Saturday, January 3, 2009

Warning: It's NOT Your Mother's Quiet-Time

I remember giving my life to the Lord - I was 14 years old.  A nudge from a friend sitting next to me and my heart already stirring with anticipation, set my legs into motion, carrying me from my seat to the altar. I'll never forget that night, which led to my pursuit of God and all things "church." If the youth church doors were open, I was there. If youth camp was happening, you guessed it, I was there. I LOVED church then, and I still do.

My ECYs-early church years-were filled with brand new Biblical and Christian lifestyle concepts; and I couldn't get enough of Bible study or worship. My discovery of Christ overwhelmed me in a wonderful way, so I pursued a deeper relationship with the One I called my Savior, and I still do.

Through core groups (small groups for teens), I pledged to spend an hour each day with the Bible and my Lord, not just at church, but at home. Wow. I moved through the rest of my teen years full of guilt with a pledge for the most part unkept. Accomplished on the days I set aside my hour, yet self-condemned on the days I didn't, I felt like a failure, mediocre at best in my walk with Christ - and sometimes, I still do.

Do you?

Years later, I'm a far-cry from that teenage girl, but the challenge of quiet-time in the "spend-an- hour-in-prayer-and-Bible-reading-everyday" sense, still haunts me on occasion. Especially when the day has sped by and I'm jolted from near dozing by the thought of, I missed my hour with the Lord today. I breathe a prayer, asking God to please forgive me. And again, sometimes, I still do. 

Ladies, transparent conversation starts here and now. Will you share your feelings authentically? Do you feel guilty for missed time with the Lord? What is it that keeps you from quiet-time? Work? Family? How do you feel when the day whisks by and you haven't had a moment, let alone a full hour, to be still before God - with Him. Do you feel like you've neglected an obligation? How do you move beyond that? Do you? Or do you tell yourself you'll start over and tomorrow you'll do better?

First and foremost, as the foundation for Linger is laid, my intention is not to make you feel guilty or condemn you for misuse of your daily time. No one can do that, and His Word declares why:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

Girls, this is just the beginning of our journey. And where best to start, but at the very beginning of a challenge. Take a look at the above questions again. Will you join me in sharing your thoughts and experiences? For the sake of our journey, we're not looking for answers to our dilemma - yet. I believe we will first be encouraged by knowing we're not the only ones, but that we all struggle when it comes to our mother's version of quiet-time. And my prayer is that through our upcoming weeks - months - together, we will find it is easier to Linger with our Savior, constantly and consistently. 

Here we go...


Kay Day said...

I grew up in church also. Was taught that all good Christians had a daily devotion time, preferably before dawn. This included Bible reading, memorization, and a notebook full of requests to be prayed over.

So, yes, I struggled a lot with guilt and sometimes... I still do.

But I am learning more and more to focus on "being" rather than on "doing." Abiding and worshipping all day rather than just one hour.

But... when I don't spend that dedicated time alone with God... I feel something. Not always guilt, but... loss. Emptiness. Hunger.

Tami Boesiger said...

I think it helps to remember we do our quiet times to be WITH God, not as an accomplishment FOR God. If I look at it this way, when I don't get it done, I don't feel guilty, but disappointed. It makes me WANT to do it, not feel obligated.

Sharen Watson said...

Kay and Tami... both of your comments have great merit. Thank you so much for sharing.

Kay... Church teaching has changed so very much since we were young; and you're right, daily devoted times of Bible reading, memorization and prayer requests were expected. I didn't want to let my mentors/teachers (or especially my Father) down, so hence the guilt factor. Another thing... that whole get up before dawn thing had me totally befuddled. A sleepy mind=heavy distraction.

Tami...Absolutely. BEING with God is the most important thing. And I miss Him so much when I don't set time apart just for Him. Question: Aside from being disappointed for yourself, do you ever feel like you've disappointed God when your day moves by so quickly and before you know it, you're falling into bed for the night?

Robbie Iobst said...

I remember in college I was a Jesus Freak and the big question we asked each other daily was "How was your Quiet Time?" When I didn't have one, or when I didn't have anything to report from my QT, I would not only feel guilty, but angry. Why was this such a requirement?!!
Years later, I decided to throw away the shackles of guilt and just hang with God. It is an ever changing journey. Sometimes I just sit with Him. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I just memorize. The other day I didn't do anything (I was exhausted with hubby being in hospital) and that old college voice whispered, "How was your QT? Oh, YOU didn't have one? How can you expect your husband to be healed?" Immediately I rebuked that voice. I turned to God and said, "You are right with me, aren't you God? Right here, in this hospital room?" He said, "YES. YES." His presence was enough.

Sharen Watson said...

Robbie... Just like me! It was the Jesus freak days that started the whole QT thing, wasn't it? Oh the 70's... Hanging with God. I like that. Lingering. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as our topic goes. :-)

Robbie, BTW, your post came on twice, so since it was the same thing, I deleted one copy. I read through just to make sure you hadn't added anything new.

Followers, I won't be deleting messages. Rest assured and Linger with me. You're comments are MOST welcome and desired.

Debbie Browne said...

After LINGERING on your question for four days now, I feel like the Lord has spoken to my heart. Spending most of my life trying to please others with the way I please God has left me running on empty. He recently has freed my frustrated efforts and allowed me to experience what it means to run instead of drag my feet. Instead of saying, "Ooooh, I better get out my Bible and spend some time with God....but before I do...let me get the coffee on to wake me up...and maybe I should check my emails first." I now say, "Oh, Daddy God, what is it that you want to show me today? I'm so excited about what I'm going to learn from You. Thanks for a NEW day! You are the love of my life!" As He has been faithful to wake me up around 5:00am to give me the chance to say those words..I work hard at not moving a muscle to wake up the two dogs, one cat, and one husband that is in my bedroom. In the stillness of the early dark hours of the morning I hear my Father whisper to my heart, "I am ALL that you need. Come, let's visit. I have some exciting things for you today!" I, too, grew up with an expected list to follow and came away only with the expected. Now, I live more "dangerously" in the supernatural. I actually don't have an agenda...I say, "Father, show me what you want me to do." That's just the beginning of a beautiful day together!! My love grows for Him, daily, instead of checking everything off my list. Love grows when a relationship is cultivated in a heart that is willing to follow.

Tami Boesiger said...

Of course I feel like I disappoint God when I miss my quiet time, but I'm not sure that's the right attitude to have. It seems like I'm trying to win His favor if the only reason I do it is to keep Him happy. I view it the same way I see my relationship with my husband. I will disappoint him (and my Lord), but he (and my God) doesn't expect perfection. He wants me to come to him because I desire his company, not because I feel obligated.

Sharen Watson said...

Tami,.. Well spoken. Thank you so much for your posts here. :-) I agree... in no way do I want to feel only obligation to Linger with God. I want to crave His presence. And I do... I know He desires my attention toward Him too. That said, without a true "quiet-time (in mother's sense of the word)," am I able to still fulfill my desire and most importantly, HIS?

We're almost leaping into next week's post, ladies. I can tell y'all want more than the foundation for this topic. And me too... :-)

Sharen Watson said...

And Debbie... I like the way you think :-). By the way, your post came up three times. I deleted two of the triplet comments, so rest assured, whatever you did to comment, it did work :-)

Thank you for getting into the mix of this conversation. I appreciate your input so very much.

D. Gudger said...

Ooh. Straight shot to the heart! I've wrestled with this all my life. My "devotional" life can be titled, intentionals.

Growing up in church, going to a Christian college, being in music ministry groups kind of puts the expectation of daily devos on the table. Robbie talked about the, "Hey, how was your quiet time today?" thing.

Not only do I struggle with the daily discipline of it all, I struggle with the methodology. My ADHD colors everything I do. I'm either hyper-focused or a pop-corn popper of attention.

THEY say deovs should be done in the morning. I tried it. Once. THEY say you have to read the Bible and great Christian writers like AW Towzer, Swindol, and so on.

If it's not fiction, I have a hard time getting past page one. If I do get into a study (like Beth Moore), I can do the whole week in one sitting. Why stop when I'm on a roll and absorbing everying. Then my brain is fried and I wait until it's time for the next "assignment."

OTHERS say, "Pray for an hour." I tired that. Once.

I've been given day-by-day thingies to keep by my bed. I have a standing appointment with my bed each night...

Tried that too. More than once.

So, I wallow in a pool of guilt. I sometimes don't devo b/c I'm mad at God. He seems at times, to have forgotten me. I don't see Him providing for those pressing needs He promises to take care of... so attitude, headaches, parenting, chronic pain and illness - these all keep me from doing it.

Oh, can't forget about the "I don't feel like it."

Is it okay to do the Bible thing in intensive doses, then just chat with him throughout the day the rest of the time? does that count? I just can't do a schedule. My whole life revolves around my headaches. Gotta get stuff done in that tiny window of minor pain.

Sharen Watson said...

Darcie... LOVE your transparency. Thank you so much for laying it all out there. There are so many women just like you, who struggle. ADHD is something I fully understand, since I have one child who has it. Headaches... I know that one personally (migraines, but not as much as I used to...Praise the Lord).

Your questions at the end of your post... for now, I'll just say YES. We will work further into this topic as we go.

Again, thank you for your transparent post.

Everyone, let's pray for one another as we move through the in's and out's of this topic.

Cathy Messecar said...

Sharen, thank you for starting this blog. Love it. On hang-ups about spending time in the Word: These past few year have found my husband and me caring for our four parents who live nearby (a blessing) plus running our business, household, grandchildren, nurturing our marriage, and doing the writing thing. O, and there's corporate worship and the church family, too.

Women's specific activities may be different but most of us are busy. Where did we get the idea that we had to read the Bible every day to be close to God? It's a false notion. What about all the years that have passed when most of the women on this earth could not read? How did they connect with God in their daily lives? How did they linger with him? I believe that's why he created prayer conversation with him and sent Jesus to show us service to others and his sweet Holy Spirit to comfort us when when the Evil One accuses, "You didn't read your Bible today." (BTW, I also believe that there are teachers whose gift is studying the word and sharing with others).

I have mulled or meditated on this for years (that women long ago did not have the luxury of reading their Bibles, or the skill of reading) coming to a happy conclusion for my life. On the days I can, I read the Bible and have quiet time. I love the blessings that he showers upon my life when I make the deliberate sacrifice of being in His Presence.

But some days, God calls me to the vineyard. He wants me to pick grapes. On those days, I realize he wants me to interact with people he places in my path.

You have broached a subject dear to my heart and obviously to the hearts of others. I love the comments from others, their transparency and confiding how the Father presents himself to each in their corner of the earth.

I'm working on a new manuscript, for now called Worship Where You Are. You and the others have given me a lot to think about.

May all have no guilt today unless it comes from God as a prompt to change a way of doing or being. Of that happens engage his help to change and move forward in a sacrifice of praise for his goodness.

Sharen Watson said...

Cathy... Thank you for your input. You've brought something up that I never thought of - illiteracy in women of the past. Most women in history were not allowed/expected to be schooled, and therefore the burden of teaching Biblical values fell on the dads/husbands in the household. And they taught verbally - and the girls/women heard.

When women were taken to church/temple, they were in a separate space, set aside for the female gender. Again, they heard...


"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17

We'll dwell on the "hearing" aspect in the near future of LINGER.

Thank you again, Cathy.

Jan Parrish said...

I don't feel guilty when I don't have time for devotions, but I sure miss the lingering.

We have some pretty awesome times in the car, in the shower and on my walks.

I think we need to be careful not to put a time frame on lingering with the Lord. It could be an all day thing or ten minutes. He just wants to be our priority and He doesn't want us to rush off.

Great posting. Looking forward to more.


dwanreed said...

On days when I am really busy, I have to remind myself to be creative with my time in order to have time to have quiet time with God.

I love to listen to CD's of sermons in the car, pray when I stop at a light, or meditate on a verse while I drive. I also like to spend time with God while jogging or walking.

It is a blessing that God is everywhere, all day, everyday. We just have to remember to reach out and touch him.

Dwan Reed

Sharen Watson said...

Dwan... Thank you for your input. I know your work demands a lot of windshield time (as my husband calls it), and there are many others who seem to spend a lot of time behind the wheel too. You've offered great suggestions for those times. Thanks so much. It's about being creative with the time we have, isn't it?

Jan... I love your comments, particularly the one about not rushing off. Thank you for joining in the conversation. You have much to offer, my sweet CO friend.