By Elisabeth Corcoran
As much as I try, I can't seem to keep up with a consistent quiet time.
Either I'm too busy or too bored.
Sound familiar? Do you struggle with daily devotions, especially now that you're a mom? You're not the only one! Let me share a few ideas with you, starting off with the statement, 'as much as I try'. That wording choice implies that the lion's share of your spiritual growth rests on your shoulders. That you have given it your best shot, probably time and again, and find yourself failing with each attempt. I would like to point out that because you have free will, yes, you are responsible for getting yourself into the presence of God as often as you can and in as many ways as you can, but fortunately for all of us, God is in control of our growth. In other words, you are in charge of the process and God is in charge of the results. What is also implied in those few words 'as much as I try' is that what you are trying to do is difficult and distasteful. That it is an obligation. That it is something you dislike doing, and therefore you must force yourself to work at it. I think most of us have this image of God in the recesses of our minds that places Him with a big attendance chart tracking our quiet times, and we only get a gold star when we've spent an hour in prayer and Bible study at 5 in the morning. And we get demerits each and every time we hit the snooze alarm. My take on God is that all He really wants us for us to love Him and worship Him. All He really wants is to spend time with those He created for His pleasure - us. There is no attendance chart, and therefore no obligation. When we begin to view God as a Father, as a Friend, who simply wants to shower us with His love, the guilt eases up tremendously.
Now let's hit the 'I'm too busy' issue. You're too busy. Really? How much television have you watched in the past seven days? How many hours have you spent surfing the internet or checking e-mail? How much time did you spend on the phone, or shopping, or fill-in-the-blank? I would bet that ninety percent of people who claim to be too busy are either disorganized, using their time poorly, or saying they're too busy because it sounds important to say. For those of us that fall in that ninety percent camp, I would highly suggest ruthlessly going through your schedule and honestly examining your choices of activities and time-fillers, than getting rid of something that isn't adding quality to your life. Then go to your to-do list, your Day Timer, or your Palm Pilot, and schedule an appointment with God. He deserves that kind of attention and appreciation just as you would plan to get together with a friend for lunch, so why not? And for those of you who really do happen to be too busy.then, by all means, please consider eliminating something. There is no more important investment into your life and the lives of the people you interact with, than making sure you are being filled up with the love of God on a regular basis.
And now for those of you who are honest with themselves and can't help but notice that their quiet time leaves something to be desired, I say, you are not alone. Frank Laubach says, "If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are." My first recommendation to you would be to get really candid with God. Tell Him that you're bored, that the excitement and adventure of walking with Him has diminished. Then ask Him to 'restore the joy of your salvation'. Ask Him that when you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. Ask Him to give you a heart that loves Him and desires Him and His word above all other things in your life. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Remind Him of promises in Scripture that say that if you seek Him with all your heart, He will be found by you. Invite God into your end of the process. We don't ask Him enough.
Then move onto the practicals. Mix things up a bit. Get into a small group that is going to study some material you've never looked at before. Pick up a different translation of the Bible than what you're used to. Get up a few minutes early and go for a walk with Him. Start meeting God for coffee in the middle of the day. Stay up late and look up at the stars with Him. Keep some contemporary worship tapes in your car for those times when you find yourself driving alone. Come up with what I call triggers - where you take an everyday item and use it to help you remind yourself of something. For instance, I have a girlfriend, Keely. I sometimes call her 'Kee'. I'm trying to remember to pray for Kee when I have my keys in my hands. Doesn't always work, but even if I'm reminded to pray for her one or two more times, that counts for something. Get a journal and start writing out your prayers - letters to God. You keep in touch with old friends this way - why not write your Heavenly Father? Jot down some phrases - promises, truths, Scripture - and place them all around your home, car, work environment, so that you are brought back to this truth - what author Brennan Manning says is the most important thing about you - that you are beloved of God.
Yes, you may have to try - but ask God to help you. And you may be very busy. But sift your life's activities through the fingers of God and tell me whether or not you have time for Him. And you may be bored. Ask God to light a fire within you for time with Him. Time spent with God is one of the only things that is going to last for eternity. And that is most definitely worth it.
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