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Sheets of rain pelted the windshield Friday while I was driving home from work. The wipers could barely keep up. I gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles were white, trying to navigate the slick, muddy road.

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I traveled this road every weekday, and yet I didn’t recognize the landscape. The wall of rain obscured my vision. Out of nowhere, a bold, red stop sign appeared! Rather than hitting my brakes and skidding dangerously in the muddy mess, I tapped the brakes lightly…slowing, slowing, and then rolled through the stop sign. Checking my rearview mirror, I expected to see nothing but a continuous gray-brown blur of rain and mud. Instead I saw bright, flashing blue lights…

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The rain continued into Monday – and so did my bad luck –  making the errands I was running for work oh, so unpleasant. I raced out of the warm, dry office, in a hurry to get  back as soon as possible. Rushing down a quiet side road, I checked my rearview mirror. Tears stung my eyes. Flashing blue lights – for the second time in three days! What is the problem? There’s no stop sign. This road is just a quick short cut. Quick. Oh, QUICK…oh, NO!

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A few days later, fretting over the amount I would be paying for the tickets, I felt the Lord gently nudge me.

“Ellen, there’s a lesson to be learned here.”

“Um, Lord, do You mean OTHER than the obvious one of not running stop signs and speeding?? Cause I got that. I’m stopping. I’m slowing. Got it.”

“Ellen, when you spend time with Me each morning, do you just roll through the scriptures? Do you speed through your prayer time with Me?”

“Ummm yes, Sir. Many times I do…”

In her book “Your Beautiful Purpose,” Susie Larson says “Have you ever found yourself going through the motions in your prayers? Saying one thing while thinking about another? I know I have. I have so much scripture stored up in my soul from years of praying God’s Word, I can instinctively pray Scripture with my mouth and run through my grocery list in my mind. And this is not a virtue!”

Are you present in His presence?

Like Susie, there are times that I am just going through the motions.  However, through the traffic ticket fiasco, the Lord impressed a few things on my heart to help keep me focused. I hope they will help you, too!

  • STOP each day and spend time with the Lord. Pause long enough to consider Whose presence you are in, and Who it is you are praying to. Be fully available to Him.
  • STOP if a passage touches you or quickens your spirit. Read the passage again…and again. Ask yourself “Why did this Scripture have an impact on me?” Let His words sink in.
  • SLOW DOWN and see if the Scripture that stirred your heart is one you need to pray, perhaps for a friend or family member.
  • SLOW DOWN, don’t speed through your prayers.  Enjoy your time with the King of Kings. Don’t just check it off your to-do list.
  • LISTEN to what God is saying to you through His Word.

Am I always successful at this? No! But I am more aware. And what if I find my mind wandering? I stop, slow down, and become present in His presence.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

Photos by John Chauvin

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