Resolved

During a weak moment in our ladies Bible study this past Thursday, I admitted to having resolved once upon a time to NOT have a daily personal quiet time. I had a VERY good explanation for having done so at the time and the more I think about it the more I realize some of you moms with a littles at home might need to do the same thing. So I scrolled through my files and found an essay I had written explaining my rather unorthodox devotional habits. Not sure if I ever posted it or not, so here it is for either your reading pleasure or open rebuke.

Why I Resolved NOT to Have a Daily Personal Quiet Time

If I had a picture of a steaming hot latte next to my journaling Bible with a plethora of colored gel pens strewn about on the quant cafe table, I’d insert it here. Of course that would not be my reality but apparently it is for scores of Christian women whose Instagram and Facebook posts provide photo documentation of this most essential element of our faith: the Daily Personal Quiet Time. Just Google “quiet time with God images” and you’ll see what I mean. For years, I listened to authors and speakers who insisted that this was the key to a meaningful relationship with Christ and I tried desperately to duplicate these images in my own life. As a young single woman I met with only some success in developing devotional habits. Once married it was even more of a challenge to carve out “alone time.” By the time our fifth child arrived, I realized if it was impossible for me to even go to the bathroom or make a phone call without constant interruption, it was probably unrealistic of me to keep trying to recreate these daily personal quiet time experiences in my own life. After all, the life God has blessed me with is anything but “personal” or “quiet.” If I can’t even manage to shower daily, how could I possibly be expected to slip away for any substantial amount of time for a “washing by the Word?” (Eph. 5:26)

As a wife and homeschooling Mom of five active boys, the fact is, my time is not my own. At least for this season, it belongs to the ones the Lord has placed in my care. One of the most freeing moments of my life was when I realized that my home and family and the myriad of demands associated with them were not road blocks to a closer walk with the Lord. They were the path on which I journeyed. God put my feet on this ancient path called Marriage and Family and my job is to stay on it, ignore the distracting detours and run with endurance this race that’s been marked out for me. Sticking close to The Shepherd isn’t a matter of scheduling my time. It’s really a matter of surrendering myself to the role He has given me. The Shepherd Himself promises to stick close to me through this season. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

The fact that The Good Shepherd acknowledges the unique needs associated with this mothering season of life should give us pause to consider the unique place time in the Word might have for mothers of little ones and how that might look very different from a young college woman or an empty nester. For example, I am blessed to be the beneficiary of relationships with “older-ish” women whose season of life allows them the luxury of long, quiet hours in the Word. They, like the Psalmist can say, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice (Psalm 5:3)” and “I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalm 63:6).” But they, like the Psalmist, also are not in a season of life in which their whole being is completely consumed with the never-ending task of caring for the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of little ones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our Shepherd knows those demands well enough to have outlined some of them in Proverbs 31. Please note that the one thing that got our Proverbial Icon out of bed before dawn was the job of putting food on the table. Nowhere do we read of the Proverbs 31 woman or any other mother in scripture ducking out for private devotions. But somehow we’ve been led to believe that if we could just achieve everything on that list of 31 AND maintain a picturesque personal devotional life, that THEN we will be on track to a meaningful walk with the Lord. Or, we take another route and let the actual demands of a wife, mother, and homemaker fall by the wayside in order to pursue the path of personal devotions.

Consider, my friends, Titus 2:3-5. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self- controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, THAT THE WORD OF GOD MAY NOT BE REVILED.” In other words, when we neglect our duties as wives, mothers, and home-keepers, even for as noble a reason as a daily personal quiet time, we are actually causing the Word of God to be reviled! Is it possible that this standard of spirituality pervading our Instagram and Facebook pages is nothing more than a subtle form of idolatry? In today’s image-driven culture the quiet-time image is a pretty attractive picture of the Christian walk. And the pictures make it look so easy! If being a Christian woman means a journal and gel pens at the local coffee shop, who wouldn’t be in? But then as soon as we set out to recreate that image in our own lives the “distractions” set in and we fail miserably at our pursuit. I can’t tell you how many women have shared with me the same sense of frustration and failure at not having achieved a consistent daily personal quiet time alone with the Lord. Sadly, I think the result of this sense of failure has been that the precious Word of God is more neglected today than it’s ever been. We come to the Bible looking for an idealistic experience, when God wants us to come looking for Him. How will we ever find the Author if it’s an idol we’re after?

When the Israelites were given the law in Deuteronomy 6, it came with these instructions, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall TEACH them diligently to your children, and shall TALK of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise.” Notice how God didn’t tell them to grab a cup of kosher coffee, find a quiet place alone in the desert, journal their responses and repeat daily. The Word was first and foremost a corporate gift and thus deserves a corporate grappling. And the primary place God has provided for it’s flourishing is within the family. But I don’t see a lot of Instagram posts with the caption, “this is me diligently teaching God’s Word to my children.” Or “here’s our family talking about the Bible on our way to the store.” That aspect of the Christian walk just isn’t quite as picturesque. Yet, the mother who sequesters her Bible reading to a quiet corner of solitude is missing out on the greatest opportunity of her life and one that is guaranteed to exponentially reap the greatest reward. After all, the Author Himself does promise in Isaiah 55:10-11,

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth: it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

If I could encourage mothers in any way it would be take their Bibles out of the coffee shop and put it back in the family room. Go ahead and resolve to start reading your Bible. But who are you kidding? If you’re a busy mom you could probably count on one hand the things that actually get done every single day. So don’t set yourself up for failure. Is the living, active, God-breathed Word important to you? Then live like it. But live it in a way that matches the life God’s given you; which for most busy Moms is a) not personal, b) not quiet, and c) not exactly brimming with leisure time. So gather your little flock around and make them a part of your ALMOST-DAILY-NOT-SO-QUIET-TIME with the Lord. Just open your Bible and read it. Out loud. To your children. And if they don’t get it, explain it to them.

And if you don’t get it. Keep reading. Scripture is pretty good at explaining itself and eventually you’ll come across a passage that will make whatever you didn’t understand make sense. Psalm 19:7 says the Bible can make wise even the simple. But be diligent in your teaching and determined in your talking. When you are sitting together, when you are traveling together, from sunrise to sundown, determine that the Word of God will dwell richly in your conversation.

So if you, like countless others this year, have failed in your resolution to have a consistent daily personal quiet time maybe you should consider your situation, your season in life. Is it marked by the crowded, noisy, chaotic, messy, demanding nature of motherhood? Then consider your Shepherd. He knows this and wants to gently lead you through it. He’s given you a flock of your own to nurture and is calling you to feed and feast TOGETHER on His Living Word.

Resolve to give it a taste and you will see that THE LORD IS GOOD.

Still, My Soul, Be Still

8 years ago, we were living across the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was expecting our fifth son and was busy trying to keep our four other little boys under control in our rented third floor condo in an upscale beach front resort (Long story how we ended up in such an unlikely housing situation for a growing young family). But anyway there I was surrounded by my boys and retirees and tourists all day while Tom was off at work. Pretty much not a day went by that I didn’t find myself sitting in front of the computer with tears streaming down my face wondering how I was going to manage life with a new baby, while singing along through my sobs to a Youtube video of the Getty hymn, “Still, My Soul, Be Still.”

A month ago my oldest son arranged a version of that same hymn for my Birthday. He finally put his performance up on Youtube and it couldn’t be more timely with all the election madness we’re experiencing today. Be sure to read the lyrics as you listen. Also be sure to like and subscribe to Titus’s channel. Click here

Still, my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow
God, You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone
Still, my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptation’s flaming arrows
God, You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone
Still, my soul be still
Do not forsake
The truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise
As stars appear when day is dimming
God, You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone

Tolle Lege: Stack Attack

Enough is enough. The stack must be mitigated. I owe it to Crossway and Baker to at least mention that they sent me a couple of books, I added them to my stack, I failed miserably at consuming them in a timely manner and now I have to rearrange the literary rampart to retrieve them, review them, and reassess my reading strategy.

I suppose the best way to attack a library pile would be alphabetically.

So first: “Anyone But Me: 10 Ways to Overcome Your Fear and Be Prepared to Share the Gospel” by Ray Comfort. I love this guy. I’ve binge watched his evangelistic Youtube videos and followed his work with Living Waters Ministry. Our family has even handed out copious amounts of his tracts. But I’d never read one of his books. Can I just say, his message loses just a tiny bit of attraction without the New Zealand accent?

Although the accent may be missing from the book, the blunt, methodical, somewhat sarcastic style remains and is an easy going, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, delight to read. Ray Comfort can pierce your conscience with daggers and make you like it at the same time. This book is full of great stories that illustrate practical methods of evangelism but makes you squirm for liking the stories so much while having very little intention of learning the hard lessons from them.

But that discomfort is a good thing. As he says on p136, “Pain and discomfort often lead to action.” I can’t imagine anyone finishing this book and not being changed by it.

And now “An Introduction to John Owen” by Crawford Gribben. I’ve read biographies of puritans before and loved them. In fact one of my most recommended books ever is the 2-volume set “Memorable Women of the Puritan Times” by James Anderson. I thoroughly enjoyed Iain Murray’s “New Biography of Jonathan Edwards” and consider Leland Rykan’s “Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were” a must read for everyone. So I truly believe reading ABOUT the puritans can be a weighty delight.

Gribbon’s take on Owen however, I found neither weighty nor delightful. One would benefit far more from just reading another book BY Owen then this one ABOUT him. The format however was intriguing. Gribbon divides Owen’s life into four sections: Childhood, Youth, Middle Age, and Death and Eternal Life. As one would expect the author chronicles all the major events, both personal and political, of each of those eras. But Gribbon further utilizes that framework to introduce some of Owen’s writings by cataloging their subject matter according to these relative life stages.

For example when writing about Owen’s birth and childhood, Gribbon takes the opportunity to survey Owen’s writings on baptism and the education and catechizing of children. And when delving into his latter years he covers Owen’s writings on suffering, grief, the resurrection and the glories of heaven. This format added just enough interest to the otherwise dry compilation of facts to make the book bearable but not much more than that.

So with the obligatory reviews out of the way, what’s left in my personal reading pile? To begin with there’s Thomas Sowell’s “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” for going to war against our homeschool hating governor, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” for reading on the water whenever I’m near some, and Joe Rigney’s “Strangley Bright” for reading with the women of Sheologians book club. Plus there’s all the stuff I’m reading aloud for the younger boys: “Story of the World,” “Exploring Creation Through Zoology,” Ogden Nash’s “Zoo” plus “Ave Ogden” cause if you’re gonna read Nash ya might as well do it in Latin. Then there’s all the High School material I have to cover for the older boys: German, Government and Econ, American Lit, History… it all adds up. Attack the stack, people! Tolle lege! Veni, vidi, vici and all the rest. Whatever. Just read. It’s good for you.