I sat down to lunch this afternoon, and, as usual, said grace before starting. And, as frequently happens, at home especially, grace became more of an all-out mini-prayer, as I rapidly went over my thoughts and behaviour so far this day.
I was praying earnestly, in fact aloud; when I was done and looked up, I saw two men getting into their pickup truck which was parked outside my house. They were looking at me through my house window as they got in, doubtless having observed me the entire time. They would have known I was praying, because my head had been bowed and resting against my two clasped hands.
And for like, 3 seconds, I felt sort of.. abashed.. it was like I was sort of embarrassed to have been seen praying earnestly like that, as though somehow my vulnerability in my regular everyday life had been witnessed by outsiders.
And then almost immediately I rebuked myself for my foolishness. "The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower" (Ps 18:2)"; I'm so thankful for the gift of faith, I'm so thankful for His presence in my life, I need His help and guidance continually -- why should I care, even for a moment, what people think?
It got me thinking on how I used to be about saying grace when I was younger. At home I was made to say grace aloud for everyone, which was such a trial for shy, introverted me. I'd shoot off the set, never-changing words as quickly as I could. Outside in public, I'd sort of stare blankly at my food and mutter those same unchanging words in a rapid mental whisper. Sometimes I'd forget to say grace completely.
I don't think I put much thought into what I was saying beyond just making my head form the words; certainly sincere thankfulness was sorely lacking. That was when I wasn't really caring about my walk with God. And so I wasn't continually, acutely aware of his goodness and grace in my life.
But now I definitely am. I couldn't get started on eating anything without thanking Him for it -- our meals are such a tangible representation of God's daily providence and beneficence; they are such a concrete reminder of how blessed we are.
Now I say grace -- at home or out -- with my whole heart and soul; I close my eyes and take as long as necessary to thank God and talk to Him about anything I should pay attention to in my thoughts and behaviour so far. Of course I don't take forever, but I certainly don't just rattle off some set "grace formula".
I make the kids take grace seriously too, and I don't care how hungry they are, or how many people are around us -- they've got to bow their heads and thank God first. I never want them to ever take their blessings, or the fact that their basic needs are so well met, or even the fact that their Daddy has a good job, for granted. How very very blessed we are to have food and drink so readily and easily available, and that we live in such freedom and peace that we can openly thank God for it!
"But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit;
Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) -- [which will bring you] unto life eternal" (Jude 1:20-21).