Reader Christine writes in with this question:
I have 3 teens and 4 young adults. I re-married 1 year ago and I work full-time. God has really blessed me and I love my life. But there are times when I wish I could spend more time with the Lord. I am not sure what keeps me from taking that time. My husband and kids would not mine at all. I feel as though I’m watching the waters wishing I could jump in, but can’t. Have you ever heard anything like this before?
Chrstine, I know very few women (or men, for that matter) who feel that they give as much time to the Lord as they would like to, or feel they ought to. Especially women who have seven children and a full-time job (even if some of those kids are out of the house!). But the “ought to” is often what holds us back.
But I think a good place to start is to ask yourself, what does “time with the Lord” look like? If it is only an obligation, an “ought to”–that’s hardly compelling. It comes down to this: do you think Jesus is an interesting person, one you’d actually want to spend time with? And if so, what does “spending time” look like?
When you are sitting at the kitchen table listening to your teenager, or when you are doing laundry, or when you are giving your best effort in the workplace, when you are taking a walk around the block to simply clear your head–isn’t God there?
So often we compartmentalize our lives, and we think, we’re only spending time with God when we are sitting studying our Bible, or saying our prayers. Those are great ways to spend time with God, but not the only ways. If God is separate from our “real life” then it makes sense that we would feel like we are standing on the edge of the water, afraid to jump. But what if God is not like water to jump into, but more like the air that is already surrounding us?
The Bible says God is everywhere. So we don’t have to dive into the water, we just have to breathe in his presence. It’s just a matter of becoming aware of the fact that he’s there. We just have to notice him, in everything we do. The Bible often tells us “in all your ways acknowledge him.” (Proverbs 3:6) Acknowledge that he is there. Become aware of his presence. Notice his handiwork all around you, his spirit within you.
When we listen to others, we can ask him for wisdom, and let him guide us. When we are doing work at home or the office, we can see it not as just a task, but as a spiritual discipline of service. As Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Paul’s words here echo the thoughts of Jesus himself, who told us that whatever we do for “the least of these” we do for him. (see Matthew 25:31-45)
So the discipline of service (and certainly housework and parenting are forms of service) has just as much transformational potential as hours of study and prayer–if we are aware that we are doing these tasks for Jesus.
Still, I think that feeling of holding back is normal. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Are you afraid God will ask too much of you? Or that he won’t show up? Again, it comes down to getting to know Jesus and realizing that he is an amazing friend, who is wise, who created all beauty, and who deeply desires to spend time with you.
Readers–let’s hear your thoughts on this! Can you relate to Christine’s questions? Do you agree, or disagree with my thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you.
I love your response to this busy Mom.
So often when my twins were babies, I felt guilty for not “spending time with the Lord.” I remember one Sunday our Pastor asked everyone to sign up for a 30 minute “prayer” shift, and specifically said that we couldn’t do anything *but* pray during that time. I left the service in tears as I realized that I did not have 30 consecutive minutes when I didn’t need to do something else too. (Think pumping breastmilk for preemie twins who each took 30 minutes to eat on a three hour feeding schedule, one with reflux, so the laundry was staggering…)
One early morning as I was pumping, getting ready for another grueling day, I just sat and cried and talked to the Lord about how frustrated I was that I couldn’t participate in the corporate prayer time our church was doing. I felt his presence so completely in those moments, and I knew it was okay. I began to experience his sweet presence while feeding the babies, and I look back now and see how rich that time with the Lord was.
Whenever I hear a Mom feeling *bad* about not having time with God, I ask her to look at her life: what do you have that you can offer Jesus? I believe he wants to be with us too and he will honor this sincere desire of our hearts.
Whether it’s commute time, a walk after dinner, or folding laundry, these can be rich times with Jesus.
thanks for your kind words. Yes, I have a tendency to compartmentalize my life and when His presence shows up ‘out of context’ I get surprised. Keri, as I read your response the Lord spoke to me and showed me that I get tripped up by the way the ‘used’ to spend time with Him. Life is different now, so I have to learn to follow His leading and be with Him where ever I am. I was reminded of the verse in Ecc. that says, “don’t say to yourself why were the former days better that these. You are not considering wisely concerning this.” KJV I didn’t understand this verse for a while but I am seeing it now.
Thank you so much for your encouragement. God is faithful.