As the world tilts, so many of us are trying to find our voice in conversation with God – to clear our throats and talk to Him. We wonder: how do I dialogue with Him, right here, in the fear and anxiety, the doubt and dread? Sara Hagerty tells us about talking to God in those middle minutes. In her book ADORE: A Simple Practice for Experiencing God in the Middle Minutes of Your Day, she writes about experiencing God in the unlikely minutes, right in the middle of the myriad of our thoughts, through adoration. It’s a grace to welcome Sara to the farm’s front porch today…
We returned from a post-Christmas celebration with family, across flat highways that stretched for hours, with new packages and memories of cousin fun. And influenza.
The first victim sat hunched in the back, moaning as she drifted in and out of sleep for our nine-hour road trip.
Within days, our home transitioned into an infirmary—mattresses strewn across the upstairs hallway in a haphazard attempt to quarantine patients in their rooms.
Then we all became patients.
There are two times of the year that I love most: September and January. Fresh starts, built into the calendar, send me buying new pens and journals for writing. I skip through my days with new intentionality despite the many years of Octobers and Februaries, the months when best intentions are laid to rest.
Six, then ten, then fourteen days into January—the flu worked its way through my family, rhythms, and new-year intentions. It rubbed me raw.
Except, my history of unexpected stretches of time afforded me this sense: there had to be more to the flu than a heightened water bill from all the laundered sheets and the cracked skin on my knuckles from washing my hands one hundred times a day.
January exposed my insides.
Temperatures sank, but God granted my heart the opportunity to stay afloat.
The long-trodden habit of adoration became instinctive for my heart. Out of habit, I recited His Word and thanked Him for being the one who renews (from Psalm 51:10) while I moved loads from washer to dryer.
Without much thought, my trips from one sick room to the next included less griping and more adoring.
Phrases from His Word popped into my mind, even ones (especially ones) that revealed a different side of Him than what I’d experienced in all these sickened weeks.
They alighted in my head as breathlike adorations, informing my experience more than what I saw in front of me.
I am prone to cynicism, bitterness, and comparison that makes enemies out of the best of friends when times get hard. But this time I didn’t take slow drags of bitterness. I didn’t sing and dance, but I more than barely survived.
God made me buoyant too.
The part of the story that made all the difference—and the part that continues to take the ordinary and pain-filled minutes and turn them into potential—is that I brought my emotions and my wrestling to the Word of God.
Read that again. It’s counterintuitive to us Christians.
I brought my emotions and my wrestling to God.
Circumstances are the gifts that unearth buried anger, fear, and insecurity.
And what we do with those emotions—in a single moment—determines our way, perhaps forever.
I felt the angst of having the flu turn January black and empty. I felt out of control, subject to the whims of this vaporous virus or the haunts of the enemy. (I didn’t know which.)
I felt angry with friends who started their year with the inertia that December 31 releases. I saw myself as invisible, running the infirmary for twelve, then fourteen, and finally twenty days out.
I had a history with those emotions. And in my history, I learned that the way to contain them was not to stifle them but to bring them to the only place—the only person—with an answer.
My adoration often, if not always, started with those emotions.
Like this: I feel alone and forgotten—by You and by my people. I mean, who has the flu, still, after this many days? I feel trapped in this house and overlooked.
But You see me. You saw me when I felt this way, tending to my dad in the last months of his life and sleeping in my parents’ basement as I stayed to relieve the load.
You saw me when I had a broken ankle and spent months inside behind glass, watching the unfurling of beauty outside.
You saw me in the months of incubation after our adoption, when no one knew what was happening under our roof.
Your eyes watched every minute. You held me with those eyes.
Not one of my minutes goes unwitnessed by You, God.
Your Word says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7–10).
So I adore You from this place. I feel unknown, alone, and tired, but You see me and respond.
Your hand leads me. Your right hand holds me. Yes, even though I might not feel it in this minute.
Adoration invites our entire history into the conversation with God.
Just as I bring all of myself—my fears, insecurities, profound testimonies of God’s movement, little-girl moments, and childhood dreams—into a new Bible study of which I’m a part or into a new friendship, I bring all of that into my conversation with God.
We dismiss starting where we are—in the muss of life and the swirling of our emotions—because our understanding of His willingness to engage with us where we are, and our history of having Him engage with us where we were (all the questions, insecurities, rampant fears that can course through a small person) is limited.
Adoration allows me to bring all of me—sighing, tears, frustrations, and anger—to Him and His Word and hope that I won’t walk away the same.
Adoration went before me, instinctually, during all those flu-filled days.
“The vulnerability of nakedness is the antithesis of shame,” Curt Thompson says in his book The Soul of Shame.
Bareness before God shows up in unexpected places, in the everyday chaos of life.
The flu, the squabble with our spouse, the child who melted down at the worst moment, the delayed but promised payment.
In the middle minutes.
Sara Hagerty and her husband Nate have more kids than you can count on one hand and have traveled across the ocean twice to grow their family. Most of her life is comprised of middle minutes; she has had to find God, there.
In her book ADORE: A Simple Practice for Experiencing God in the Middle Minutes of Your Day she walks readers through bringing the grit of your life to God, in His Word, and finding Him, right there. She asks readers, what if God wants to meet you, right here, in the middle of these thoughts? She gives us all permission to admit “I barely know You, God,” and with this honest admission, to scoot a little nearer to this familiar stranger. Adoration is the simple practice Sara discovered for starting where you are, and letting the grit of your day greet the beauty of God’s presence.
Join Sara in this soul-stirring journey through thirty attributes of God which you can walk through at your own pace. Learn how the simple habit of adoration–in the middle minutes of your day — can help you see God with fresh eyes, and talk to Him right there.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]