First Things First

First things first.

That’s what I asked my daughter Page to hand-letter in gold on the front of a new, black moleskin notebook.

She's good at it and is getting many requests to put fancy words on important things. It’s more likely the canvases aren’t important in themselves, but become so once adorned with the art of choice words in beautiful script.

I am using the notebook as a Bible journal to record thoughts, ideas, insights, questions, and more. I started at the beginning. Literally. I opened to Genesis and just started. In the beginning...

I wish I had dated that first journal entry. I wish I could know how far I’ve come. Not because I’m proud of my progress, because I am going slow. I am going very slow. I wrote on page 39 in the journal this morning the title of “Chapter 9 - Covenant of the Rainbow.” That’s right. It’s taken me a long time to only get to the ninth chapter of the first book of Scripture. As I said, I’m going slow.

I am usually not a patient person, especially in this type of endeavor. I want to know. I want to know it all. I want to know it now. I’m anxious to move ahead. If I don’t, I’m not making progress. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Not if it’s progress for the sake of progress.

I’m so very grateful I am taking this lingering approach. I don’t want to move. I want to dwell. Yes. Dwell. I want to savor what God has given, and I don’t want to miss a thing. Nothing.

As I reflect, I am saddened by my past years. I regret that I’ve hurried through beauty and goodness and truth. Moved so fast that I’ve missed so much. I long to trade strife, neglect, and shame for wonder, awe, and holiness. And just dwell there.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Oh, I have said those words from Psalm 37 to myself over and over as of late.

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

Those promises urge trusting, doing, dwelling, delighting, committing, resting, and waiting patiently. The passage also commands no fretting. A simple, slow reading of Genesis has led me well Copied words and notations from Psalms, Revelation, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Romans, Numbers, Exodus, and Jeremiah have also made it into the black notebook with gold lettering. And I’m only in the middle of chapter 9 of the beginning of things.

To dwell is to worship. That is what this slow study of Genesis is bubbling up in me. I’m astounded at the enormity of what can be missed in Scripture if I’m not intent on dwelling. It is so much more than the halfhearted, absentminded perusal I give it when in a rush. It’s rich and beautiful and worth the giving of my time and slow attention.

This blog piece is not well written. It’s disordered and not what I want to write. But I have to get it out, as unwell as it is. Winsome writing takes practice, and I am out of practice at this writing gig in the current season of my life. What I once did daily for a wage is now scattered amongst other things, some of which are of lesser urgency than my putting pen to paper.

I can’t wait to get in more practice, to get better. I want this to be a habit again, not something I must continually renew. As God would divinely have it, I have a greater opportunity to go deep with words as my son Graham and I soon embark on a more practical practice of writing in our homeschool. I’m grateful for this season and what it is bringing.

Yes, I need practice. I need practice to rightly order my life, my activities, plans, loves, desires, affections, duties.

First things first.

It’s all going to take practice, and practice makes permanent.