“Be thou the center of our least endeavor.” These words from the hymn “A Christian Home,” written by Barbara B. Hart in 1965, echoed in my ears after last Sunday’s church service. That phrase, for God to be the center, formed a punch line before the final line of the last verse:
O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever! We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care; Their bonds of love no enemy can sever If Thou art always Lord and Master there: Be Thou the center of our least endeavor: Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.
What it does not mean
That second-to-last line surprised me with what it did not pray for:
God, center my self-focus as I reflect on past pain and suffering.
Yes, in retrospect, I recognize God’s comfort and help through past troubled times. But I need to make Him the center of my life from this moment forward.
God be the center of my upcoming project.
Yes, I want God to be my foundation as I pursue the projects that He guides me to accomplish. But I need His guidance on more than just the big tasks.
God, be the center of my future.
Yes, I entrust what lies ahead to my Creator and Savior. But I need Him in the present moment.
God, be the center of my success.
Yes, I pray for God to be with me in my proud moments of achievement. But that is not the only time I need to be centered on God.
What it does mean
Of course, I desire God to be the central aspect of my past, present, future, projects, successes, goals, achievements, and choices. But what about inviting God to be the center of my everyday tasks, chores, and responsibilities? Even more humbling, what about establishing God as the center of my least-favorite, most-disgusting, often-dreaded activities? What if I pray God into the center of my everyday life, the here and now, even when I find it boring and undesirable?
Brother Lawrence’s writings, published in The Practice of the Presence of God, focus on his insights and time with God during the everyday tasks of life. Born Nicholas Herman in the early 1600s, Brother Lawrence spent years working in a monastery. His writings describe how he disciplined himself to focus on God as he worked, most frequently peeling potatoes in the kitchen. Five hundred years later, Brother Lawrence’s words still stand as a testament of how to involve God as the center of our least endeavor.
In Matthew 6:11, the Lord’s Prayer gives me an example of inviting God into my everyday life: “give us today our daily bread.” Not provision for the future, not pantries and freezers full of food for an entire month, but just enough for today’s nourishment. This verse helps me pray for God’s provision, for Him to supply me in the amount and timing that fills my needs, not what I think I deserve. In this way, I learn to trust God for His help in essentials of daily life.
Stormie O’Martian explores that same theme in her book, appropriately entitled Just Enough Light For The Step I’m On (1986, Harvest House Publishers). The image that comes to my mind is Psalm 119:105: “your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” God guides me with His word, giving me what I need on my everyday walk with Him.
Lord God, let my least endeavor be filled with your presence at the center. No matter how insignificant or irritating I find my everyday task, help me to rely on you as my foundation and guide. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Originally posted June 2021]