Monday, July 22, 2013

Quiet Time.... When there is no quiet and there is no time?????

I have wrestled about writing this post for several days now; prayed about it, thought about it, mulled over in my mind what I would say and how I would say it. Even now, I’m not anticipating that the words will come easy. And why has writing this post caused me such turmoil? Because I want to make sure that my motives are pure. It would be very easy to write this while standing on my soapbox because the very subject matter is very near and dear to my heart. However, I wanted to make sure that I was motivated by a love for my sisters in Christ before I wrote a word. I want this post to be an encouragement for you to grow in Christ.  So, with that in mind…..

I don’t spend a lot of time doing the “social networking” thing. (Obviously I would have a lot more blog posts if I did…). But there are 2 main blogs that I follow. One of them only posts a couple of times a month, the other posts several times a week, but it takes a minimal amount of time to scan through the information and get on with my day. Anyway, one of the bloggers posted an entry about having a quiet time during this busy, child-rearing time of our lives. By the end of the post, the author had validated about every excuse possible to let busy moms “off the hook” from spending meaningful, intentional time with the Lord and not even feel guilty about it. My take home message was that if I said a quick prayer here and there throughout my day, that was OK because eventually there will be a season where a busy mom would have more time to sit down with the Lord. I read the first several comments on the post and ALL of them were full of thankfulness for the release of the “guilt” they felt for not getting in the quality time with God on a regular basis.  At that point, I thought to myself, “Am I the only one who disagrees with this post???”  So I read it to my husband to get his opinion. He said, “Well, it sounds good, but it isn’t biblical.”  So, all that being said, the blogger did post another entry with some corrections to the previous post.  I’m not posting a link to the blog, because my intention is not to criticize the author at all. But the subject matter in question is the springboard to this subject which I am passionate about.

A couple more disclaimers before I get started. I am not some well-known blogger. Most people that read my blog are friends and family whom I know personally and would consider friends.  In Proverbs 27:6 we are told: Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse and the kisses of an enemy.  We all know that only a true friend is going to speak the truth even if it is going to hurt. The key is to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). That being said, I hope these words will be helpful in carving out time in your day with the Lord. And if you are struggling in this area, remember: “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench” (Matt. 12:20). Although scripture will not “tickle our ears” (2 Tim. 4:3) on this issue, it will provide a light to the path we should be striving towards.  None of us are perfect and even the most devoted disciple will have hills and valleys in his/her walk, but the general picture of our lives should be a whole hearted devotion to the Lord, loving Him with our WHOLE heart, soul, mind, and strength. That kind of devotion requires spending intimate time with Him.

So how do you make a quiet time when there is NO QUIET and there is NO TIME? Let me first say that we have all been given the same 24 hours in each day. People who have a very intimate relationship with the Lord do not have one second more in their day than people who squeeze in an occasional prayer before a meal.  So, there IS time, the better question is “how are you spending your time?” A relationship with the Lord will not come naturally. In fact, until the Spirit causes us to be born again (John 3) our hearts will not be bent towards Him at all.  (We may think that we are seeking him by being a “good” person and being “religious”… but outward “motions” in the absence of  inner change are futile. We must be born again).  But even after we are born again and have received a new heart (Ez. 36:26), many factors work against us conforming to the image of Christ: our sin nature, Satan, our culture, etc…  Trying to cultivate intimacy with Him without being purposeful is as fruitless as trying to run a marathon without intentionally making time to train. It isn’t going to happen. You will not be walking down the road one day and suddenly trip and fall into a deep, personal, growing relationship with your creator.  Hudson Taylor once said (in effect) that Satan will always find something to distract you with, even if it is just adjusting the window blind.  Oh how many times I have sat down to be with the Lord and immediately I’m distracted by the dust I see on the furniture around me! Hudson Taylor’s quote pops in my head quite often and I give myself permission to get to the dusting later!

So first of all, you need to realize that you do have time. We make time for what is important to us. You take time to eat, drink, and sleep so how much more important than these is time with the Lord? Most of us won’t have to cut back on those basic items in order to find time with God (although some may have to). The majority in our culture are filling their days with many things that although may be “good” things (or maybe not), they aren’t the “best” things. We commonly substitute “good” things in place of God’s best for our lives. Take some time to write out (or at least think about) what your days are being filled with and start cutting out those things that aren’t necessary. Some obvious things that come to mind are: TV/movies, internet/email, too many outside activities that keep you away from home several times/week, scrapbooking, too much exercise, video games, facebook, puzzles/games/smart phone apps, talking on the phone,  texting, etc…  Not that any of these things in and of themselves are inherently bad, but if you are finding time for them and not finding time for God, something needs to be cut back.  Even serving and ministry areas need to be evaluated in light of your own personal time with God. Just look at the example of Mary and Martha. Martha was busy serving and was irritated at her sister because Mary chose to sit at our Lord’s feet. Mary was commended by Jesus for choosing the better option. If we aren’t getting our own time at the feet of the Lord, we are serving in vain.  If you are a wife and a mom, your first area of service is to your husband and children (Titus 2:3-5). We are to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). How can we do that if we do not have a grasp on the discipline and instruction of the Lord ourselves? You can not give what you do not have. You can not teach your child about being a disciple if you aren’t discipled by the Lord yourself. The great commission (Matthew 28:18) is to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. If you are a parent, this begins at home with teaching your children. Again, if you do not have a grasp on the teachings of Christ and the scriptures, how can you teach your children? No, you do not need a seminary degree to learn the scriptures. You just need the Holy Spirit to guide you through them, teaching you bit by bit each day (Isa. 28:10 – For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little). God equips you to carry out His commands. Matt. 6:33 says: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS will be added unto you. Don’t feel that the task is impossible. God will guide you and equip you. But you need to SEEK HIM FIRST.

I personally believe that your quiet time needs to happen when you first wake up. We are to give the Lord the first fruits of our labors/money and I think that you have a “first fruits” of your time as well. If you have early-rising itty-bitties, you may need to get up 30 minutes earlier. If a child wakes up with you, (you know this will certainly happen)… have a game plan. They can snuggle on your lap and you can pray out loud with them. Read your Bible reading to them. Let them be a part of your confession and thanksgiving time. Another option would be to have a “prayer closet” which is at a minimal distance from your bed enabling you not to disturb any sleepers as you tippy toe to your meeting with the Lord.  Sometimes when I get interrupted in the morning, I continue my study during nap time, play time, (or the older children’s quiet time).  Sometimes my study has to continue after the kids have gone to bed. But, my goal is to have 30-60 minutes before anyone else is awake. If it doesn’t happen, then I go to “plan B”, and if that doesn’t happen then “plan C” is enacted. But NOT having a quiet time is an immoveable pillar (even if it means I lose sleep or a meal).  If you keep quiet time as “optional”, you will opt-out of it more often than not. That is how Satan works. (And there will be a “good excuse” for not having it every time…) Remember, that those days in which we are too busy for God are the days when we most need to get quiet before Him.

There will always be an excuse as to why you can’t have a good, consistent quiet time during a given season of life. Don’t look for an excuse as to why it won’t work for you. Instead, look for a way to make it work. Pray that God would show you how to have time with Him. Ask Him to give you wisdom in overcoming the obstacles (children???) and interruptions.  Ask Him to give you a game plan (A, B, and C) so that you can get intimate time with Him.  He will be faithful in answering your prayer (James 1:5-8) Ask your husband to pray about it too. Better yet, ask him to lead you in this area. Ask him to evaluate your schedule with you to see what needs to be cut out or rearranged. You will soon find that your time with your creator is the most blessed part of your day!