Wherever You May Be: on rhythms when there is no routine

disorganized planner


“…You must never eat any fat or blood. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.”

Leviticus 3:17 (NLT)

NKJV says it: “in all of your dwellings.”

Amplified Version translates it: “wherever you may be.”

I realized as I read this, three chapters after the close of Exodus, that the Israelites were not yet home. They had escaped Egypt, but would not settle for decades to come. And yet, God did not wait until they were all moved in to set out guidance for how they should live.

Walking away from the polytheism of Egypt, they still had a lot to learn about the one, true God and how to interact with Him. God decided these were not lessons for later. Right there, in the sandy shadow of Mt. Sinai, He gave them rules for wherever they may be.

They were more than a century away from erecting the Temple, so God told them to make Him a holy tent and taught them how to worship Him while camping out in the desert. He did not standby until they had a routine down that He could “fit into.” He explained how Israel should approach Him, honor Him, and follow His laws for their lives while they camped, right where they were.

These were guidelines that would hold both in the land they would someday call their own and in the upheaval of travel while they picked their food from the ground and made do with homes of canvas. They did not have to learn a whole new set of policies and scrap the old rule book when they entered new territory.

The worship of the living God is not a rhythm only for stable lives and steady routines. It is an essential anchor for wherever I may be: a temple for the city and a tent for the wandering, but not something I leave behind until I have life figured out.  It is something I pack up and take with me, for I will need it wherever I am; no matter how predictable or up-in-the-air things are that day.

Lord –

You gave Israel tent pegs and anchor points that held regardless of the situation, because they were going to see a LOT of change in the coming years. Here was your reminder that in all the transition, you would always remain the same. Wherever they landed at night, whatever they were walking through, your rules didn’t change and neither did your invitation to come and worship and find you ever steady.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure I can handle the fact that the fence next door is changing. Talking to my neighbor, I had to consciously breathe slow and remind myself everything would be okay even though I liked the wood fence better.

It just doesn’t take a whole lot to throw me off, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to face transitions. Big or small, no matter how many times I’ve gone through them before, they always throw me. It’s overwhelming to think of all the changes that still lie ahead for us: new homes, new jobs, new people, new culture, new language…new fences.

How important it is for me to hold on tight to the steady, daily rhythm of time before the unchanging One.

Lord, be ever steady for me. I so need something not to change. And remind me that I don’t have to wait until I get my bearings to know exactly where you are.

“…be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear…

Hebrews 13:5-6





Never Forget the Salt: sorely needed reminders for the forgetful soul


“Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.”

Leviticus 2:13


Never forget to add salt. Why? Did God taste the difference?

It seemed like a strange command to me, so I dug a little deeper and was intrigued with the cultural parallel. Apparently, it was a thing to “share salt” with another person. AKA, a shared meal was a pact of loyalty, and there was a level of trust established once people had eaten together.

An oriental considers as sacred the expression “bread and salt.” When it is said, “There is bread and salt between us,” it is the same as saying, “We are bound together by a solemn covenant.” A foe will not “taste the salt” of his adversary unless he is ready to be reconciled to him.

-Fred H. Wright, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands

Perhaps this is why the older brother remained outside when his father threw a feast for the Prodigal Son. A meal together meant friendship. Shared salt meant you were on the same side. And here in Leviticus, God drew this symbol of hospitality, loyalty and peace into Isreal’s worship.

The Amplified version says it this way:  You shall season every grain offering with salt so that the salt (preservation) of the covenant of your God will not be missing from your grain offering.”

So God and Israel “shared salt” with each grain offering and He told his people to never forget the salt when they came to Him. It was a tactile memorial of their agreement, as grain by grain, they were prompted to remember His promises and keep them close.

I think what I noticed most was the word never. It carries the tone of warning, of heaviness, of grave importance.

“Never forget to add salt.”

NKJV reads: “You shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking…with all of your offerings you shall add salt.”

In other words: Do this every single time. Never bring an offering to me and leave out the reminder of what I have offered you. Worship. Thank. Confess. Sacrifice. Surrender. Pray. Do all of these, yes. But Remember most of all. Come to me and sprinkle the symbol of my covenant with you into every interaction. Do not, in your rituals, forget who I am and what I have promised.

Never forget the salt.



How much of my interaction with you is steering my mind back to the salt? How often do I become concerned, frustrated, and stressed because I have lost sight of who you are and what you have promised me?

Like the presence of salt in a meal, a mindfulness of your promises changes the whole experience. It’s not a good idea to leave it out.

Israel was given a covenant: obey and God would bless them, disobey and He would curse them. But I have been given “a far better covenant.” (Hebrews 8:6) I am not just one of your own people, I am your own child: made righteous, wholly loved, given power, offered rest, called to purpose, washed clean, held safe.

How much more important it is that I never forget the salt?

Remind me today, Lord, in all my tasks and interactions, to come before you often, and to keep close in mind who you are and all you have promised me. It is the savory flavor of hope to my soul.


Here’s to Thorns: on weaknesses, issues, and mountaintops


“I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment  me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ “

2 Corinthians 12:7-9


Why does God’s power work best in weakness? Because the weak accept His help.

Why allow a tormenting burden on Paul, a servant who was so ready to obey God, when it holds him back from what he could do? Because holding us back from what would feed our pride is not holding us back at all.

I tend to think “If only…”

If only I wasn’t chubby, or consumed with crippling insecurity. If only I didn’t overthink everything. If only I glided through life smoothly instead of catching corners with my shoulders and doorknobs with my hips. If only I could make it across a room or a conversation without stumbling like an awkward baby deer. Imagine what a person without my issues could do with my gifting!

But we, none of us, get to be just our gifts without our issues. And maybe that’s the whole point, because the focus would so quickly become the person and what they could do, instead of our God and what He can do.

Oh Lord-

am held back by the constant negative stream of thought, by the assumption that I bring more burden than joy to people, by clumsy hands that drop and break and shake, by allergies, by a tendency to ramble, and by the terror that I might be that person who obligates others to politely listen when I think I’m offering something helpful, something that moves them.

But Lord, you are not held back by any of these things.

All weaknesses and issues and thorns do is prevent me from plunging ahead by myself. There is no place they hold me back from if I have help. It is a good design, so that I do not reach summits alone and gaze back at my own hard work; I kneel on mountaintops before you and thank you for carrying  me here.

Teach me to bring my limits to you, and look for how you will show your strength.  Teach me to embrace the whole person you made me, rather than obsess over the things I wish were different. Lord, you have loved me by allowing ever-present reminders of my need for you. They are safeguards against the pride that poisons and isolates and pushes away the help I am desperate for.

So here’s to thorns. Even you wore them.


“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

I am not a Fifty: on distraction, comparison, and love

beka looking out

We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love…We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us…”

2 Corinthians 6:6,8


Have you ever paid for groceries with a fifty dollar bill? You know how the person running the check-out will pause, pull out the marker with the magic-test-my-cash-to-see-if-I’m-counterfeiting ink, hold the bill up to the light and then nod and move on?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I go through life holding myself up to other people’s reactions, the way the grocer squints at a fifty dollar bill against the florescents. He holds it up to see if it’s any good. And I hold myself that way, too.

People have no idea. They’re just out there reacting to life, thinking about how tired they are and how far away is the coffee? Or maybe it’s the oil change the car needs or the late mortgage payment. They are totally unaware that I’m reading into every facial expression, every word, and asking the silent question: Am I any good?

I know this. I KNOW this. And yet I forget that they’re probably distracted with their own stuff and I decide they’re reacting to me. Good or bad, I read their responses as an authenticity check. Am I the real thing? Am I any good? What a minefield for my security.

Even if they do give a sour reaction that’s specific to something I did or said, how often is that an accurate gauge on which I should base my life from that moment forward?

For years I have been trying to figure out how a sensitive person like me, who probably isn’t going to just stop being quite so sensitive, (believe me, I’m a flight medic, I’ve tried), can learn to ignore the constant distraction of what other people think.

Here’s the answer I got in this verse: Don’t serve them. Do serve Him.

Serving God produces in me all sorts of proof. But I must serve Him, not an image that’s impossible to keep up, not someone else’s idea of what it is to be good, or I will always be off-course, reaching, grasping at air, insecure, unsteady, X-ray-ing myself by the flourescents, just to be sure.

But if I set aside how I look to others and focus on Him, on just serving and obeying Him, His spirit in me shows me how to offer purity, understanding, patience, kindness and sincere love.

He doesn’t just shut down my reactions so that I will behave right. He transforms ME so that I am totally sincere and what I say is still loving, what I do is still kind.

Hold that kind of life up to any light, and it’s gorgeous.

So what about the here and now? Where, if I was sincere, I’d tell you that I quickly run out of understanding and patience, that a ten-minute off-kilter interaction can be under my skin for days, and that I find myself living under the rule of other people’s reactions all the time, desperate for their approval, easily hurt, easily angered.

I must learn that where my understanding, patience, kindness and love run dry with so little provocation, HIS DOES NOT RUN OUT. His love keeps pace with the hurt, His strength rises to meet the challenge, His welcome overturns the rejection.

No matter what the day holds, I think the most challenging thing about it is the people, but I do not have to offer myself up for their opinion. I am not a fifty dollar bill. I am the real deal: a channel through which He gives his love freely and sincerely, a small person through whom a big God proves Himself, and IT IS NOT ABOUT ME, it is about Him. So I can set aside the agony, the scrutiny, and the comparison. No one compares to Him.

Oh Lord-

Help me to serve you, to be sincere, and to offer kindness again and again.

Help me to know I can just break down and ask you for help when I’m struggling. You never said I would get it perfect. You said your grace would be sufficient for my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Live through  me so that people see you. Help me to be secure in you, steadied by you. When I measure myself by the reactions of others, I am in constant limbo. When I compare myself to others, I forfeit whatever emotional margin I had to offer them. Comparison poisons compassion. And you never said I had to be like them or liked by them, you said to love them.

Help me choose to be led by you, not controlled by others, so that I can take the hits and still offer sincere love.

Help me see that I am no fifty.

I am your work.



“Take our comparison and give us compassion, for others as well as for ourselves.”

-Emily P Freeman, Simply Tuesday