A couple of years ago I celebrated a wedding for an older couple who had both lost their spouses but found love again in each other. The wedding was held at a guest house called ‘Pleasant Places’.
I was intrigued by the name. It rang a bell somewhere in my mind. I asked the couple – they told me that the owner named it after a verse in the Bible (Psalm 16:6 – the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places).
For both the owner and the newly married couple, it was the fulfilment of a dream – an answer to a prayer. One sought a place of peace and solitude after a lifetime of work and the others, a new beginning for a life together.
Since my decision to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of my life some 31 years ago, I have found great peace in reading the Scriptures and in prayer.
These two disciplines have been a constant in my life from day one. I realised that if I was to have a relationship with God, I needed to use the means available to build the communion between us.
My wife bought me a Bible – the Good News Bible had just come out. It was easy to read and I read it like a novel.
The story seemed to repeat quite often but it made enough sense for me to see God’s constant intention to interact with people. God seems to have an unending desire to build the relationship, to forgive many transgressions, to give guidelines for life and offer many opportunities to begin again.
I also embarked on a ritual of daily prayer. I didn’t know how to pray at first so I used the two prayers I was taught as a child – the God bless my family (by name) prayer and the Lord’s Prayer.
I visited the local Methodist Bookshop and bought a copy of all the books on prayer I could find.
Thirty-one years later, I am still learning to pray, in particular, to be quiet enough to hear God’s side of the conversation. I have spent several weekends at a Benedictine Retreat House learning to be silent.
Today, I spend at least an hour each morning reading Scripture and praying.
It sets my day right and gets my spirit into a good place. I use the readings from the Daily Prayer app of the Church of England. When my wife wakes up, we have coffee and listen together to the Bible in One Year devotions from Alpha (BiOY app). In the evening I read the Compline service from the Daily Prayer app to end my day. The digital age has made life so much easier!
My prayers are very much focussed on honouring and thanking God for what has happened in my life, acknowledging the way in which the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.
I also pray for those in need and situations which would seem to require divine intervention. I listen a lot.
On Sunday, I attended a congregation other than my own for worship.
The preacher spoke about giving thanks for God’s provision in your life but then he asked whether we had ever asked God why this had been provided, and what we were doing about it. It struck my heart – indeed, the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places for much of my life. Is there intention in the way this has happened?
Is gratitude enough? Have I responded well to God’s grace?
I am ever grateful for God’s grace towards me but what am I to do with it? I receive it joyfully and I share it hopefully.
What about you?
Rev David de Kock