Yesterday, I receive an e-mail with this request:
Could you do one of your next blogs about keeping up with God, as in getting closer with devotions and stuff?
And I rejoiced at the fit between this request and today’s verse/word!
(Can’t see the image? Click here to download Philippians 4:5!)
No question: The Lord is near.
In question: Is my gentleness evident to all?
(Not so fast…it’s a rhetorical question!)
My gentleness–how I treat others throughout my day–is a direct result of my nearness to God.
A few thoughts on drawing near to God:
One Minute Can Change Everything
What is the number one reason you don’t have your time with God in the morning?
I know the obvious answer is time, but I think there is a different reason: It’s our overwhelming need to do it “right”.
I feel like if I can’t have a “good” quiet time – one with prayer, meditation, Bible reading and reading a devotional, then why bother? So I let my overwhelming need for perfection keep me from having a meaningful relationship with God. If I can’t take the time to do it right, then I guess I won’t do it at all.
I kept thinking that I would have a chunk of time to really do the kind of devotion I wanted. But that chunk of time never magically happened. And my quiet time suffered. Or didn’t happen.
One of the things I’ve learned in other areas of my life is the principle of 85%: Doing something 85% well is about the best we can hope for or expect. It takes the perfectionistic spirit out of things, while still giving me something to strive for. My quiet time had become like cleaning my kid’s bathroom: if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I wouldn’t even start.
So I started to apply the principle to my time with God. I would start off with 10% and work my way up. I figured one minute was better than nothing.
What I didn’t expect was the subtle way that my heart changed during the 10%. I would grit it out, and force myself to do more and more as time went on.
As I started to spend time with God again after a dry period, just that little bit of time – even one minute, I wanted more. I would tell myself I was just going to spend a minute or two reading Jesus Calling, or praying, or reading in First John, I wanted to linger a little. I wanted to go a little deeper.
Eventually, it became 15 minutes. 15 minutes was a good amount of time: enough to spend some time with God and get my morning right, but short enough that I felt that it was manageable. Often, I spend much more time than that. But I don’t skip it because it’s “too much”.
If you are wrestling with quite time, could I talk you into a one-minute quite time? Does it feel like it would be cheating God? Can I be the one to give you permission to be OK with just getting started. God longs for you to be with Him. One minute, that will turn into 15.
Give Me This Water!
(back to Cheri)
One of my worst habits isn’t something I do; it’s something I don’t do. I don’t drink enough water.
I just don’t think about water…until fatigue sets in and a splitting headache demands my attention. Especially during the winter, I’m simply unaware of thirst.
Recently, as I pondered the story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman, I was struck by her urgent request, practically a demand: “Sir, give me this water!” Here is a woman aware of her thirst. Aware of her need. Aware of the consequences of dehydration.
I am inspired by her immediacy. All too often, I deny my obvious need for water. I walk by a drinking fountain, telling myself, “I don’t need just a sip. I need a full water bottle. I won’t waste my time with a few gulps. They’ll just leave me thirstier.” And then I forget and continue to go without.
What happens when I do stop and take a drink from a fountain? I actually begin to meet my body’s pressing need for hydration. And something else happens, too: I suddenly become overwhelmingly aware of how badly I need that full water bottle. I realize how T-H-I-R-S-T-Y I actually am. Drinking until my thirst is quenched becomes a top priority, no longer a “when I get around to it” concept.
In John 7:37, Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.“
I find it all too easy to become spiritually dehydrated because I simply don’t think about my need for His “living water” until fatigue sets in. All too often, I deny my obvious need for His Word, telling myself, “I’ll wait until I can spend an hour in Bible study. Five minutes isn’t enough; a few quick verses will just leave me wanting more.”
What happens when I do stop and meditate on a few verses? I do want more; I become overwhelmingly aware of how badly I need that hour of quiet time with God. I realize how T-H-I-R-S-T-Y I actually am. Quenching my spiritual thirst becomes a top priority.
I echo the Samaritan woman’s words: “Give me this water!”
The First Few Set the Tone
How many notes does it take you to recognize a familiar tune?
Just for fun, try a few:
How many notes did you need before you could start humming along, perhaps tapping to the rhythm, maybe even miming the piece in the air?
No, this isn’t a competition – no prize if it took you only 3 notes when I needed 10-20! But it is a comparison. A metaphor, for the start of your day.
How many minutes after waking up – perhaps mere moments – before the tone is set for the rest of your day? For me, what’s on my mind as I’m waking up becomes the way the rest of the day plays out.
I used to get up at 5:30 AM, put on my iPod, and listen to an audiobook while working out on the elliptical. But first, for a “just a few minutes” (what my children call “Mom minutes”!) before exercising, I’d check my e-mail…and Facebook…and text messages…and…
By the time I got to the elliptical, my mind was awhirl with bits and pieces of other people’s lives and news and problems to solve and emergencies and…and…and… Then somehow I was surprised when the rest of my day was a cacophony of people and events and drama and blind-siding and…and…and…
I still get up at 5:30 AM, but I intentionally avoid distracting technology (yes, even a good audiobook on my iPod!) until I’ve spent time in God’s word, awakening my mind with His Love and Truth before anything else has a chance to get in.
Do I then waltz effortlessly through the rest of the day?
My days are still full of people and events and all sorts of unexpected stuff, just like yours.
The difference is not in what happens during the day.
It’s the tone of my day that’s different–an entirely new song, in fact!–when I start with the Word than when I start with the world.
Try this today:
- Stop everything and spend a minute–yes, a minute!–in God’s word. Take the sip.
- Tonight, lay out your Bible so that the first thing you do upon waking is set the Tone for your day.
Leave a comment!
- responding to today’s blog, and/or
- sharing your Day #1-25 experience of replacing “baditude” with God’s word and gratitude, and/or
- about anything else on your heart!