Monday, July 20, 2009

the end of quiet times, the beginning of a deeper relationship

Abigail was sitting on my lap at the end of this and I was reading it to her...we got to the part that said "I don't know" and she did her little version of I thought it would be an appropriate picture!!

It seems that Jason and I have been having lots of deep conversations lately. Perhaps we are just contemplative. I believe sometime in the last year we both became adults. I'm not sure when this usually happens for people, but I'm beginning to feel grown up more often than not. So the scale is at least tipping that way.

Anyway, in our conversation we were reflecting on our walk as Christians. In the beginning I read the Bible a lot and prayed. I read lots of books about believing and being a "good" Christian. I even read some devotional books. Then somewhere in there I got tired of feeling legalistic. You must read for 15 minutes and pray for ten so that the Lord can teach you things in your quiet times. Then trying to come up with the right answer when someone asks "so what's the Lord been teaching you in your quiet times?" I usually fumbled around and made something up. Because who wants to say I don't know, or nothing.

So the next phase of my walk was no quiet times. Sometimes I read the Bible by doing the flip and point method. Sometimes I would go weeks without picking it up. I may have been praying here and there but I don't specifically remember. All I remember is feeling guilty. I'm supposed to be sitting for 20-30 minutes every day to do a quiet time devotional and prayer. How can God teach me anything. He probably is done with me since I can't do this right. The guilt was horrid.

In the midst of all of this I did a two year internship program for people going into ministry. So I was studying the Bible, learning about missions, and learning doctrine and theology. It was a great experience. Somewhere after I finished, I was reflecting on what I learned there, and why God had called me to it since I had no intentions of going into ministry.

The conclusions I have come to thus far are: first I am black and white. I like rules and would have been perfectly content being a pharisee. Give me a list and I will do my best to follow it. That is not how Jesus works. Because He meets people where they are and everyone is in different places when they come the rules are sometimes different. And on top of that He calls people to different mission fields (if you will). Some are factory workers while others move to foreign countries. For that reason there is a lot of "grey" in what the rules are. There is some black and white, but mostly grey. I am embracing the grey. I am finding out what it means to be free in Christ. It means that I should read my Bible and pray. However that for me may mean sitting down and reading a few chapters, or focusing on a specific verse I already know. I have days where I need to sit and read, and days where I need reminded of what He has done for us. And praying...well I like the idea of praying continually. As I go about my day I think of different people, and I pray for them. It seems so much easier than sitting down and praying for a list of people, losing focus and never getting through the list. I have found as I have tried to pray throughout my day God will remind me of people and I will pray, or call, or write. Sometimes He wakes me up at night to pray. All of these things have brought me to a place of deeper relationship. The end of quiet times for me was the beginning of a deeper relationship with God.

The second thing I learned was that God did call me to ministry. Obviously I am ministering to those who live around me, but my first call was to my family. And knowing the word means I can teach Abigail. It means that I can go to it when I am trying to figure out what to do with a parenting issue. I can use it to instruct, encourage, and discipline my daughter. What an amazing resource. And heaven knows that Jason and I are praying our way through parenting. I daily feel inadequate, tired, and the desperation to surround my daughter's life with prayer. I should go spend time with my daughter now.

Enjoying the new found freedom in Christ,

1 comment:

  1. You have some really good thoughts here. I, too, have vascillated between being legalistic and laissez faire. I think I continually try to find the balance.