The Practice of Beholding: Looking for a New Thing That God Is Doing
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
I remember vividly a few years ago when I was introduced to a concept called grounding in a counseling session. I was recalling a harder part of my story, and my therapist could tell I was drifting a little too far back into it.
She used grounding to call me back into my present surroundings by asking me to name five things I saw in the room. I was reluctant at first. It felt silly, but as I started to call out five physical objects in my line of sight, without realizing it, I found myself back in the present moment and, much to my surprise, at peace.
At the core, this exercise utilizes our senses to perceive what is happening around us. As much as that can work to ground us, how much more can our awareness that God is in our midst at all times change the way that we see? The reality is that we are living our lives one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. If you’re like me, you could get a degree in replaying the past or working overtime to protect against the possible outcomes of the future. But what does that add to our lives?
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself had something to say about that. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” He goes on to tell us to look at the birds (Matthew 6:26) and consider the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:28). Like all of the best things in life, this concept of grounding looks to be borrowed from Jesus. This is a cure for anxiety. In the moments when our minds are wandering, Jesus calls us out of the shame of the past and the worry of the future into the present moment.
Do you not perceive it?
I have read this chapter more times than I can count, but this question only recently convicted me. One definition of the word behold is “to gaze upon.” My mind immediately drifts to one of my favorite Psalms.
“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and inquire in his temple.”
I have been instilling this practice of beholding this year. Each day, I’m looking for a new thing that God is doing. After the past two years that we have been through, I have been desperate to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. I hear it in the sound of my daughter’s sweet voice, see it in the burnt orange sunset after a storm, and taste it in my first sip of coffee. In those moments, nothing else matters but the present, and I find myself worshiping the creator of it all.
I wonder where you find yourself right now? Are you somebody who drifts from the present moment back into the past or off into the future? When is the last time you can remember gazing upon the beauty of the Lord? I heard one author call it savoring, using our God-given senses to enjoy the world He has created. Or to put it in the words of Isaiah. “Behold I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it?”
In His Word
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” Psalm 27:13 (ESV)
In Your Life
On January 1st, I wrote this question in my journal.
God, what new thing are you going to do today?
I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has kept me grounded in the daily goodness of God. Today I encourage you to do the same. Consider writing it down, and as you move throughout your day, look for it. I pray that God surprises you with His kindness in what He reveals.
One recent book that I have recently read is The Soul of Desire by Curt Thompson. In this book, he talks about how our desires and beauty go hand in hand. Dr. Thompson marries the truth of God’s word and his years as a clinical psychiatrist to bring us profound and practical insight on how to see underneath our longings, and ultimately create something meaningful in our families and communities.
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