I own a precious little book of meditations that I bought many years ago at the Ayden Free Will Baptist Bookstore. Though first published in the late 1800s, it is still in print and even available as an electronic book. Entitled Daily Strength for Daily Needs, the book has an entry for each day of the year. Mary W. Tileston intended her well-designed offering to be a resource for daily quiet time with God.
I well remember my quiet time with God, Mary’s book in hand, the time when the book was newly purchased. The year was 1982, the season, summer. I spent time that summer visiting my grandfather, who at 92 was ailing. I slept upstairs on East Second Street in Ayden in a spare bedroom of my grandparents’ home, and I read Daily Strength while stretched out on the bed at bedtime, fan blowing the curtains at open windows, no air conditioning. I had to be still to withstand successfully the hot night.
There I read Mary’s book, marking significant passages, and I prayed. I relaxed in gratitude for the peace that enveloped me in that solitary room.
There were, objectively, problems on the horizon. My grandfather’s health was declining, and if he shouldn’t make it, my grandmother would have a major adjustment, not only from the death of her husband of 62 years, but she felt she couldn’t live alone and so there would be upheaval ahead. For myself, I was finishing the last schooling I would ever have. During the day I was writing the most important paper of my entire education, the final requirement for my final educational degree. That was pressure, for my whole future work life depended on the outcome of that paper.
These are only two of the stresses that summer. There were others, for do not problems seem to come in bunches?
But—my point—did I fret and worry while reading Mary Tileston’s little book? Were my prayers anguished and agitated? Not at all. I felt God’s blessing on my life and the lives of my loved ones, and I relaxed in the peace that my quiet time afforded at the end of the day.
I am not always so fortunate in enjoying “…the peace of God, which passeth all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7). I have not always been able to let the stresses of the day recede at the end of the day. But I do know that when I have consistently practiced quiet time at the end (and the beginning) of the day, my life has smoothed out marvelously. It is only my own failing that doesn’t keep God close in my life. He is always there, ready to be acknowledged.
And that summer, in a solitary room where I wouldn’t be disturbed, I knew gratitude for God’s blessings in a time of transition for my family and for myself.
Today, I return to Mary’s book when I want to recapture the spirit of those summer hours. And I always find my way back to God, in part because of the reading of her delightful little book. Thank you, Mary. Thank You, God.