You’ve no doubt seen it take over your social media. Soft filters on a still scene lit by warm, early-morning light: Bible open, devotional beside it, a journal and pen. Always a fresh, hot coffee. What a beautiful sight. Truth be told, these images portray the sort of set-up I fantasize about -- where real intimacy with the Lord is obtained. Where uninterrupted, cozy pondering of scripture leads to mental breakthroughs, documented in real time within a journal that can be referred to later.
I’ve experienced the sweetness of a quiet corner like this, and I’ve aimed to recreate this many a time over the last dozen years. But, I can probably count on my fingers how many times it’s worked out as I hoped. Much more often than not, as soon as my coffee is poured and I’m settling down in my carefully-arranged nook, the sound of little feet coming downstairs pierces the dream clean through. There can be a sinking feeling, then, of loss of opportunity; of a hijacked intimacy with God.
What a grace it is that many of us have some seasons in our lives where frequent alone time is possible. For me, it was high school and college. While I didn't always take full advantage, there was an abundance of opportunities to get alone with Jesus and worship, pray, read, and reflect. I chose the outdoors, usually, and would drive far enough from civilization that I could sing out loud and stay until my heart was revived from His presence. There wasn’t social media at that time, but there are hundreds of pages of journal entries from which I can still draw encouragement. Far from a wrong approach to time with God, this is a period I look back on with gratitude.
That being said, it is dangerous to consider these idealistic scenarios as necessary criteria for intimacy with God. For the vast majority of our lives, daily time with the Lord will not look this way. If we hold onto the idea that it will, we will be caught waiting for something that is not likely to occur. The result can be a failure to meet with Him at all during our busier times.
The Bible references a “prayer closet” in Matthew 6:6 and Isaiah 26:20. A place of solitude, behind closed doors, where distractions are eliminated and any of our inner desires to be seen or heard would be irrelevant. How desperately the Christian needs this focused time of prayer and meditation. How profitable it is to truly be alone with God! We should not second guess our deep desire for this uninterrupted closeness, and we should seek it wholeheartedly whenever we can. Realistically, though, there are days where this opportunity never presents itself. So, what do we do? Do we forfeit time with the Lord because we refuse to settle for less than ideal? I pray that is not the case, because we will never need Him more than when we are exhausted, distracted, or spiritually uninspired.
I often listen to sermons and podcasts in the morning as I get ready. I love to blast worshipful music as I clean and drive kids around. My prayers sometimes are one-liners, sporadically offered up as I move through the day. For me, the hardest thing by far is making time to read His Word. But, if I set the open Bible out on the counter and see it over and over, chances are I will stop and read bits and pieces as I’m able. Often, the visual reminder helps me to prioritize a deeper time with Him in His Word whenever there is a break in the action.
There are things we can do to remain in constant relationship with our Father – everyday, through any stage of life. They almost never resemble the Instagram images we often set out to duplicate. We cannot afford to wait until they do. We can each expect and hope for seasons when true quiet time is readily available. We can each determine to make more of these no matter what our schedules look like -- because let’s face it -- we are never too busy for the things we most value and prioritize. But, if today you acknowledge your need for Him wherever you are, whatever you have to do, He will bless that humble seeking. He is bigger than the demands and circumstances we find ourselves in, and He knows full well how to reach us within them.
By Anne Gould, wife of Mark Gould
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