Psalm 1:1-3

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 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.

8 thoughts on “A new plan

  1. Thank you Nan, for sharing. I understand what you are saying and share in your struggle. A wise mom once told me not to beat myself up over lack of regularly scheduled reading, but to meet with God while listening to a meaningful song or radio sermon. I have managed to find my own time for reading in this past year, but still struggle with finding alone time for prayer and meditation. Your new plan is great. I hope God uses it to draw you closer to Him!

  2. This is something I’ve been struggling with as well. The quiet times around my house are so few and far between that there are so many other things that I need to do–like feed little people, clothe little people, bathe little people, etc… that sometimes what seems the least pressing (spending time with the scriptures) is what I need the most. Thanks for the reminder. I just happen to have a quiet moment right now.

  3. Your post accurately portrays what I struggle with constantly. Thank you for the reminder that it is the word we need to focus on and not merely “devotions”. I want to make scripture a focus in my life and model this for my children too.Thanks for your honesty. It’s a good reminder for all of us who struggle with the same issue.Rose

  4. Hey Nan, I’m delurking….I’ve been struggling with scripture reading for many years so I understand your guilt. Just to let you know, I’m also reformed, live in AL and have a daughter. :)Anywho, I just wanted to let you know what has helped me “deal” with the guilt. I’ve learned to not worry about tomorrow (for tomorrow will worry about itself) and focus on today (our daily bread). God has given us the grace for today to find time with him. Whether that be reading scripture, praying or meditating on his word. God knows that we are busy mommmies! He’ll provide the means to “press into Him”. Finally, the most remarkable part of the Gospel is that even if we never read another word of Scripture we’d still be righteous before God. For surely, the man who was hung next to Christ on that bloody day is with him in paradise. I pray this encourages you as it did me.

  5. Nan,Don’t forgot that there are ways other than dedicated scripture study that you have been praising the Lord. All your many acts of kindness and care that you and all of us mothers show are family, friends and strangers are ways that we are able to please Him. Even washing the dishes can be pleasing to Him if it is done with a willing heart. I find it easier to meditate on a small verse or scripture through out the day because like you finding a “bulk” of quiet time in one sitting can prove to be a challenge.

  6. I get the part of expectations of a pastor’s wife… People think a Youth Pastor must be a God and Scriptures expert – and I am neither. My humanity, motherhood, wifehood, and housekeeping, etc. prevent it. My heart always desires more than my self allows me to do. But I love that your heart desires it and I will pray with and for you that you learn to recognize those little bits of time to commit to the Word.

  7. Hey friend – Richard Foster’s books have been so helpful to me as I have been actively struggling in this as well. And I think you know me well enough to know I am not suggesting anything as an “if you read this, then you will be super spiritual woman”. But they are good – and even soothing. :)Struggling along side ya.

  8. Thank you for your discernment on this subject. It is so true. We don’t have to sit down and have a 2 hour devotional to get in touch with God. Small portions are much more inviting.

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