Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Devotions Look Like These Days

The cell phone alarm vibrates under my pillow and before I can direct my floundering fingers to the Snooze, the whispers begin:

Get up, you lazy bum!  You've got to get your Quiet Time in before the kids wake up!  Be honest: if you don't do it now, you NEVER will.  And then how will you be a good example to them?

I slide out from beside the snoring Edmund, pray that Harriet's eyeballs will stay closed, and fumble my way through the dark closet in hopes of finding something socially acceptable to wear.

Don't put that gross shirt on!  You've got to wear something feminine and cute if you are going to FEEL feminine and cute today...and you know that's what you're supposed to do for your husband.

After the speediest shower in the west, each moment straining my ears for the sound of the slightest whimper from the bedroom, I don my cute-r clothes and sneak into the living room.  There is the black computer screen to my right and...where is my Bible?  In the car from Sunday...I'll have to find Steve's...I hope I can remember which Daily Reading I need to read...was it Psalm 45 or 46?  I glance at the calendar and try to count it out on my fingers.

Don't even think about the computer.  Don't you know that what you think about the most every day reflects what you worship?  You've got to have your devotions FIRST or your brain will be clogged up with Facebook and Pinterest feeds and emails.

I plop down on the couch with a bowl of homemade granola drenched in coconut milk (gotta keep the digestive system in check) and flip Steve's gigantor ESV Study Bible open to the Psalms.  It has to be Psalm 46, I think.  After a quick Please-Show-Me-Something prayer, I begin to read.

Are you meditating enough?  You are reading too fast.  Slow down.  You'll be done in only 10 minutes.

Just because you don't know the meaning of that passage doesn't mean that you should skip over it.  Look at the notes...but what if those notes aren't the RIGHT interpretation? How will you ever know exactly the perfect answer?

Don't let your brain go there.  Don't doubt God purposes and lovingkindness.  Keep on track.  Don't wander into questioning the role of suffering in the will you get revved up for your day if you are feeling like God is such a big ol' meanie?  

Stop thinking about Facebook.  Stop thinking about your lists.  Stop thinking about the smell of dog poop and the dirty diapers and the pants you need to hem.  THINK ABOUT GOD!  DO YOUR DEVOTIONS!

"But I don't like it!"

I'm shocked to hear my own voice say the words that I have been suppressing for days, weeks, even years.  It's undeniably true: every morning I dread the spiral of second-guessing, the reminder of my complete inadequacy, and the tightrope of keeping the correct mental "devotional" state.  

The kids are still sleeping (because apparently today isn't the day to get up at the slightest crack of dawn) and I stare at the wall not knowing what to do next.

Then, quietly, out of the temporary mental stalemate, comes the phrase:
I am accepted, therefore I obey.

I am accepted, therefore I obey.  How easy it is to nod my head in agreement and say, Amen!  But does that apply in Real Life?  Is it really absolutely true?
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by naturechildren of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doingit is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

I am accepted, therefore I will spend time in God's Word without feeling like I'm walking a mental tightrope.

I am accepted, therefore I not be afraid to ask the hard questions and seek truth.

I am accepted, therefore I will not feel bad if I only have time to read one verse before the kids wake up.

I am accepted, therefore I can be a tired and distracted mother-of-two-under-two without self-condemnation.

I am accepted, therefore I am free to follow the Spirit's leading in matters of personal relationships and responsibilities (and if Steve really and truly cares what shirt I'm wearing and if homemade granola is really more spiritual than store-bought).

I am accepted, therefore I will show my children the reality of a relationship with God, not the glossed over version.

I am accepted, therefore I will not think that my right standing before God is based on the quality of my Quiet Time.

I am accepted not because of anything I have done (ever!) but because of the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus.  It is His gift.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

I am accepted, therefore the whispers are silenced.