A beautiful woman sat across the table from me every week throughout our study on the Book of James. I spied on her, sneaking glances over the top of my workbook as she tilted her head and flipped through the Scriptures with carefree ease. It was as if she could find Ezra as easily as Genesis. I noticed that she had one of those fancy new Bibles with QR-codes on the pages.
Plus, she’s got great hair. And a gorgeous smile. And I’m tempted to be a little jealous.
The Good Book says Moses came down from the mountain with a shiny face, because he had been in the presence of God. Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that sort of thing still happens in 2014. If you took one look at this woman, you’d believe it, too. You can’t buy that look at the Clinique counter.
This woman wears her love for Scripture on her face, and let me tell you: she lights up an Iowa country church’s fellowship-hall when she starts talking about the Lord.
I rested my chin on my hands and thought to myself: I want me some of that.
Someone read a passage from 1 Peter, and then, she put her hands flat down on her Bible, and gasped out loud, as if this was the first time she’d ever read such a beautiful thing in all her ever-lovin’ life.
Even though – and I’m not exaggerating here – it was probably the 651st time she had read it.
Just so you know, she’s been at this Bible-reading thing awhile. Did I mention that this beauty queen is 91 years old?
(She’s got that high-tech Bible because she’s worn out so many of her other Bibles.)
Almarie’s countenance changed, though, when we began discussing a certain passage that tells us that without deeds, our faith is dead, flat-lined, lifeless, pushing up daisies.
The sparkle in her eyes faded, and the corners of her mouth drooped a bit. What could a 91-year-old lady in an assisted-living complex practically do? she asked.
We could tell she felt a bit frustrated, so we reached across the table with our words and our hands to assure her: You have been, and continue to live a life of intention — right where you are.
It’s easy for any of us to believe otherwise. Isn’t it?
Isn’t there an Almarie in each of us? We’re looking across tables, even at Bible studies, comparing notes and assuming that everyone else has got this whole thing about life on Planet Earth figured out. The culture is hawking the idea that “living intentionally” means making a name for yourself, climbing higher, adding another line to the resume. We might think it means seeing our names on the Great Big Book of Who’s Who.
We get things even more twisted up, thinking that’s what God wants of us, too. Like He’s tallying up our “success” on a dry-erase board in the Throne Room. Like it’s all some big contest.
Living intentionally can’t be measured by scorecards. Or good deeds. Or by the ladder rungs beneath our feet.
It’s like what Tsh says:
Sometimes the hardest thing we can do … is to stop DOING so much. Our culture places great value on our busy-ness, like our worth lies somewhere between the lines of our calendar boxes.
Living intentionally means FIRST knowing that my worth isn’t tied to my deeds, or my chaotic schedule, my grand to-do list, my tally of works, or my right to tell people, “It’s been a busy week.”
Living intentionally begins with listening for the call of God on your one beautiful life. Living intentionally means laying down our own agendas — trading our “to-do lists” for more “to-be lists.”
Almarie knew that. She’s lived that. But that night at Bible study, she needed a few girlfriends to remind her. (Don’t we all?)
A few minutes later, Almarie told us about what happens at 3:30 a.m. Every. Single. Night. The sparkle returned to her eyes as she spoke:
“The Lord wakes me up. Every night, He wakes me up. When I go to bed at night, I am so happy because I know He’s going to wake me up at 3:30.”
When God rings, Almarie answers. She gets out of bed, picks up her Bible, walks to her easy-chair and starts reading where she left off the night before. She reads, and she prays. For a whole hour.
“The Lord brings people’s names to mind as I’m reading,” she said. “I know when I’m done, after about an hour, because I feel such a peace come over me.” She shook her head, like she didn’t quite know how else to describe such a holy encounter.
“And then I go right back to bed, and I don’t wake up ’til morning.”
Intentional. Beautiful. Holy.
This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of.
To learn more and join us, head here.
Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.