Little details are BIG. I signed in at the office and walked down the hall, gazing fondly at pages taped to walls, grouped by classroom, thickly-penciled letters sprawling above and below that distinctive blue-lined paper, with red dots splitting each line. The mashed-potatoes-and-baking-bread smell led me to the cafeteria, filled with mostly empty metal folding chairs.
“Whew!” I took a seat on the front row. Waiting for fifteen minutes was a small price to ensure Haskell saw me. I touched the gold-plated spiral pin clipped to the neck of my tank top and tugged my long skort forward to cover more of two pudgy knees. Haskell would think I was gorgeous, that was all that mattered.
I talked with the mom who joined me on the front row, musing that she was about the age of my daughter, who had to work this morning. Then, students filed in, class by class, the principal welcomed everyone to the award ceremony, and called the two kindergarten classes to the stage.
Haskell was the twelfth kindergartner in line. When he turned around, wide eyes searching the audience, I stuck my hand up high and waved. He smiled a tight, close-lipped smile and waved back, lifting his hand just above his waist.
“Had the teacher told them not to wave?” I wondered.
Then Haskell touched his neck, at the spot where I wore the pin and smiled the wide, full-hearted smile I loved. Tears sprang to my eyes as I touched my hand to the clip at my neck, nodded, and gave him two thumbs-up. After he had spotted that clip in Nana’s joo-ree box a few months ago, I had worn it, whenever he asked, which was often, and wherever he wanted, which included the gym and the grocery, and while vacuuming, delighted that he wanted to decorate his Nana.
“Thank You, Lord, that I remembered this little detail. It is huge to him!”
Teach me gratitude, Lord, for Your daily attention to details of my life. As I drove back home, I reflected on what I remembered of Psalm 37:23, that God busies himself with the steps of the righteous. When I got home, I looked it up:
“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. (Psalm 37:23, AMPC)
“Oh, Father” I said. “I was overjoyed when Haskell noticed I had worn our special pin. His smiling face said ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nana!’ Father, help me remember to thank You, with my whole heart and a big smile, for the countless details of everyday life You prepare just for me, like songs on the radio, a text from a friend and smiles from strangers, just when I need them. You truly do arrange every detail of the life we share, don’t You, Lord?”
Teach me gratitude, Lord, for Your new mercies that come every day. “And make me more mindful for the big things You give day after day, like the breath of life, food, a home, a loving family, and most of all the privilege of knowing You. Truly, Father, Your faithfulness is great, just like You show us in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
I paused, seeing the dining table of my childhood, Daddy at the head of the table, orange knotty pine wall behind him, lengthening late afternoon shadows visible through the window, the view partly obscured by drapes embossed with turquoise flowers. Daddy taught us to thank Mother for supper, and my two brothers and I did, in our own words, and, as I recall, using the same words each time – “Thanks Mother. It was good.” “Thank you, Mother. ‘ppreciate it.” and “Thank you, Mother, for a good supper.” She had always smiled and given each of us a sincere “You’re welcome!”
“But how much more would she have appreciated our thanks,” I pondered, “If we had said, ‘The meatloaf was great tonight!’ or ‘Your biscuits and gravy are the best!’ or ‘That fried chicken was sooo good!”
She never got tired of hearing us thank her, and You never get tired of hearing us thank You either, do you Lord? So thank You, Father, again, for my family, thank You that I have a car to drive to Haskell’s school, thank You . . . “
Teach me gratitude that You are the loving Father who teaches us. I sat at my desk and opened the three Bibles I use most often when I write. I wanted to check my memory. As I read verse 22, I saw it was connected to verse 23. Psalm 37:22-23 said:
- (New Living) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”
- (New International) “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD holds him with his hand.”
- (Amplified Classic) “The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)
As I compared translations, I marveled again at how Holy Spirit deepens our understanding when we focus and try earnestly to understand God’s Words. As I read and reread the verses, cause and effect linkages emerged:
 When we live a godly life, God delights in our way, or our manner of life.
 When God delights in how we are living, He busies Himself with every detail of our lives,
 Because of  and , even though we stumble and fall, we will not stay down because the LORD holds our hand and supports, sustains, and strengthens us.
At first glance, the NIV and NLT, which said we would never fall, seemed to disagree with the AMPC, which indicated we would fall.
“Hmmm, Lord? What is the key to understanding this? Well, if I think of a father holding the hand of a little child as they walk together, that child could stumble and fall, but a loving, attentive father, like You are, Lord, would grasp that little hand even more tightly the moment the child began falling so that the child would fall only to his knees and not all the way to the ground, as he would have if the father were not holding his hand and pulling him back up.
Oh, Father! Teach me to always, always, always hold on to Your mighty hand! Let me be grateful You hold my hand. Let me not resist but agree willingly when Your hand tugs me in a specific direction. Keep teaching me to have the same mind as You, to agree with You, so that we can walk together (Amos 3:3). Keep my feet on the paths of righteousness that lead to eternal life. (Proverbs 12:28) What comforting reassurance these verses bring! Thank You, Lord!
Teach me to rightly divide Your Word. I closed my eyes and searched for words to express my gratitude. “Thank You, Father, for teaching me to look at more than just one verse. Otherwise, today, I would have missed the connection between verse 22 and verse 23.”
Recently, God had impressed on me the importance of studying out the context of verses I memorized and ones that reappeared in teachings and sermons I heard.
At minimum, I had learned to scan several verses before and after any one verse, checking for connecting words and phrases that indicated cause and effect, words like for, because, therefore, and so that. Ideally, I wanted to know the main message of the book of the Bible the verse was in, the historical, Biblical, and cultural context, a broad outline of the book and a detailed outline of the chapter.
“Well, no, I pondered. “Not just one chapter. I have learned that the original writings were not divided into chapter and verse. I see both missed blessings and danger in letting the thoughts of men, no matter how learned and holy they were, rather than Holy Spirit, determine for me where to “divide” the Truth.
Father, I will study out 2 Timothy 2:15 more but I do believe part of the meaning of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” is to keep the passages that are all of one piece, as one piece in our thinking, rather than picking one or two verses here or there.
However, I do know that just one or two verses or brief passages can accurately be taught if the pastor or Bible teacher has followed 2 Timothy 2:15 and done the diligent, time-consuming study necessary for proper understanding. That is the spoon-feeding I had lapsed into for so long. Thank You, Father, for using fear and depression to make me desperate enough to study Your Word, diligently, for my personal needs.
Thank You, Father, for busying Yourself with the details of my life today by teaching me how to better study Your Word. It feels like You put truths there just for me, just like I wore that pin so that Haskell would know I was thinking about him, and so he could see that what was important to him was important to me. What a loving Father You are, Lord!
Thank You for Your great grace and Your mercies, which are new every morning, as You say in Lamentations 3:23. . . and I see that verse 22 says, “It is because of the LORD’s great love that we are not consumed because Your compassions never fail. And actually, that whole Chapter Three of Lamentations is so instructive, let’s see . . . let’s start at verse one and recall that the author is probably Jeremiah and that he was writing about. . .