We've all said it. We may have grown up hearing it. When someone asks us about our priorities, we tend to list God first, then husband, children, etc. Chances are that if you grew up in a Christian home or going to church, this was the norm - the "right" answer. But is it true? Is God really first?
As I have started thinking about morning routines and all that I would like to get accomplished in a day, embarking on this whole Maximize Your Mornings commitment - I have taken a hard look at His place in my list of to-dos. For years I have purposed to get up daily and read the Word. I have not always succeeded in that goal and there have been some seriously dry times in my life when I wouldn't even make myself do it. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it seemed like there were so many other things that "had" to get done.
God has used those dry times in my life. I'm not doubting that. Honestly, though, they have been much harder than needed to be and ultimately, were used for one big main goal - to draw me closer to Him, to make me realize my need for Him - for time in His Word, for communion with Him, for praise and honor to Him, for refreshment, fulfillment, and feeding - on Him. So, really, it comes back to spending time with Him. If I would have just obeyed, I'd have had an easier time of it.
I should have listened the first (second, third....) time - but I didn't. My spiritual life grew stagnant and boring. I wasn't growing. I wasn't changing. I wasn't being all that God had called me to be - simply because I wasn't spending time with Him.
Why do we think we can get away with that? At least for any length of time. I mean... sure, there will be days that we don't get in the Word - a day here, a day there. But a week here, a month there - man, we are in for some hard and dry times. Our heart becomes hard. We sin; often times without even knowing it. We are grieving the Holy Spirit.
If God truly has the power that we say He does - why aren't we trying to learn from Him? If He is supposed to be our best friend, why aren't we receiving His phone calls? Since He speaks to us through His word, we should be longing to have that call with Him each day. We'd never ignore a phone call from one of our closest friends. Again - this is me speaking from experience. I have most definitely not arrived. I'm still figuring this stuff out and convicted daily of these very things. When I made His word a real priority in my life, my life started changing; my walk with Him started changing; my family started changing.
I've been reading Elizabeth George's Life Management for Busy Women. (on a side note: I just had a discussion with Big P and the Big kids about the fact that "woman" makes me sound old. I don't feel like a woman. I forget my age - I think I'm still in my 20s.)
If you also want to make God first in your life (for real!), here are some tips Elizabeth shares. You must read her book, though, because I'm not going to elaborate on them much.
- Refuse to miss a day. You can use the quiet times calendar I posted. Be faithful in just one thing - spending a portion of your day reading your Bible.
- Pray as you approach God's Word - I'm realizing that this doesn't have to be a sit down and pray sort of a prayer. When I get up in the morning, I'm talking to God. I'm going to the restroom and drinking my glass of water and talking to God. I'm thanking Him for the morning that He has allowed me to enjoy and asking that He open my eyes (figuratively and literally at 5 am) to His word and plan for me for the day. I'm certain that this is what is meant by praying without ceasing (1 Thesselonians 5:17). I have another prayer time after I read, but this is to really set the tone for my quiet time.
- Consume God's Word in various ways. Listen to teaching on your ipod or DVD. This book was written in 2002, so she is still saying tapes and videos. Some that I love are: Cindy Rushton, Jim Berg, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Also check out the Embassy Institute from IBLP. Listen to praise songs and hymns. Ones we love around here are: David Nevue, Serene and Pearl, and Val Halloran.
- Find a rhythm or a pattern that fits your lifestyle. Find a time for reading your Bible that fits your lifestyle - but do find it and don't use a busy life as an excuse (her words, not mine. :D). She really stresses time, first time, early time.
- Be a woman of one Book - the Book. If you only have time to read one book, make it THE book. "First, make it a rule to read what honors God's standards and glorifies Him." Put away all the magazines and stuff that doesn't edify. Even if it is a Christian book, and you aren't reading the Word regularly, put it away until you get into the habit of spending more time reading His words than others'.
- Be accountable. Check this out: "Thomas Edison made it his practice to first announce his intentions on a given project, then get into the laboratory, get busy, and make the announcement become a reality!" Do you have someone that will check in on you? Accountability can be a convictingly (not a word, apparently) good thing!
- Beat the family. Seriously - that's what she says. Ha. Get up earlier than your family gets up. See the Maximize Your Mornings challenge to wake up for your children, not to your children.
- Teach your children. Have a table time reading and studying God's word. We are just starting this and it is becoming such a blessing! Teach your children to be in their Word. Ingrain this habit in them from childhood. If they can read, they need a quiet time. I highly recommend the Discover 4 Yourself studies for children 8-12 or so.
- Purpose to get up. "Surely, any woman with any passion for anything makes sure she gets up to enjoy that passion!"
- Aim for more time. Two principles she shares, "Something is better than nothing and Always aim for more."
My prayer for you is that time with God is a priority for you or becomes so. Treasure it. Cherish it. Live it.
pic from: http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html