Sunrise and Sanity: Coram Deo

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase translated “in the presence of God” from Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God.

This past year in particular, God has been very gracious to oh-so-gently reveal to me the depth and extent of my remaining unbelief, an ongoing failure to trust Jesus that shows up in the form of needless worry and inexplicable anxiety. Christ calls us to peace (John 14:27), tells us not to worry about anything (Matthew 6:25-34) and reassures us that He will be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). So, yeah…how are you doing with taking those Jesus-spoken promises to heart? For me, all too often, my answer “depends on the day.”

But at least I now know that it doesn’t have to.

Like you, perhaps, I’ve met many Christians who have “a settled peace” about them. It’s more than a little unnerving, to be honest. I’ve always admired the tremendous faith of others as they seem to endure everyday stressors – and even major life trauma – with a kind, ready smile and a reassurance that God is ultimately in control, whether we perceive His will as “good” or “bad” being entirely beside the point. Life flows from Him (John 4:14) – or it ceases to flow according to His divine purpose (Jeremiah 13:16). He is not asking us to change the course of human history; His Son has already taken care of that. He is simply inviting us to join our lives to what He is already doing, and what He will without doubt ultimately accomplish at the end of the age (Matthew 16:18).

Reinhold Niebuhr in 1956

Reinhold Niebuhr in 1956

For many of us, tension and anxiety creep into our hearts when we begin to doubt that the world and everything in it is ultimately in the hands of the living God. The next step down the spiral staircase to insanity is to “reason” from that doubt to the “truth” that far more depends on me than actually does, when in actuality 99% of life (probably more) is entirely outside my control. And truthfully, God help us all if the future is entirely in my hands!

Plopped down into the center of doubt and fear-fueled anxiety, it helps me immeasurable to know that my entire life, even my internal life of thought, is under the careful gaze of a God Who actually loves me and everyone else. It also helps to start each day by reflecting on what sanity ought to look like.

The earliest known form of The Serenity Prayer by American theologian, ethicist, intellectual and professor Reinhold Niebuhr appeared in 1937. Over time, Niebuhr’s prayer was adapted for use in group recovery settings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and so forth. The Mayer household features a printed version of Niebuhr’s prayer over our kitchen sink and, as the years have gone by, the words have begun to penetrate my heart. When anxiety threatens to overwhelm – assuming I am sufficiently self-aware to name the problem – Niebuhr’s prayer becomes my own when I offer it up to God alongside the particulars of my life:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Lord, there are so many horrible and evil things in this world, so many things in my own life that are not the way they ought to be! Where do I start? How do I know which fire to put out first? How can this cruel, violent world possibly be awakened to greater faith, hope and love?

the courage to change the things I can,
Lord, which “plow” do I put my hand to today? There are so many things that need fixing that I feel as though I might drown. Of all the good things I could do with this day, will You be gracious enough to show me which are the very best, those that most accord with Your will?

and the wisdom to know the difference.
Jesus, I am a stubborn fool. My own emotions run riot in my heart and cloud my ability to know much of anything. My own heart is often a mystery to me, how in the heck am I going to know what it is I am supposed to do apart from You revealing it to me?

Living one day at a time,
Lord, I accept the truth that I could die at any moment, and that every breath I take and every beat of my heart is a crazy, over-the-top gift of Your grace. Help me to live into that truth such that I might “wake up” to the here and now.

enjoying one moment at a time,
Father God, help me to embrace the joy you have set before us such that I live a life that reflects your Kingdom; please don’t let me get so muddled up that I walk around with an ever-present rain cloud over my head, one more “grumpy, uptight Christian” who causes others to bolt from You.

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.
Lord, I confess that I would much rather learn Your ways through a correspondence course, or by reading a book, and yet I relinquish my desire for a pain-free life to Your far-better plan of making me walk through severe trials as the only, most-merciful means of transformation.

Taking, as Jesus did,
In everything I do, Father, help me to model the life and ministry of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

this sinful world as it is,
You have not condemned the world, neither should I spend all my time and energy hurling judgment at others, even as they violate Your true shalom.

not as I would have it.
Lord, I am grateful that You have a plan for Heaven and Earth, that Your plan looks nothing like my plan, and that You will one day bring healing and full restoration beyond anything I could ever imagine.

Trusting that You will make all things right,
Father God, my heart aches for Your justice to come, even as I recognize that I, too, am an agent of destruction run amok in Your Kingdom. May we all be found in Your Son on That Great Day.

if I surrender to Your will,
Lord, I am grieved to see all the ways in which I yet do not yield myself to Your revealed will; help me to be even further grieved unto action. Strengthen me for the opposition that is ever-present, and help me to embrace the humility to seek Your path and renounce my own.

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
Jesus, enable my ears to hear Your words in Matthew 6:33 and help me stop looking over my shoulder at everything I leave behind. I know my greatest happiness lies with Your plan and path.

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Come, Lord Jesus. (Now would be just fine with me.)


One Comment

  1. sarah Gilliam said:

    Warren– another Scripture that helps me is Psalm 37:8;
    Don’t fret, it only causes harm

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>