Just sitting there

Updated: Jul 23

Do you have a devotional routine?


Me? I have several. In the mornings I read through various Christian books, a few pages at a time. Following this simple routine, which I started a few years ago, I’ve been able to read a collection of Hermann Sasse’s sermons, Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus by Fleming Rutledge, and a biography of Augustine of Hippo. I’m currently reading Christian Hope Among Rivals, a gift from my brother Brad.


In the evening, after supper, Alaine, Jenny, and I read from Daily Devotions, a compilation from 75 years of Portals of Prayer. Alaine and I end our day by reading from Seasons of Reflection, a one-year devotional Bible.


There is no one devotional method that fits all. There are many different types we can experiment with until finding one that suits us. Still, we can learn from others, adapting their practice and making it our own. A book I read several years ago told of a most unusual approach that intrigued me enough so that I gave it a try myself.


In Grace upon Grace: Spirituality for Today, Australian Lutheran pastor and seminary professor John Kleinig writes:


Jean-Baptiste Vianney was a Catholic priest who lived in France in the early nineteenth century. After a rather unpromising course of study at a seminary, he was placed in a small village where the church had almost been destroyed by the ravages of the French revolution. On arrival, he discovered that, apart from some old women, the most regular member was a young farmer in his thirties. Jean-Baptiste noticed that the young man would come into church every morning and sit there for a while in front of the statue of Jesus before he set out for work. The puzzling thing was the farmer didn't appear to perform the usual devotional exercises. In fact, it looked as if he was just sitting there, doing nothing. Eventually Jean-Baptiste plucked up courage and asked the young farmer what he did every morning. He answered: "Nothing much! I look at Jesus, and He looks at me, and we are happy just to be together."


From time to time, I’ve used the young farmer’s devotional approach, including earlier today. I went into the church sanctuary and just sat there, silently. After a few moments I began to pray. I thanked God for the gift of rest that He gives me as I meditated on several Scriptural passages:


Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him (Psalm 62:5)


My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him (Psalm 62:1)


At that time Jesus said…, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:25-29).


Andrew Li published on Unsplash

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