But when they sought [Saul], he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, ‘Did the man come here?’ and the Lord said, ‘See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’
Today is one of those days I do not like, full of bits and pieces that need to be attended to, a list of things that needs to be worked down; as opposed to a day where I have one or two things to focus on, to which I can give an extended chunk of time.
Days like today highlight what is in fact always the case, that prioritising is the key. As my friend Mark Carey recently observed, “prioritising brings us into stability that then makes us more effective.” And prioritising requires of us that we do not to allow those things that are most urgent to crowd out those things which are most important.
And so today, with a long ‘to do’ list looming, I deliberately took time for the Daily Office, the pattern of daily prayers and Bible readings within the Church of England. These prayers – embracing both a set structure repeated day after day, and within that content that changes from day to day – act as a path, well-worn over time, that allows God’s word to shape me, to shape my imagination, my values, my first thoughts in any given situation (where, left to my own devices, my first thoughts might be anything but godly).
I was particularly struck by one verse in the Old Testament reading, the account of the prophet Samuel presenting the people with the king they had demanded be appointed over them. Saul is chosen, but is nowhere to be found: God alone sees him, hiding among the baggage.
There is plenty of baggage that we choose to hide ourselves in – our past, so often an excuse to us; our mistakes, especially those we refuse to let go of, because sometimes being in the wrong feels good, in the short-term at least – our busyness...
Today, it would be easy to plough on into busyness, to hide myself from God’s face, to hide myself from his call on my life, just in order to fulfil the many and immediate calls upon my time...But today, I believe that I am strengthened to more effectively address those tasks, because of the stability that has been secured through taking the time to clear aside the surface and dig down into the Rock on which I stand.
Lord, today may I know your strengthening hand upon me, as I step up to the challenges that lie ahead. May you be the shield that protects me; and the bow that secures victory in every struggle I will face; for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now, and only now, I am off to attend to things more urgent, and less important.