Confession: Extra v Essential

Confession: I slacked big time in my devotions.

I did the bare minimum work in my group Bible studies and used my rote knowledge to answer the questions. Instead of focusing on drawing near to the Lord, I focused on checking off the box on my to do list.

What happened? I grew self absorbed. I filled my time with meaningless television or mindless scrolling on social media, snapped at my children for simply acting like children, and huffed around the house for a full week. I was seriously like a teenager again! My poor family.

It started with one missed day, completely on accident. I didn’t even realize it until a day or two later. But that slip up creates a slope. I rationed out my time catching up on shows with the excuse that once I got to the winter finale I wouldn’t have anything to watch for months. I became a screen zombie as I scrolled through internet compilations of the worst ER visits or wedding disasters and before I knew it the whole morning had passed me by. I made “frozen-and-ready-in-30-minutes” meals because I was so distracted I forgot to start dinner on time. One day turned to two. Two turned to five. Excuses multiplied and I was stuck in a negative attitude with a headache and children who flinched because I snapped at them so often.

I was not in a good place.

I needed to get back on track.

Who is the most important human in your life? Or who gets most of your attention right now? Your child, husband, boyfriend, best friend, mother? If you went a day without talking to that person when would you notice? If you didn’t see that person for a week would you miss them? If you were grabbing coffee with that person, would you get distracted and start scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix?

That is what happened to me. I would be reading my Bible, have a thought and pick up my phone to check something before I forgot, and then half an hour went by as I scrolled and checked notifications. I would get to the end of the day and realized I hadn’t prayed once the entire day besides at meals, and that is more out of habit than actual communication with God. My life began to revolve around me and my wants and not around God and His desires.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I claim to love Christ. Why then do I fail to spend time with Him each day? How can I go a week without listening to Him and not notice? That isn’t love on my part. When I am not actively following Christ each day, then I begin to rely on my own strength and “all things” quickly becomes “some things”.

“I can do some things through myself who gives me strength.”

In my own strength, I quickly discover just how weak I am. I cannot properly love my children. I am a selfish human who needs sleep and wants to simply take a shower without playing toddler 20 questions in the morning. In my own strength when these needs and wants are not met I get frustrated and that spills over onto my children. But when I am relinquishing my right and my will to Christ every day, then through His strength I am able to respond patiently and gently and kindly to my children.

I needed to get back on track.

Friend, God is ready and waiting to forgive. How freeing! I felt discouraged with myself and I asked God for forgiveness for my poorly used time. I sat down and opened my Bible. I had taken a break from Isaiah, but started back where I left off and read, “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay.” (Isaiah 46:12-13) The note in my Bible (The ESV Study Bible) says, “God does not need his people’s faith to carry him forward. He will keep his promises to them for reasons springing from his own nature and purpose.” I was faithless, but He remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

As I opened my Bible for the first real time in a week, I read first one chapter. Then another and another. You know how sometimes you take a sip of water and then drink a whole glass when you hadn’t even realized you were thirsty? I was so thirsty for the Lord. I was dry and weak but I could feel the river of life quenching a thirst I had tricked myself into ignoring. It strengthened me and reawakened my understanding of my daily need for time with my Lord and reading His Word.

***The above was written before Christmas, but it may as well have been written today. I have treated my quiet time as something extra instead of something essential. I have patted myself on the back for a few areas of recent growth but neglected to refill my cup with living water each day for further growth.

A lie I so easily believed (and fall prey to time and time again) was digesting the words of Bible study leaders and devotional books, but not spending time injesting the actual Word of God. I am so very thankful for good Biblical leaders, authors, and educators but my sole purpose is to glorify God by knowing Him and making Him known. I am not called to know the words of Jen Wilkin and preach the good news of her life. I am called to know the Words of my God, which is living and active and has been proven to speak life to me time and time again, and preach His good news. The Good News of Jesus Christ.

Especially in preparation for Easter, I am listening to God and praising Him for His faithfulness, His goodness, and His redemptive work in my life every day. Praise the Lord, oh my soul.

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