Friday, 1 June 2012

Quiet Time or Guilt Time

The other day there was a sale on at the local Christian book store. Since I’ve been getting into my Bible study I thought I could grab a few items to help. I found a book so big you could hurt someone with it, its name is nearly as big as the book.  It’s The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. I understood why “exhaustive” is in the title, as I dragged it to the car!  I texted my husband to warn him of the new (yet very spiritual) purchase on the credit card.  He’s not a miser, but even if he was he could hardly be upset with me.  How much more righteous a purchase does it get!  If only I could figure out how to make new jeans godly!

I got home, dragging inside my exhausting book, careful to not drop it on the cat.  After flicking through it, I realise I have no clue how to use this very impressive looking book.  I read the instructions (yes it even has instructions, but no safety warnings), but I was still lost.  I need to learn how to use this concordance. I had myself a mission, as daunting as this book looks, Bible mysteries await.

Why study the bible when our teachers do a great job of teaching us?  Beth Moore says that we were never intended to get all our Bible study from church on Sundays. As good as the teaching is we receive on Sunday’s, it should not be the only source of feeding from God’s word that we get. With Jesus as our High Priest and The Holy Spirit revealing understanding to all He indwells, we can come directly before him and when we do we have all we need to study God’s word. And listen we definitely don’t need a huge concordance, so don’t use that as an excuse not to get stuck in. 

What has amazed me is that when I spend time in God’s word, only the Bible in my hands, the Holy Spirit reveals new insights to me. The Word of God is a powerful book, it’s alive and relevant in our lives. You can find treasures daily in God’s Word even without a concordance.

I’m often confessing.  The only reason I confess to you is in case by some small miracle you can learn from my mistakes.  My confession?  Okay.  Deep breath.  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I was raised in a Christian home, I knew the right things to do and say.  I interpreted some of the teachings very black and white.  Here goes: I thought Quiet Times were horrid! Quiet time is a discipline, so I was told.  A smack (which wasn’t illegal back in my day) was also called discipline.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  Discipline hurt, a smack hurt, so did the fact that I deserved it.  If I attached pain to discipline, it’s no wonder quiet times became torturous.  I looked forward to them as much as a smack! I gave up on them, for many years, only to rediscover them just recently in a new and wonderful way that was nothing of my own doing. 

I awoke one morning early, so I thought to myself, I might as well get up and pray.  It was a strange thought to me because I love my sleep, but this morning I was refreshed and wide awake at 6am, so I went with it.  It was ok.  The next morning the same thing happened, I was woken, was well rested and ready to go for the day, so got up and had some time with God.  This kept happening, I realised after a few days I was praying before bed that God would wake me up, as I was enjoying my time with him.  I think this was when I got a little smug.  I loved that God wanted to spend time with me and would wake me up to do it.  Then I slept in!  I was so disappointed.  It made me realised, this is a relationship that needs my input, I’m not a new born that just takes, I need to show God I’m in this too.  So to be sure I got to have my time the next morning I put my alarm on.  Since then I have had the pleasure of time with God to start my day, most days anyway.  I’m not legalistic about this, if something happens and children are sick or awake half the night or I am, I don’t force myself to have a quiet time.  I’d hate for a friend to ‘have to’ spend time with me when they weren’t up for it.  Obligation friendship is no friendship at all.

Let this be in no way a guilt-trip for you.  I have had seasons in my life where sleep is limited or bordering on a luxury, so if you deal with insomnia or are Mum of little ones, don’t take this as a guilty slap round the face, think of it as a season to look forward to or make it your own, and create something that works for you now.

Guilt is out, I did sporadic quiet times for years that were based on guilt, and the difference now is monumental. Much to my surprise I love getting up and spending time with God, it’s great, not guilt.  I’d love for you to love to get up and spend time with the God, the God of creation, the God who made the Himalayas and tiny wee fruit flies.  The God who wants to spend time with you.  Why?  Because He loves you, not because He has to, but because He wants to, and even though we will never be able to reciprocate equally, God wants us to want to.

“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Eph 1: 5-8 NIV – emphasis mine)

There is just so much in that passage of God’s Word. But if you only have space in your head for one thing, let it be this; He loves you. You are His daughters (and sons), chosen.  Just because it pleases Him and because He wants to. He has lavished His grace on us, lavished!  Lavished – meaning stingy?  Not likely! Generous, abundant, copious, bountiful, prolific, extravagantly, over-the-top, unrestrained, or smother with.  Do you get the picture? His love and grace He offers to you, without restraint, because He wants to.  He wants to meet with you, because He wants to, but He wants you to want to also.  Will you think about having a chance to enjoy time with God, you set the terms, no giant concordance necessary, and see if you have a quiet time because you want to.

1 comment:

  1. hey Ingy, all good stuff here. really dig what you're sharing about getting rid of guilt and finding that God is able to share himself with us in a way that intuitively causes us to want more. i'm definitely into wanting to want to enjoy Him and time with him. thanks for sharing. Ruth :)


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