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Ordinary People. Extraordinary Habits.

What we choose daily is what we glorify.

I had a disorienting holiday season, but it taught me how to simplify around God. I wonder, might you want that too?

You see, I had mapped out 21 days of plans, menus, adventures, gatherings, and gifts. Twenty-one days of JOY!

And then, life rerouted me.

In my case, “life” came through health setbacks that isolated me. That canceled my plans.

I found myself in a foreign kind of place. I could mourn the wonderful Holiday Plan I’d maybe almost worshiped. Or I could ask God to show me simpler, holy days.

Just so, Daniel found himself in an unexpected place, living in Plan B in Babylon, where he was exiled. Daniel’s story has taught me more about simplifying my own around God. (See Daniel 1:1-8a).

Daniel and his friends found themselves in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Not only did the king give Daniel and his friends the king’s food, but he also gave them his gods’ names. He literally renamed them to glorify Babylon’s gods rather than the Hebrew God! Daniel could sniff out something at stake here: Who he belonged to.

Just so, my sickness also instructed me. I could grieve that I couldn’t hug “my people” (even family who traveled from England). Or I could focus on whose child I am and will ever be.

Being raised knowing God’s word, Daniel knew God wanted a people of His own; a people called out to represent Him, a people blessed to be a blessing.

From reading God’s word, I knew God highlights his hesed (lovingkindness), in spite of heartbreak. So, in the heartbreak of holiday loneliness, I pondered how to find God’s love.

In this foreign land full of foreign gods, Daniel’s battle wasn’t about living God’s law perfectly. By virtue of being exiled, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of laws that would be impossible to follow. No, it was about bringing glory to God amidst a culture that worshiped other gods. Even when pressured to stop worshiping his God, Daniel simply prayed at appointed times each day.

With my perfect plan gone pitiably, my battle wasn’t to pretend I was happy-dappy. I said, “I’m sad. But God, show me you.” By facing sadness, I steeped in God. And when people asked how I was doing, I could give an honest, honoring word about God.

Next week we’ll talk about Daniel fasting. But for now, I want to learn from him how simplifying our schedules around God blesses us and others.

Daniel trusted the God who can use any stinky situation, any Plan B for Babylon, any heartbreak for healing.

Being in exile from our homeland can startle us with simplicity. And it is transforming my 2022. Here’s what I wrote on my New Year’s Facebook post:

So, how might we choose simplicity?

For me, my ongoing isolation gave me time to think and to—like Daniel—choose simple prayer practices. While this might just be God’s answer for me alone, here are my 2022 aims:

  1. Love God more in body, mind, soul, and spirit by pausing in prayer 3x/day as I move.
    • Mornings – I journal and exercise
    • Dusk – I listen to the Bible and walk
    • Bedtime – I stretch and pray.
  2. Love others more by praying for two people each day.

Well, if Jesus could disciple 12, maybe I shouldn’t aim higher! I’m praying for my 12, 2 people a day, six days a week, and asking God how to love them well.

That’s it. That’s my simplicity for 2022. That’s my ordinary schedule habit.

It’s not built around plans that can flounder. It’s built around the God who lasts.

It isn’t about me. There’s no number on the scale or size of smaller jeans, no book I’m writing with my name on it, no business target I must hit to be a success. It centers on God.

And, because this habit simply wraps my schedule around our extraordinary unfailing God, I have never been more excited.

Oh, and my recipe for this week? Well, I’m going to point you to my favorite timesaving “food hack”: seasonings. How often do you read a recipe for salt, pepper, and garlic? A lot, right? I found a favorite seasoning with all 3 in one mix, and I use it almost daily. It’s yummy with foods from scrambled eggs to fish to chicken to sauteed greens to Caesar salad. And easy. I can make dinner in a jiffy, which makes me feel less hurried while I’m out praying and listening to God’s word at dusk.