It is so easy to slip into the pattern of treating a loved one very functionally in terms of a role he fulfills, or the chores for which she is responsible. When living in that mode our conversations with the other person tend to be more logistical than personal, and more focused on getting things done than with enjoying one another’s company. But we also know how suddenly our perspective can shift.
A man took his wife of many years on a “date” to a quiet restaurant. It was a special occasion, so they chose a relaxing setting. Their window table overlooked a beautiful garden. Romantic music played in the background. The meal was delicious and they took their time. As they relaxed and talked he gradually became aware that he was no longer looking at his wife, but was actually seeing her. He noticed how her mouth always looked on the verge of a smile, her soft eyes sparkled with life and intelligence, and her personality was etched into those fine, almost invisible, wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. He was taking the time to notice, appreciate, and treasure her presence. He remembered how much they’d been through, the challenges they’d faced as well as all the joys they shared. He realized afresh how much he loved her. And when they rose to leave the restaurant they were both surprised to discover that they had been sitting there for over two hours! Sometime during the course of the evening, supper had turned into an experience of communion. Immersing themselves in the experience of being together that evening had renewed them both.
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Someone once defined contemplation as a “long and loving look at another.” It is a good definition and keeps us from thinking of it as only a tool to use or technique to master, otherwise we would be preoccupied with the methods, rather than focused on the person of Jesus Christ, and on upon our relationship of love. Take time to gaze lovingly at your Lord today.
Sweet Savior, how can I say that I long for You when I don’t take the time to fully look into Your eyes? You are my constant companion, yet I am not always walking in complete awareness of our relationship. One more busy moment, hour or day is always placing distance between us. Help me to turn my face towards Yours, Lord God, so that my soul might be refreshed through a renewed desire to dwell in Your presence.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 33, Contemplative Prayer by Reg Johnson). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God as the one who lifts your soul up from the depths of despair and discouragement (Ps. 42:5). Thank him for being your Savior and your God. Confess those times when you’ve chosen not to allow God to wipe away the tears of distress. Commit yourself to praising God every day for his tender mercies. Ask God to keep you from becoming downcast in your soul.
Ask God to cause many around the world today to “put their hope in God” (Psalm 42:5) and thus be able to confess with believers in every land “my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
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