I do my quiet times in the morning. I have bounced around a little and found different rhythms as time has marched on. In my first year of motherhood, I was so completely sleep deprived that I could only handle short snippets of scripture that I would mediate on all day long. My official “quiet time” was super short and I wasn’t truly alone but I was in prayer constantly. Every hour of the night and day, I was shooting up prayers. Prayers for sleep, for sanity, patience or unintelligible grunts from my soul.
“In the same way the Holy Spirit also joins to help us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirt himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.” Romans 8:26
Thank you, LORD, for an intercessor. I don’t always know how to pray or what I need. The words fail me, and I can fumble around but God always knows. He knows the hearts of His children and wants to love us, encourage us and grow His spirit in us. He wants our relationship and to see us seeking Him, but He is gracious with our struggles.I think most of us parents agree that we try to distinguish our children’s actions from their heart intentions. A spilled cup of milk from a child who was attempting to pour a cup for themselves or a sibling receives a different response than a cup sent flying across the table in a tantrum. We see where there was good intention and effort and grace can cover the unmet expectations. If we can do this as sinful, imperfect parents, don’t you think God can?If you try to get up early for a quiet time and end up bouncing a baby back to sleep or falling asleep yourself because you are just so exhausted, I truly believe God sees your effort. It takes time to find a routine and He is after our hearts, not a box on our schedule anyway. The bible stories with kids count, arrow prayers shot up in the heat of the moment count, worship in the car and those brief moments of meditation count. There is a song we sang often in my church growing up.
“Give me one pure and holy passion. Give me one magnificent obsession. Give me one glorious ambition for my life, to know and follow hard after you. To know and follow hard after you, to grow as your disciple in the truth. This world is empty, pale, and poor compared with knowing you, My Lord. Lead me on and I will run after you.”
Isn’t this the heart cry we should have? To obsess over our love for Jesus and His role in our lives. An obsession doesn’t sit quietly in a box, it unfolds into all other relationships and interests. A passion that is being fanned by finding relationship with Christ and prayerful moments when we are able. All of this said about God’s grace for us, I do have to say that we need to regularly evaluate ourselves and ask if we really don’t have the time? Is the time not available or are we just spending it elsewhere? You see, the other things about an “obsession” is we prioritize it. It is one thing in our lives that we try to make happen. I had to do this self-evaluation awhile back when I was trying to shift my schedule around. I wanted to workout in the mornings right away so I could shower and be ready for the day early in the morning. I figured the kids would take their quiet time and naps in the afternoon and I would do devotions then. Great plan. I don’t think scheduling quiet time is a one-size fits all activity. It doesn’t have to be in the morning. I know pastors who prefer evenings because they want to pray over the day’s events and list ways they saw God move. I think nap time would be a wonderful time, but I am not good at it.The problem is the kids need me to resettle them multiple times or stagger nap time just enough that I have no truly relaxed time for scripture. I’m jumpier and less focused because I’m not sure when the next interruption is coming. Add to that nap time is right when the sun is high in the sky and highlighting every speck of dust or fingerprint covered surface in our home. I sit there, trying to concentrate and all I can see is the work to be done. Theoretically I could just not care about that stuff, but I haven’t figured out how to alter my personality that much yet. Instead, I altered my time. My best time with Jesus is in the early mornings; a cup of coffee in one hand, a dark room with a small lamp, eyes focused only on the word and heart focused only on Jesus. Letting God’s word be “the lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.”The truth of the matter is, if I can drag my butt out of bed to sweat it out then I can get up early to spend some time with my Savior. Caring for my body is important and even biblical. We are asked to treat our bodies as temples, and I believe taking care of them can even be an act of worship. An act of gratitude and stewardship but vanity can easily become an idol. I realized that was happening for me. I had to tear down the idol in my heart. I wasn’t letting anything come between me and my fitness, but I was letting dozens of things come between me and my LORD.Scripture is our delight, more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey. It is our direction to keep our feet from slipping and to continue training us in righteousness. It should be central, and it should be revered.
“All scripture is breathed out by god and profitable for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16=17
It is god’s living word and it is our weapon in the fight for our hearts and the hearts of those we love.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit and joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Although this post is about scheduling. I am not telling you how to schedule your time. Your home, your children, your spouse, your passions and interests are all different than mine. The only thing I will say is that, as a Christian, time with God isn’t really optional. There will be seasons of intimacy and seasons of strain or distraction but we need to keep pressing in for the sake of our family. We need to be in relationship with Christ if we want to hear the Word of God speak or be able to speak it over our families. We long to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these little lives. To teach them about life and love and community and our time in the Word multiplies that ability. When his word enters our hearts, it does not return empty. So, friends, whatever season you are in. Whether you are running around frazzled or in a restful season, I encourage you to press into the heart of God. It is our highest form of self-care because soul care can fill our cup with Living water that will not run dry. It is what fortifies us for the days when self care is a distant dream.