Devotions with Jane Austen

March 15, 2010

Living in an apartment may be economical, but it is not glamorous. This morning was no exception. At 6:00 am my husband and I were startled awake by a neighbor’s high-pitched, beeping alarm clock. I realize that is not early for most people, but we were both up past midnight last night finishing client projects. The time change over the weekend didn’t help our cause.

After that I couldn’t sleep. I have been coding so many different web projects lately that all I could think about were possible solutions to a particular challenge I had been working through the day before. I also couldn’t keep my nose from running. My husband came down with a cold last week, and we’ve both been sick for the last several days. So, I got up, swallowed down some a half-dose of children’s benadryl, followed it with orange juice, and sat down on my couch.

I have really been trying to take the messages at Cross Point to heart and re-organize my life around Jesus’ teachings for life. A specific change I know I need to make is getting back into a daily habit of connecting with God. I used to be really good at keeping that time sacred, but over the last few years, so many of life’s distractions have taken center stage. I’ve also done so many different kinds of Bible studies and devotions and discipleship programs that it can be hard to know where to start.

So I’ve decided to take the unorthodox route and read through The Book of Uncommon Prayer, a title I picked up in July of 2002 after completing my internship program. This morning I read passages by Jane Austen and followed it with reading from Ephesians 5. The guided devotions from The Book of Uncommon Prayer help me connect, while the Scripture reading helps me stay on track with the truth of God’s Word. I pray the entire time, which for me basically means talking to God about the things that I connect with most or am struggling with the most, and ways that I can continue to grow in Him.

Here’s a short excerpt from today’s reading, “On Each Return of Night,” by Jane Austen:

Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our hearts, as with our lips. Thou art every where present, from thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this teach us to fix our thoughts on thee, with reverence and devotion that we pray not in vain…

May we now, on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing thoughts, words, and actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of evil. Have we thought irreverently of thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our hearts these questions oh! God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity.

Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference…

I love these readings. They are so eloquent and sincere. They are written from the heart, in a way that I do not see much in post-modern literature. The most challenging portion of the reading was the examination of the heart and reflecting on the previous day. Yesterday was a rough one in the Wilcox household, mostly because I wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t feeling very patient. I don’t often feel like I have “sinned,” necessarily, but these words were a reminder of how errant our hearts can be. Did I willingly cause pain to someone yesterday? No, but I know that I made the day that much more difficult for Chris. He was so gracious in return, but that does not excuse my behavior.

These are just a few of the things I have been thinking about today. What in the passage above spoke the most to you?

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply