, “Why do I feel so tired? So cranky? So frazzled? So stressed? So overwhelmed?”
These questions are signs that I need to take my spiritual pulse. I need to assess my prayer life and take a serious look at what or who has become the center of my life. Is it God? Or is it one of the many gifts of my life?
The First Principle and Foundation suggests all of the gifts of my life help me to know God, but they are not to become gods in my life. As Psalm 62 reminds me, it is not through the gifts of my life that my soul is at rest, but through the giver of the gifts, God.
God alone is my rock. My hope is in God. For me to know this and live this, God needs to remain my center. The only way I know how to bring God back to my center is by intentionally showing up every day in prayer to be with God. It is through God alone that, despite all that is going on in my life, my soul can be at rest.
This is a new perspective for me. It never occurred to me that overly focusing on the gift can lead to a lesser focus on God, the Giver. So if we obsess on the gift it becomes too much about us. I learned through my spiritual director that obsession takes us away from our essence, God. The cliche of letting go and letting God is awesome in moments when actually achieved.
As I read this, this morning, I bring to mind all the gifts that God has blessed me with and am reminded to first of all thank Him for them,and then reflect on how I can use them today for His greater glory, that you
I find tremendous encouragement in your words
Thanks Becky, for reminding me of the dangers of prizing the gifts above the Giver. In God alone is my soul at rest. -Marcel
This is a powerful post and perfect for the Advent season. I often am caught up in the busyness of life and my God gets the back seat. The Giver of the gifts is neglected once more. God alone, suffices…
I go now to pray…
Thank you. Advent blessings to you and the family. Suzanne
It strikes me that you are making prayer work. And everything in your life is counted by you as a responsibility.
Perhaps if you turn some of them into joys, or, with prayer, into a gift you are giving yourself, it might make the day go by in an easier way.
Thank you so much for the clarity of your thoughts and insight today. What struck me especially, is how the “gifts” of my life get in the way of my God relationship. My energy and enthusiasm and focus displace my center, me rock. I don’t think I was ever really aware of that before, Becky. The references and reminders of what the gifts are for–to connect us the more to God–was helpful, too. Thank you.