In Becoming More, Lysa opens chapter five, "Devotion Time Blues", by telling us of the stressful preparation for her sister's visit. High on that list of stress was discovering a mattress floating in her pond, visible for all to see.
It's no secret that if we run ourselves ragged, we will be physically drained. We run on empty when we've depleted all our physical energies. We give more than we have. The same is true for our spiritual life. If we don't revive our spiritual tank by spending time with God, we will be running on empty. To be spiritually depleted is worse than being physically depleted.
Lysa points out something very interesting. Each time Jesus proclaimed peace, whether to His disciples or to Thomas or to whomever, the writer ends it with an exclamation point. "Peace be with you!" Jesus was intentional and emphatic with urgency. So why peace? Why was Jesus so emphatic to give us peace? Lysa points out that the world can give false joy, false hope, and false love. But it cannot give false peace. Peaceful moments, maybe. Only Christ is the author, provider, and giver of peace. I believe peace to be the number one thing most all people desire in their lives. You think maybe Jesus knows that?!!
How does He give peace then? One way is through the time spent with Him. He prepares for the day ahead so we can act and react with peace at our center. I love how Lysa reminds us that "He knows things and see things for which I need to be prepared." I can forget that at 7am God already knows what I will incur at 12pm, 5pm, 8pm. Seeking God will fill me with more of Him and prepare me with what I need to handle that day. He has shown me that when I forgo our time together, I forgo my preparedness and enter chaos.
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:1-4 [my emphasis]
"He loves us enough to desire to protect us from our natural-flesh responses." Oh yes Lord, how I need Your protection from my own fleshly responses, from my flesh period.
"If my heart has been prepared to receive God's most perfect help, I am able to receive it right when I need it and I'm much more likely to apply it immediately."
As Lysa says it seems so elementary to say we need to read the Bible every day and spend time with Jesus. Isn't this what we first discovered as a babe in Christ? Isn't it evident that it makes life easier to endure? Isn't this told to us all the time in sermons, devotionals, studies, etc.?
So why do we fail? Why is it hard to do? Why do we struggle with being faithful in these?
Before we explore struggling with quiet time, I want to share a couple paragraphs that I feel shows just how real Lysa is. She's been there. Done that. She shares this with such honesty and humor. How can we not: 1) shake our hands in agreement and 2) laugh at how ridiculous but true it is.
"Have you ever been at a church service when the teacher asked everyone to turn to a particular book of the Bible and you couldn't for the life of you remember where in the Bible that book is located? And for Pete's sake, have you noticed how loud Bible pages are? You start to sweat...you feel every eye...on you. Heaven forbid you actually turn to the table of contents. The reality is, some of those who so easily turned to that scripture are just sitting there with their Bibles cracked open to the wrong place pretending to follow along."
You gotta love that Lysa!
I remember when she did the survey about devotion times on her blog and found that many people struggle with their devotion time. We are not alone.
Ill-equipped. Intimidated. Mundane habit. (Those described the feelings women confessed.) One commenter, Kelli, described the struggles as "the duty of devotion rather than the desire." Instead of our time with God being out of habit and an ordinary ritual, it should be "a way that God will speak to them, help them, and equip them for a more meaningful life." I can I can sure use a dose of "meaningful."
"We underestimate the power made available to us when we spend time with God. Our earthly eyes are limited. Start embracing the incredible privilege to meet with Jesus every day."
"Devotions don't have to be perfect to be powerful and effective." This reminds me of what James tells us. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
A righteous soul just willing to be with God in prayer and devotion. He'll do the rest, directing the time we give to Him.
If I've heard it advised once, I've heard it a hundred times. Start devotion time with prayer. Pray every time before reading His Word. Do I? No, I admit it. I'm guilty of not doing this and that's a shame because I'm not allowing His full power to be released in me and my time with Him. I go in phases--sometimes I've been faithful to pray before entering His presence but unfortunately I'm not in that phase right now, yet. I try to say to myself that He knows my heart's desire when I come to Him; He know I want Him to speak to me through His Word. But He still wants us to verbalize our feelings. Asking Him into our time gives Him full permission to govern it. It should be "preparation for the great adventure God and I are about to head off on together in the hours ahead." That just puts a totally different perspective on it.
Okay. Stop the bus. Hold the traffic. Lysa shares this scripture. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11 Yeah, okay, great verse you say. But even greater is that I just finished a study with Beth Moore on David ("A Heart Like His"). One of the last days was about having an undivided heart and a wholehearted devotion.
I love how Lysa's friend asked her if she had considered putting the whole mattress incidence in her book. Her answer was so precious and priceless: "No, there might be too many chapters that started off with some kind of everyday life antic that put me on the edge of a breakdown only to have Jesus talk me off the coffee table and teach me something new in the process." Her friend said "Lysa isn't that where most of us live? And isn't that sort of the point of your book?" Amen. And, I'm so glad Lysa is real and shows us not only the errors of her ways but the lessons from the Lord.
"Remember we aren't after perfectly accomplishing our quiet time routine...[but] about seeing our time with God as the most precious and valuable minutes of our day."
What a refreshing and reviving perspective that this heart of mine needed.
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