2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
My husband sometimes comes home with new organizational systems that will change the landscape of his desk forever. I have been known to reorganize my pantry now and then and usually this involves the purchase of something made by Sterilite, Rubbermaid or Ikea. My own desk could use a bit of a renovation at the moment. The idea behind all of this is that we sometimes just need a new plan… a new system… and then all of this mess will be ironed out and go away forever! Problem is, we still have to maintain it no matter what system we put in place. But sometimes that new plan or system really does motivate us to get into gear.
As a pastor’s wife what I am about to confess to you might come as a shock, but if you’ve been reading my blog long enough you may have accustomed yourself to the idea that my being a pastor’s wife has not made me any sort of superhuman. I frequently have a mountain of laundry on my couch or living room floor. I yell at my kids. I often have dishes in the sink that need washing. I get snippy with my husband. If I’m catching up in one area I am inevitably slacking in another. As is true with many people, too many spinning plates eventually makes for lots of broken glass — just what we need — another mess to clean up!
My confession here though is not that I have dirty dishes in the sink or that I have on occasion let the sun go down on my anger or that once or twice I have opened my dresser in the morning and found myself in the awkward position of discovering that my underwear drawer is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, at which time I awaken from that horrible nightmare to find out that my dear husband just ran three loads of laundry the night before leaving me a Vesuvius of laundry to fold on the couch, but blessedly, also a large selection of undies. I knew I had chosen the right man when we had some of our first and most romantic non-dates at the laundromat.
My confession in fact is quite serious. Here it is. Are you ready?
I struggle with reading scripture regularly.
There. I said it. Are you still breathing? I hope I didn’t make you choke on anything. Can you believe you just heard those words escape my lips? (er… uh, I mean, my keyboard.)
Well… I’d be polishing it a little too much to say that I struggle with it because… to be quite honest it seems that I have all but given up the practice for a handful of reasons with which, I’m quite sure, most busy mothers can probably relate. I’m very busy and when I’m not busy, I’m pooped and I can hardly comprehend putting both my heart AND mind to work on something so weighty and important as scripture reading and meditation.
I guess you could still classify it as a struggle though because I have struggled with guilt over this for a very long time. I have made new plans and made resolutions that ever so quickly go by the wayside as life once again takes over.
I am not going to make excuses for myself. I need to be meditating on God’s word. I need to be digesting it and letting it get painfully close to my existence so that it actually begins to affect what I do everyday, how I treat my kids, how I respond to my husband — in essence, how I live my life. How can I truly be walking in the light if I am not pressing in to the heart of the Father?
On the other hand, I will say that the Bible never says, “Thou shalt do your devotions daily.” What it does say is that we must, “meditate on it (scripture) day and night,” let it be our comforter, our encourager, our teacher, our rebuker, our guidebook, “a light unto our paths.” To be fair to all of us who struggle with guilt over not having “daily devotions,” even the disciples did not have their own personal copies of the scriptures, early Christians for several hundred years did not have their own copies of the scriptures. We are all immensely grateful for the advent of the printing press (Thank you Johann Gutenberg!!) and now biblegateway.com and to be able to hold in our hands or bring up on the screen at the touch of a button, the precious words of God is a gift that I don’t think many of us can really fathom unless we come from an unreached people group whose language the scripture has not yet been translated.
How would the early Christians meditate on scripture day and night if they didn’t have it at their fingertips? How would they teach it to their children as they walked along the way or as they ate or as they went to lie down if they did not have it at arm’s reach? They had their memories!
Scripture memory doesn’t seem to be quite as common of a discipline amongst Christians as it once was. It seems to be something that we find important for children but I guess we figure, once we have all of the basic verses that go with whatever tract we are most familiar with memorized then we don’t really need to memorize anymore. I’m quite sure that there are a good many people who still practice regular scripture memory but it just doesn’t seem like it’s encouraged the way it probably should be amongst adults.
Through years of struggle and guilt for failing to maintain a regular daily quiet time with God I think I have missed the point. I need to be meditating on God’s word day and night. Traditionally I have tried to tackle this in larger chunks, following tips and tricks, book studies, guides and all manner of Christian publications as my tools. All of it seemed very impersonal and contrived. I could not force myself to feel a sense of satisfaction or of closeness with God. Then again, daily Christian disciplines are not to be valued solely based on how they make us feel.
The times when I have really grown in grace and really known that I was walking by the spirit was when I was pressing into the heart of the Father, when I was meditating on and really digesting small portions of scripture over and over like a cow chewing the cud, knowing that my feeble mind and my wandering heart needs a great deal of regurgitation and rumination when it comes to extracting every bit of nutrition from the words of God.
So, as much as I generally try to avoid making resolutions because I so quickly fail at them and as much as I realize a “new system” will not keep a desk clean or a heart aligned with scripture, I have decided that I have tortured myself with enough guilt over not being able to manage a daily devotional. Instead I am going to begin committing to memory, ruminating on, slowly digesting and hopefully applying small portions of scripture each week. I’m convinced that this will be far more beneficial to me than #1 beating myself up for being such a bad Christian and #2 than reading larger portions of scripture without the time to prepare my heart in advance for what I am about to receive or the time afterwards to let it seep in before I am assaulted with the noises of four rowdy boys or a sinkful of dirty dishes or a Mount Fuji of laundry or a million shards of paper cut up by my kid-scissors happy four year old.
I am not making excuses for myself. I don’t believe I have to make excuses. I do have to repent (and indeed, I have) of having given up altogether. At the same time, it hurts my brain and soul to think of searching endlessly for the next study or the next thing to motivate me or make me feel a deeper sense of closeness with God when He has already said, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” I just wan
t to know my Jesus better. I just want to know His heart and the heart of His Father better. I just want to meditate on his words day and night.
Pray for me as I press in. Whether you are able to commune quietly with God every day or you find it very hard to find the time and then make yourself use it in quiet meditation — may you find a way to press in to the Father’s heart and may He draw near to you and give you His peace and assurance that He will never let you go, no matter how much you fail.
Grace and peace.