Sometimes I have those quiet times with the Lord where I just feel like I love Him and I feel close to Him. Everything around me is just beautiful–the sun is rising, the birds are chirping. I woke up on time and I don’t feel rushed and it’s like the Scriptures I’m reading just make perfect sense. It’s all just Instagram worthy you know? Pretty background, Bible open, half drank cup of coffee next to the Bible. I honestly have left quiet times feeling on cloud 9, but if I were being honest, those times are actually few and far between. And if I were being even more honest, the times I have felt like that probably have a lot more to do with the circumstances around me versus my actual time with the Lord.
I’ve begun the In the Garden study with Thistlebend. I’m always tempted at the beginning of a new study to think that this is going to be the study that I’m going to really feel close to the Lord because I’m going to do it perfectly (i.e. I won’t sleep in any, I’ll always do each day when I’m supposed to, I’ll always complete each day, and I’ll always feel just great and refreshed after each day of the week). Let’s just say the Lord has made it clear already in the first week that this study is not supposed to go how I think it should, but how He knows it should.
While I know that feelings don’t dictate what is true, I do happen to like those mornings when my quiet times feel productive, feel like there’s progress made, where I feel like I love the Lord and I have a desire to worship Him–and not just for an Instagram shot! This morning, however, as I’m going on my fourth day of week one, was not one of those mornings. I confess, my quiet time began this morning because I felt obligated, I felt like it was something I needed to cross off my list before I could really get to the bulk of my day. I began with the Praise and Thanks section of the study feeling anything but good feelings about praising and thanking the Lord. I was going through the motions and I hated it but didn’t really know what to do about it. God in His sweetness and grace knew though.
He started working what He had planned for my morning during the Praise and Thanks section too, but I just didn’t realize it yet. Psalm 105:5 stuck out to me on the page: “Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he uttered.” I circled the word remember. I went on to the Listening to God section and wrote in my journal the truth of Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I also wrote down in my journal 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost,” and Deuteronomy 5:15, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
The Lord was working and I started to really meditate on the truth of Galatians 2:20. The Word says that I no longer live, which means that my wants, my ways, my fears, my schedule, etc., these things don’t have power or take precedence because it’s not me who lives, but Christ who lives in me. This truth also says that because of His love, the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in Him because He gave His life for me. I wrote in my journal, “which is why He should live through me, I owe Him my life.” It was around this time that the Lord began to convict me as I read 1 Timothy 1:15 and then Deuteronomy 5:15 and thought back to Psalm 105:5 about remembering. Remembering what the Lord has done for me, remembering that I am nothing without the Lord. I’d like to tell you that as I entered into the Confession section of Day Four that my heart was saddened and I was mourning my sin and cried out to the Lord for help. Instead I got a phone call from my husband before that happened. He needed me to be somewhere in about 30 minutes.
I was so annoyed. I not only had over 30 minutes of quiet time left to complete, but I also had dirty dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, a workout not done yet, and a not showered self. You see, while I know it’s ridiculous really, I hate to leave my house undone. And when I have a plan in my head of how my day is going to go and then it gets scrambled, I don’t handle it well. I didn’t want to leave my house to go where he needed me to go because in my mind that wasn’t a part of the no agenda day that I had planned. (Yes I realize the irony in that sentence!) I was so rude to him and huffed and puffed while getting off the phone. Since I was already being convicted before the phone call, I was even more so once I hit the end button. To add fuel to the fire, this wasn’t just something my husband wanted for himself or something that could be done later. This was something that arose because of the amazing gift that I’ve been writing about lately that the Lord did actually give us. And here I was huffing and puffing about it instead of remembering what the Lord had done! Not to mention that I had just wrote down the truth that I no longer live so my plans no longer take precedence.
I confessed to the Lord in my journal:
“Lord, I hate how I just acted to my husband. I just was anticipating a no agenda day and because of me wanting the schedule in my way I got frustrated. Things don’t have to be done before I leave the house like I think they do. I feel pressure that doesn’t exist, like that leaving the house undone somehow fails my husband, which is just silly. What a perfect time to talk about rest as I feel most at peace when all things are crossed off my to-do list or when I have my own plan of how it will get done. My own plan—not yours. My peace should not come from a clean, organized house or a crossed off to-do list, or my plan working out. It should come from you alone, that you are in control and you live through me. Lord, I’ve fallen into the temptation now that you have given us this sweet gift and things are moving in our favor, [of not praying] as diligently to you. We praised you for the gift and now that it’s reality how quickly I forget where it came from. This is just like with my salvation too, Lord. I don’t remember your works, I don’t remember that you alone live through me. The focus is on me. I get my way and move on or pout and get cranky about schedule changes. Lord, will you please forgive me? Will you please grant me grace to repent—you’re more real than the need to do dishes or make the bed or fluff the pillows. You are the real reality. Help me, Father.”
The Lord made such a connection with me about the way I acted—pouty and annoyed over things not going my way this morning and how easily I forget His works. Not only the works of the earthly gift that He just gave me and my husband, but even His greatest work on the cross for me. The truth is, Christ now lives in me. I no longer live. When my flesh wants to flare up and live out more than Christ in me, and I see it all happening in front of my eyes, then I don’t have those feel good quiet times. But even though I didn’t feel good this morning, what I did see was that Christ does in fact live in me. While my flesh reared her ugly head, He worked to convict me and sanctify me in His truth and allowed me grace to see my sin and confess my sin. God had His way this morning in my quiet time and with my schedule. And that, dear sisters, is what by His grace I do want–even if it doesn’t feel good. I want my ways and my plans more often than not, but He is God and I am not, and His ways will prevail. I’m thankful that I got to see that this morning.
Let us all remember that He is God and we are not. May we all remember His wondrous works and that if we are in Christ, we no longer live, but He lives in us! And Lord, please help us all push through the temptation of discouragement if we don’t feel something in our times with you and trust that you are there and at work.
Planted for His Glory