Exodus 16: 4, 12, 18 CSB
"I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather
enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they follow My instructions.
"At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then
you will know that I am the LORD your God."
the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no
shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat.
Last year I read a book titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. In this book, he mentioned a practice he started called The Daily Office. The essential idea is to stop at different points in the day to have time with God. Scazzero learned of the practice after spending a week with trappist monks and saw it as their means to remain aware of God's presence while they worked to enable them to maintain healthy balance in their lives. (p.157)
Scazzero continued his quest to understand this by studying David, Daniel, Jesus, and Benedict. He shares that All these people realized that the stopping for the Daily Office to be with God is the key to creating a continual and easy familiarity with God's presence the rest of the day. It is the rhythm of stopping that makes the 'practice of the presence of God' a real possibility. (p.159)
I was reminded of this concept yesterday when I read Matthew 11:28-29 in The Message.
Come to Me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with Me.....watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you will learn to live freely and lightly.
For I am gentle and humble in heart
and you will find rest for your souls.
This is what I have realized since starting this:
1. If I don't move through my morning quiet time in mechanical way from one thing to the next, each thing I read has time to sink in.
2. Taking time throughout the day, in little pockets of time that are naturally built in (like when I sit down to eat my lunch or wait in the car for the kids to get out of school), has increased the level of calm in my heart because I am realigning my heart periodically.
3. I have yet to gather too much or too little. Sometimes God intervenes with a circumstance as if to say, "That's enough for now.....I'll see you in a little while." This was beyond evident yesterday when I planned on continuing in my devotional book after writing this:
I keep thinking of what I have yet to do and all I want to do is just be quiet and still and
let words wash me, make me new, help me see truth and uncover lies. I forgot how good
it feels to be slow, deliberate, intentional, and flowing freely in the rhythm I was created
to move. I just want to keep breathing slowly, at the pace designed specifically for me.
Within 2 minutes, my husband sent me a text that he was on his way home from our daughter's orthodontist appointment ~ about 30 minutes sooner than I thought he would. He came home and needed to eat lunch. This involved chips which means no more 'quiet time' because now, chips. So what did I do? Go in our bedroom, close the door, put a pillow over my head, and took a short nap. If he hadn't come home when he did, I'd have kept going. But Jesus knew the unforced rhythm of grace I needed and that included an unscheduled nap.
4. This is not a cookie cutter plan. What I need in the morning is different than what I get mid-morning after I get a few things done. It's different than what I read at lunch, picking up the kids, and if I read later in the day. (typically if I am taking my kids to student ministry and I am waiting for them) Every day is unique.
I realize this sounds luxurious. And I suppose in a way it is. I certainly feel lavishly loved. And if you'd asked me if I thought I could manage this 2 months ago, I'd have laughed ~ loud, hard, and long. But after being made aware of how much what seemed innocent (scrolling facebook) was robbing me of joy, I decided to try spacing things out instead of looking for updates. I realized that I can read while waiting in a doctor's office instead of staring at mindless tv. And I figured out that my car is a really quiet place to read.
But what we all need to realize is that God wants us to come to Him as often as we need. He knows what the perfect amount of time is. And after awhile, we'll all start to notice some pretty significant changes....in our attitudes, stress levels, ability to assess situations before responding, meet needs, etc. What I've been talking about, letting myself get filled and then serving from that overflow, is actually happening. And it's nice. Really nice. And it's not just for me. It's for you, too.
I may not know what your current schedule looks like, but God does. And I may not be able to tell you how it will fit into each day, but God can. And it may not feel like you have the strength to do this or remember to start, but God will remind you. He has so much for each of us and His Spirit will empower us to do what we feel we can't afford to even try. We have that Spirit in us and it is trying to raise our life back to where it was always meant to be: in communion with Him. Let's let Him love us straight back to the unforced rhythm of grace He's uniquely designed for our lives. It's worth it. I promise.
The devotional book I am reading in the afternoons is Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray.