Monday, September 7, 2009

Life and Joy

The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Psalm 19:8 (NLT)

I've been writing this post in my head for several days because I want to be so careful that it doesn't come across as judgmental, self-righteous, or legalistic. With that said, here I go...

I am amazed by the number of followers of Christ I know who do not spend time alone with God on a regular basis. They love God. They want to honor God with their lives. They enjoy going to church and maybe even Bible studies. But they do not set aside time to read God's word and pray on a daily basis. They may want to, even enjoy it when they make the extra effort. But it just somehow doesn't make it to the top of their priority list.

I'm not judging these people and saying that their lack of time alone with God is "sinful". I just know what my time alone with God means to me, and I wish everyone could experience it. It's like finding a really great restaurant and then wanting all of your friends to check it out. You can't help but rave about the things you're most excited about. Your excitement becomes contagious and others decide that they simply must find out what all the hype is about. That is how I want people to feel when I talk about my time alone with God. They've just got to experience it for themselves!

I've been to a few conferences for pastors/pastors' wives. Inevitably the topic of "time alone with God" comes up. It's a discipline and struggle for most people to be consistent. But I am always so disappointed in the way the panel answers the question. Here's how it typically goes:

"I really struggle having a consistent time alone with God each day. What helpful hints or suggestions do you have?"

"Do you have children?"

"Yes. A 1 year old and a 3 year old."

"Well, that's a tough stage. You have to understand that there are seasons to life and you're not always going to find the time to sit down with your Bible for an hour a day. Some seasons your time alone with God may be listening to worship music while you take a shower."

Awww...that feels better, right? Let's not challenge anyone to step it up because we might make them feel guilty. I promise you, I've heard people answer this question the same way on multiple occasions.

Here's my perspective: God's word is LIFE to me. Not just a breath of fresh air. Not just a little encouragement when I'm feeling down. Life. I cannot imagine going through the various trials I've experienced without standing on His promises.  There is nothing more important that I do each day than to hear from Him through His word.

I understand there are "seasons" in life. For example, when Caedmon was first born, the only two things I got done most days besides caring for him was taking a shower and spending time alone with God...and even that was a stretch. When I was in my first year of teaching school, I was working 12 hour days and helping Andy plant a church in my "free time". I fell asleep many mornings with my Bible on my lap, but I would still get up in time to have a few minutes with the Lord. My last semester of college I was student teaching and still lived in the dorms my roommate. In order to get in some time with the Lord I would need to get up at 5 AM and sit under the light of a small desk lamp so I wouldn't disturb anyone.

I kinda worked backwards through three different seasons of my life, but the point is: EVERY SEASON IS BUSY. You can always find an excuse. It does take commitment and sacrifice. Some days you don't feel like doing it. But every day that you open that Word, you have the chance to hear from the Almighty God of the Universe! And His words go down deep into your soul. They transform your heart and your character over time. And when those storms and trials come, they are the anchor that holds you steady.

So I want to challenge you today to stop making excuses and start making it a priority. Not because you have to or you feel guilty if you don't. But because you understand that God's Word is LIFE to you. And in His presence is fullness of JOY! 


Vanessa said...

this is exactly what people need to hear. period. i mean you are SO right about this! i find myself doing the same thing-trying to justify my lack of time for the word of God. it is unacceptable. i know that when i make time to read my bible, i feel at peace with the everyday struggles of motherhood and marriage. thank you for speaking up, we need a stern talking to sometimes!

Brad Wrage said...

Awesome. I love the illustration of your favorite restaurant that you can't help spread the word about. We should yelp the word!!